Funny or Die
|Founded||California (April 2007)|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Key people||Adam McKay
Funny or Die is an Emmy-winning comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions, with original and user-generated content. Funny or Die contains exclusive material from a number of famous contributors (e.g. Judd Apatow, James Franco) and also has its own Funny or Die Team, which creates original material for the site.
Many clips on the site feature well-known actors (examples include Steve Carell, Charlie Sheen, Ryan Gosling, Patrick Stewart, Daniel Radcliffe, Sophia Bush, Mila Kunis, Hilary Duff, Adam West, Jim Carrey, and Selena Gomez). Michael Kvamme, an aspiring young comedian, came up with a concept for a new kind of comedy site and the site was developed by Randy Adams. Videos are voted on by users of the site; those that are deemed funny stay, but those that are not "die" and are relegated to the site's "crypt".
Funny or Die launched in January 24th, 2007. The site's first video, "The Landlord", has received over 70 million views and features Ferrell confronted by a swearing, beer-drinking two-year-old landlord.. In June 2007, they received venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital, and in June 2008, they announced a partnership with HBO.
Unlike other viral video sites, members of Funny or Die are encouraged to vote on videos which they view, with the options of "Funny" or "Die". The video then gets a score of the total percent of people who voted the video "Funny". If the video receives an 80% or greater "Funny" rating after 100,000 views, it gets an "Immortal" ranking. If the video receives a 20% or less "Funny" rating after 1,000 views, it is relegated to the Crypt section of the site.
The Funny or Die staff can also select a rating of "Chosen One", which hides the score from the public, merely saying "Chosen One" instead.
Aside from celebrity contributors such as Thomas Lennon, Demetri Martin and more, Funny or Die has a permanent stable of writers including Dan Abramson, Look what I found, Cory Matthews, Dashiell Driscoll, You're doing it right, Lauren and A General Nonchalance. Popular user contributors include Mikepattonfan (Sean Warhurst), Michael Kaddour, Joe Burton, Mpiddy, Michael Lake and more.
Funny or Die Comedy Tour
In February 2008, Funny or Die launched "Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die Comedy Tour Presented by ‘Semi-Pro’", in conjunction with the promotion of the movie Semi Pro. The tour featured Ferrell, members of the FOD Team and comedians Zach Galifianakis, Demetri Martin, Nick Swardson and Andrea Savage. Adam McKay and Will Arnett served as tour announcers. The eight-city tour hit college campuses in Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York.
Funny or Die Presents
In June 2008, HBO and Funny or Die announced that HBO had purchased a stake of less than 10% in Funny Or Die. With this, Funny or Die will be responsible for developing at least 10 half-hour episodes for HBO, and the companies may organize future comedy tours together. Regarding the agreement, Will Ferrell said, "I don't want to overstate the importance of this deal, but this is the missing link moment where TV and Internet finally merge. It will change the way we as human beings perceive and interact with reality. Okay, I overstated it. But it is an exciting deal."
In August 2008, FunnyorDie hired Andrew Steele, a twelve-year veteran of Saturday Night Live, and one of three head writers in recent years, to oversee content production and development for the site and for the HBO partnership.
Or Die Networks
Following the success of FunnyorDie, parent organization Or Die Networks has spun out five additional verticals, based on FunnyorDie’s binary voting system.
Funny or Die UK
Funny or Die UK, launched on September 23, 2008, was a UK specific version of Funny or Die. The patrons of the site were Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams, in place of Will Ferrell. The site worked in much the same way as the U.S. site, but featured a number of UK comedians, including Peter Serafinowicz, Kevin Eldon, Brendon Burns, Matt Berry and Dom Joly. Or Die Networks and UK partners Hatrick Productions chose to close the dedicated UK website due to financial struggles. The UK contents were consolidated in the main site and today the funnyordie.co.uk domain redirects to funnyordie.com.
Shredordie.com, launched October 23, 2007, is an action-sports website OrDie Networks created in partnership with Tony Hawk. Users rate videos of members performing (or failing to perform) stunts by clicking either "Shred" or "Die." Shredordie.com was prominently featured in Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom Huckjam Tour.
Pwnordie.com, launched July 1, 2008, is a site devoted to all things video game, where users can post and enjoy videos about walkthroughs, cheats, reviews, or parodies of popular games. Users vote content either "Pwn" or "Die."
