COLUMBUS, NEB. Lucas Cruikshank and his two cousins unabashedly display their playful antics for the world to see via the Internet.
The trio has gained a World Wide Web audience by performing self-choreographed routines, wearing women's costumes and employing other instruments of adolescent humor. Lucas, 13, and his twin cousins, Katie and Jon Smet, 14, from Rochester, Minn., have earned a consistent following of thousands across the country and the globe.
The trio named themselves JKL Productions, representing the first letter of each member's first name. They get together approximately four times a year to produce material, and the scheduling of family vacations is sometimes influenced by a production idea.
As of Wednesday, the JKL Productions site on YouTube.com has received nearly 500,000 views with more than 7,494 subscribers, and that number grows daily.
But perhaps no one has been as supportive as Lucas' mom, Molly Cruikshank.
"I am addicted to their stuff," she said. She visits the site multiple times daily to see how the public is responding.
Although the group began posting homemade videos only a little more than a year ago, they have been performing for their families since they were young.
Jon said the play-acting originally started because they were bored and decided to entertain themselves. It grew from there.
"We began to make skits for our families," he said.
And it caught the attention of an Australian radio station, which conducted an interview via Web cam as part of a radio program.
It was Cruikshank's mother who encouraged their creativity and wanted them to take it a step further, purchasing Lucas his first video camera in June 2006.
Although the material is meant to be entertaining and funny, the group has received some negative feedback for their innocent, juvenile subject material, such as "The Crippled Boy" and "Emo Kid."
"We are not trying to make fun of anyone," Jon said, rather they are just exaggerated caricatures and events that would not occur in reality.
The material, aside from the choreography, is all off-the-cuff, Lucas said. "We think up a plot and then improvise," such as in the case of his character "Fred."
"Fred is a bored kid who has anger-management problems, and his mom doesn't know he is making videos," Lucas said.
The three producers/actors have submitted their material to national competitions, such as the comedy contest on Project Breakout, where they placed fifth out of more than 100 participants.
All three have said their involvement in the projects has inspired them to pursue careers in film.
Katie said she wants to go onto film school and have a future in movies.
"I want to be a director and work with movies when I get older," she said.
Jon said although he doesn't mind editing or producing, he would prefer to be in front of the lens as a comedian or actor.
Lucas also would like to be an actor, and he has already started to build up his resume. He has performed in "High School Musical" on the stage of the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln and in "Aladdin" at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. He also will be in the upcoming performance of "Grease" at the Lincoln Playhouse.