Funny or Die

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Funny or Die
Private
Industry Film, TV, internet
Genre Comedy
Founded April 12, 2007; 9 years ago (2007-04-12)[1]
California, U.S.
Founders Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Key people
Mike Farah (CEO)
Website www.funnyordie.com

Funny or Die is an Emmy-winning comedy video website and film/TV production company founded by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy. The website Funny Or Die contains exclusive material from a number of famous contributors (e.g., Judd Apatow, James Franco).

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, James Van Der Beek, 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 on April 12, 2007 with the site's first video, "The Landlord". "The Landlord" has received over 84 million views and features Ferrell confronted by a swearing, beer-drinking two-year-old landlord.[2] In June 2007, they received venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital,[3] and in June 2008, they announced a partnership with HBO.[4]On August 3, 2016, Funny or Die shut-down one of its California offices, reducing its headcount by 30% to 95 employees, with the announcement coming just two month after the new CEO, Mike Farah, took office[5]

Online presence[edit]

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 disables voting for a video, merely saying "Chosen One" instead.[6]

Television and movie productions[edit]

Funny Or Die expanded to include a television and film production company in 2011.

Shows[edit]

Between Two Ferns[edit]

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis is an Emmy Award-winning comedy series featured on Funny Or Die. Galifianakis interviews various celebrities on a low budget set, decorated by a pair of potted ferns. The series often involves interruptions for product promotions and musical guests. The Lonely Island’s "Spring Break Anthem" music video was embedded into an episode with James Franco and featured actor Edward Norton.[7]

Galifianakis has interviewed the likes of Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lawrence, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Branson, and President Barack Obama. Galifianakis interviewed President Barack Obama during the launch of the United States health insurance exchange website www.Healthcare.gov. The video was released on March 11, 2014 and garnered over 32 million views.[8]

Billy on the Street[edit]

Funny Or Die’s Billy on the Street is a half hour comedy game show hosted by Billy Eichner. The show’s producers include Anna Wenger, Mike Farah and Billy Eichner. Billy on the Street premiered on Fuse TV on December 18, 2011. On October 8, 2015 the show began airing on tru TV. Eichner quizzes people on the streets of New York on pop culture in exchange for cash and prizes. Many episodes feature a special guest and celebrities Lindsay Lohan, Anne Hathaway, Neil Patrick Harris, and Olivia Wilde have made appearances on the show.[9]

In 2013, Eichner received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Game Show Host.[10] The series wrapped its third season on May 14, 2014.

Drunk History[edit]

Drunk History is a comedy series on Comedy Central that was released on Funny Or Die in December 2007. The show originated as a web series created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner. The show features a drunken narrator who attempts to recount an event from American history. The actors are played by celebrity guest stars who lip-sync the narrator’s dialogue.[11]

Due to their general drunkenness the narrators are unable to accurately discuss the historical events and oftentimes make up and embellish aspects of the story. Guests include Jack Black, Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Nick Offerman, Winona Ryder, Chris Parnell, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman.

@midnight[edit]

@midnight is a late night comedy panel show hosted by Chris Hardwick and produced by Funny Or Die. The show debuted on Comedy Central on October 21, 2013. The show features three guest comedians that respond to different social media postings and pop culture references of the day including responses to actual tweets on Twitter, Craigslist ad postings and comments on Reddit.[12]

@Midnight used social media as a platform to engage with their fans. The show created hashtags including #HashtagWars and #SpookyCelebs that were used by fans to submit their own responses to the game on Twitter.[13]

The Spoils of Babylon[edit]

The Spoils of Babylon is a comedy miniseries that aired on January 9, 2014 on IFC. The show was created and written by former Saturday Night Live writers Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele. Piedmont also directed the series. The series stars Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Tobey Maguire, Jessica Alba, Haley Joel Osment, Tim Robbins, Michael Sheen, Carey Mulligan and Val Kilmer.[14]

Ferrell plays Eric Jonrosh, a fictional author whose novel is being adapted for TV. The Spoils of Babylon novel follows a wealthy oil tycoon’s family, the Morehouses. Robbins plays Jonas Morehouse, the patriarch of the family. Wiig and Maguire play Cynthia and her adopted brother Devon.[15]

IFC and Funny Or Die adapted Jonrosh’s first novel, The Spoils Before Dying into another miniseries, which aired on July 8, 2015.[16]

Throwing Shade[edit]