Morraderir.com.br, launched July 28, 2008, and brings to Brazil the same home for comedy as FunnyorDie.com in the US. Users can view professional and user-generated content unique to Brazil and also from FunnyorDie.com, and upload their own videos as well. The site features celebrity content from Ivete Sangalo, Sabrina Sato, Diogo Portugal, Fernando Caruso, Luis Miranda and others.
Eatdrinkordie.com, launched August 20, 2008, is a culinary site where users vote videos on preparing and enjoying food as either "delicious" or "die." Tom Colicchio is one of EatDrinkorDie’s primary content partners, and the site has also featured content by Art Smith, Gary Vaynerchuk, Michael Chiarello, Jon Shook and Vinney Dotolo, and Sophie Uliano. EatDrinkOrDie.com no longer exists, and the website now links to FunnyOrDie.com.
Although ostensibly independent of organized politics, site creators Ferrell and McKay are supporters of the Democratic Party and have personal politics that "tend to lean a little left." In addition to their well known March 2014 foray in support of the Affordable Care Act, the previous year Funny or Die launched a campaign for the legal defense of Shezanne Cassim, a Minnesota resident who was jailed in Abu Dhabi for allegedly endangering national security by posting a parody video to YouTube. Comedians Patton Oswalt and Tony Hale were subsequently made part of Funny or Die's effort to raise funds and awareness to "Free Shez." Originally sentenced to a year in prison, in the face of growing public pressure Cassim was released in January 2014 after serving 9 months of his sentence.
Funny or Die has also been responsible for creation of parody videos lampooning California's 2008 anti-same sex marriage initiative, Proposition 8, and taking a pot shot at the National Rifle Association with a video featuring comedian Jim Carrey. The site also worked with television star Alyssa Milano to "leak" a purported sex tape of the actress which was in fact an awareness-raising video on the bloody Syrian Civil War.
On March 11, 2014, Zach Galifianakis interviewed Barack Obama on his show Between Two Ferns on the website. During the interview, they asked people to sign up for healthcare on the Healthcare.gov site as part of the Affordable Care Act. By the next day, 11 million viewers had watched the video, and more than 890,000 people viewed the website just during that morning.
On March 2, 2014, two promotional videos were released on a YouTube channel supposedly controlled by HUVr Tech, a company claiming to have invented a hoverboard much like those in the Back to the Future film trilogy. The videos included demonstrations of the board by celebrities such as Tony Hawk and Moby. The project was later revealed to be a hoax perpetrated by Funny or Die. Michael Kitterman, a freelance motion graphics editor from Antioch, California, provided much of the final video editing, and served as lead consultant during filming to Turner Entertainment Digital Network who produced the promotional videos.
- "The Landlord video page". Funny or Die. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- "Sequoia Capital funds Funny or Die".
- Littleton, Cynthia (2008-06-10). "HBO Joining Forces with FunnyorDie". Variety.
- Cusumano, Joel. "Pictures & Words". Funny or Die. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
- "HBO invests in Will Ferrell's Funnyordie.com".
- Littleton, Cynthia (2008-08-05). "Funny or Die made of Steele". Variety.
- "Or Die Networks". Dmwmedia.com. 2008-07-11. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- "Funny or Die". Funnyordie.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- Gibson, Owen (2008-09-23). "US comedy website Funny or Die gets Little Britain backing". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- Andrews, Robert (May 18, 2010). "Funny Or Die Shutting UK Site". Paidcontent.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
- "Tony Hawk’s Shredordie.com Launches". 901am.com. 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- "Or Die Networks Got Game" (Press release). Or Die Networks. July 1, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2013 – via Press Related.
- "Funnyordie sites expand into Cooking". New Zealand: 3News. August 21, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
- Asawin Suebsaeng, "National Lampoon: From Fake Sex Tapes to Obamacare Agitprop: Funny or Die's Viral Activism," Mother Jones, vol. 39, no. 3 (May–June 2014), pg. 62.
- Lee, Jolie (12 March 2014). "Healthcare.gov gets traffic boost after Obama's 'Funny or Die' video". USA Today. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- "HUVrTech YouTube channel".
- "Funny or Die Is Behind the Tony Hawk Hoverboard Hoax".