Throwing Shade is a podcast hosted by Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi, that addresses topics such as mainstream pop culture, women’s rights and gay rights. In 2011 Gibson and Safi created the Throwing Shade podcast after InfoMania was cancelled and in 2013 Funny Or Die began filming the podcast on a set, and airing the recordings of the podcast on its website.[17]

The podcast occasionally has famous guests including Cheyenne Jackson and Dustin Lance Black.Throwing Shade won a Podcast Award for Best GLBT Podcast in both 2012 and 2013.[18]

The duo have recorded 80 videos since signing on with Funny Or Die.[19]

Pilots[edit]

  • What's Going On? with Mike Mitchell (2011, FX)
  • The Gorburger Show (2015, HBO)

Specials[edit]

Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles[edit]

On November 23, 2013, HBO presented a special in association with Funny Or Die titled, “Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles” featuring stand-up by comedian Sarah Silverman.[20] During her hour-long set, Silverman made jokes about rape, religion, and her personal insecurities.[21]

The special received a 2014 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Variety Special and Silverman’s writing earned her an Emmy win for Outstanding Writing For a Variety Special.[22] Record label Sub Pop, went on to release the special on vinyl, CD, and through digital download.

Jerrod Carmichael: Love At The Store[edit]

Funny Or Die produced a special featuring comedian Jerrod Carmichael for HBO which aired on October 4, 2014.[23] During the 70 minute special, Carmichael covers topics including poverty and wealth, controversial artists, female empowerment, and crime and race.

“Jerrod Carmichael: Love At The Store,” was directed by Spike Lee and was filmed at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Carmichael chose the location because it was the first venue he performed in back in 2008.[24]

Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted[edit]

Funny Or Die produced a comedy special for HBO featuring comedian Tig Notaro. Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted premiered on HBO on August 22, 2015. Notaro promoted the special by walking the streets of Los Angeles to bring awareness to a giant billboard of her face.[25]

During the HBO special Notaro talks about her breast cancer diagnosis, her break up with her girlfriend and the death of her mother. Notaro performs the final third of her set topless to expose the scars of her mastectomy to the audience.[26]

  • Between Two Ferns: A Fairytale of New York (2012, Comedy Central)
  • Ferrell Takes the Field (2015, HBO)

Movies[edit]

Funny or Die Presents[edit]

Main article: 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."[27]

In August 2008, Funny Or Die 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.[28]

Live events[edit]

Funny Or Die Comedy Tour[edit]

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. The tour ran February 4–24, 2008.[29]

Funny Or Die Oddball Comedy Festival[edit]

2013[edit]

In June 2013 Funny Or Die announced the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival comedy tour partnered with Live Nation[30] The tour was headlined by Dave Chappelle and Flight of the Conchords. The lineup also included Al Madrigal, Kristen Schaal, Brody Stevens, Demetri Martin, John Mulaney, Jim Jefferies, and Hannibal Buress. The tour ran August 23 – September 22, 2013.

2014[edit]

In 2014, Funny Or Die continued the Oddball Festival, touring 20 cities across the U.S. from August 8 – September 21. The tour featured comedians Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, Chris Hardwick, Amy Schumer, and Jim Gaffigan.[31]

2015[edit]

The 2015 lineup included Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, Anthony Jeselnik, Ashley Barnhill, Bridget Everett, Dave Attell, Donnell Rawlings, Jak Knight, Jay Pharaoh, Jeff Ross, Jim Norton, John Mulaney, Katherine Ryan, Mark Normand, Michael Che, Nick Kroll, Nick Thune, Nikki Glaser, Rachel Feinstein, Rory Scovel, Sebastian Maniscalco, Steve Rannazzisi, TJ Miller, Tim Minchin, Todd Barry, and Tony Hinchcliffe. The tour ran August 28 – October 18, 2015.[32]

Treasure Island Music Festival: Blah Blah Blah Comedy Tent[edit]

Funny Or Die curated a comedy lineup for the 2015 Treasue Island music festival in San Francisco, CA. The Funny Or Die Blah Blah Blah tent featured comedy acts from Tim Heidecker, Jerrod Carmichael, Jonah Ray, Chris Gethard, Jon Dore, Lauren Lapkus, Brian Safi & Erin Gibson, Kate Berlant & John Early, Guy Branum, Michelle Wolf, Max Silvestri, Barry Rothbart, and Jermaine Fowler.[33]

Political activism[edit]

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."[34] 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.[34] Comedians Patton Oswalt and Tony Hale were subsequently made part of Funny Or Die's effort to raise funds and awareness to "Free Shez."[34] 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.[34]

Funny Or Die has also been responsible for creation of parody videos lampooning California's 2008 traditional marriage initiative, Proposition 8, and taking a pot shot at the National Rifle Association with a video featuring comedian Jim Carrey.[34] 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.[34]

Obama Interview[edit]

On March 11, 2014, Zach Galifianakis interviewed Barack Obama on his show Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis 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 during just that morning.[35]

Michelle Obama's Eat Brighter Campaign[edit]

On February 16, 2015, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, teamed up with Billy Eichner and Big Bird to promote her health initiative called 'Eat Brighter!' In the episode the trio join together at a grocery store in Washington D.C. to play a game titled "Ariana Grande or Eating a Carrot?"[36]

Michelle Obama made an appearance in a Funny Or Die movie trailer for "Snakpocalypse" which was featured on September 2, 2014. The trailer described the events that led to the elimination of a teenage population due to poor food choices offered at their high school. Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign supports healthy eating in youth and adults and she appears in the video crunching on a carrot.[37]

Kristen Bell & Christina Hendricks For Women's Wage Equality[edit]

Mary Poppins Quits with Kristen Bell was featured on Funny Or Die on July 23, 2014. In the video Mary Poppins played by Kristen Bell sings about increasing minimum wage in order to meet living wage standards.[38]

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks was published on August 6, 2014. Christina Hendricks who plays fictional character Joan Harris on AMC's Mad Men gets a new job in a modern office. Hendricks transports her character from the 1960s into a modern office environment.The video insinuates that modern office environments maintain antiquated policies regarding women’s roles in the workplace.[39]

Prop 8 The Musical[edit]

"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.[40]

Jim Carrey NRA Song for Brady Campaign: Cold Hand Dead[edit]

In March 2013, Funny Or Die created the video, “Cold Dead Hand” starring Jim Carrey as both a country singer and former NRA president, Charles Heston.[41]

In the video, Carrey is joined by singers portraying Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and John Lennon, all of whom were assassinated by gunmen, as they perform on “Hee Haw”, the 1970s CBS variety show.[42]

Hoaxes and controversies[edit]

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.[43] The videos included demonstrations of the board by celebrities such as Tony Hawk and Moby. Two days later the project was revealed to be a hoax perpetrated by Funny Or Die, after the video's costume designer posted the experience on her online resume.[44]

Contributors[edit]

Aside from occasional celebrity contributors, Funny Or Die has a regular staff of in-house writers, producers, and directors. Past staff writers include Jack Allison (Jimmy Kimmel Live!), Dave Ferguson (The Birthday Boys), Jake Fogelnest (Wet Hot American Summer), Scott Gairdner (Conan), Chris Kelly (Saturday Night Live), Dan Klein (Comedy Bang! Bang!), Seth Morris (Kroll Show), Ryan Perez (Saturday Night Live), and Nick Wiger (Comedy Bang! Bang!).

Awards[edit]

Webby Awards[edit]

Year Association Category Recipient
2011 Webby Special Achievement: Film & Video Person of the Year Funny Or Die
2011 Webby Web: Humor Funny Or Die
2011 Webby Best Web Personality / Host Between Two Ferns w Zach Galifianakis
2011 Webby Individual Short Or Episode Between Two Ferns w Zach Galifianakis: Steve Carell
2011 Webby Online Film & Video: Variety Between Two Ferns
2011 Webby Online Film & Video: Variety (People's Voice) Between Two Ferns
2011 Webby Best Individual Performance (People's Voice) Jim Carey in Funny Or Die's Presidential Reunion
2011 Webby Comedy: Individual Short or Episode (People's Voice) Justin Bieber Takes Over Funny Or Die
2011 Webby Comedy: Long Form Or Series (People Voice) Funny Or Die's Presidential Reunion
2012 Webby Online Film & Video: Best Individual Performance President Bush Reacts to Osama Bin Laden's Death with Will Ferrell
2012 Webby Online Film & Video: Comedy: Long Form Or Series Drunk History Christmas
2013 Webby Online Film & Video: Best Individual Performance Charlize Theron Gets Hacked
2013 Webby Online Film & Video: Comedy: Individual Short or Episode Wire: The Musical
2014 Webby Online Film & Video: Comedy: Best Longform Or Series Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Justin Bieber
2014 Webby Online Film & Video: Comedy: Best Longform Or Series (People's Voice) Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Justin Bieber
2014 Webby Web: Humor Funny Or Die
2015 Webby Web: Humor Funny Or Die

Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

Year Association Category Recipient
2014 Primetime Emmy Outstanding short format Live-Action Entertainment Program Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama
2015 Primetime Emmy Outstanding short format Live-Action Entertainment Program Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Brad Pitt

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "FunnyOrDie.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info – DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  2. ^ "The Landlord video page". Funny Or Die. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  3. ^ "Sequoia Capital funds Funny Or Die". 
  4. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (2008-06-10). "HBO Joining Forces with FunnyorDie". Variety. 
  5. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/funny-die-lays-dozens-staffers-916568
  6. ^ "Chosen Ones". Funny or Die. Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "Lonely Island 'Spring Break Anthem': A Truce Innovation for Trolls". mic.com. 9 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Aukerman, Scott (Director) (2014). Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama (video file). United States of America: Funny Or Die. 
  9. ^ Caramanica, Jon. "A Game Show of Sorts, the Really Loud and Potentially Uncomfortable Sort". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  10. ^ Sundstrom, Mark. "Fuse's Billy Eichner Nabs Emmy Nom!". New Yorker. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  11. ^ Martin, Jenna. "A Keg Of "Drunk History"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  12. ^ Simon, Perry. "CHRIS HARDWICK'S @MIDNIGHT, 10/21, COMEDY CENTRAL: THE DETAILS". The Nerdist. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  13. ^ Simon, Perry. "@MIDNIGHT LAST NIGHT: EUGENE MIRMAN, KRISTEN SCHAAL, DOUG BENSON". The Nerdist. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  14. ^ "IFC Miniseries Spoof 'The Spoils of Babylon' Adds Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins, Michael Sheen and a Teaser Trailer". 
  15. ^ Valby, Karen (10 October 2013). "Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire play sibling lovers in new IFC comedy 'The Spoils of Babylon'". Entertainment Weekly. Wiig plays Jonas’ daughter Cynthia who burns with taboo passion for her adopted brother Devon 
  16. ^ Perkins, Dennis (8 July 2015). "The Spoils Before Dying improves on its predecessor almost too much". Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  17. ^ Matheson, Whitney (25 July 2013). "'Throwing Shade' podcast becomes a video series". USA Today. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  18. ^ "Podcast Award Winners 2005-2014". Podcast Awards. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  19. ^ "Throwing Shade". Funny Or Die. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  20. ^ "Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles: Synopsis". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Fanelli, Laurie (23 July 2014). "Sarah Silverman announces the release of her new album 'We Are Miracles'". AXS. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  23. ^ "About The Show". Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  24. ^ Gallo, Phil (20 May 2014). "Go Inside Jerrod Carmichael's Spike Lee-Directed Comedy Special (Video)". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  25. ^ Panisch, Alex. "Tig Notaro Really Wants You To Look At Her Billboard". OUT. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  26. ^ Berkowitz, Joe. "WHY TIG NOTARO'S HBO SPECIAL IS UNLIKE ANY COMEDY SPECIAL YOU'VE EVER SEEN". fastcocreate.com. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  27. ^ "HBO invests in Will Ferrell's Funnyordie.com". 
  28. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (2008-08-05). "Funny Or Die made of Steele". Variety. 
  29. ^ "Will Ferrell's Funny Or Die Comedy Tour Presented By Semi-Pro Sells Out All Dates". PRNEWSWIRE. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  30. ^ Spangler, Todd (17 June 2013). "Dave Chappelle, Conchords Hit Road with Funny or Die 'Oddball' Tour". Variety. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  31. ^ "The World's Biggest Comedy Tour Returns: Funny Or Die Presents The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival 2014". Live Nation Entertainment. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  32. ^ Spangler, Todd. "Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer Return For Funny Or Die 2015 Summer Comedy Tour". Variety.com. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  33. ^ "SF's Treasure Island Music Festival to Have Comedy Tent Presented by Funny or Die". The Comedy Bureau. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  34. ^ a b c d e f 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), p. 62.
  35. ^ Lee, Jolie (12 March 2014). "Healthcare.gov gets traffic boost after Obama's 'Funny Or Die' video". USA Today. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Billy On The Street with First Lady Michelle Obama, Big Bird, And Elena!!!". Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  37. ^ "SNACKPOCALYPSE with Chloe Grace Moretz, Tyler Posey, and First Lady Michelle Obama". Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  38. ^ "Mary Poppins, fed up with earning federal minimum wage, is quitting". Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  39. ^ "Christine Hendricks slams workplace sexism in "Mad Men" parody". Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  40. ^ Suebsaeng, Asawain. "How Will Ferrell, Patton Oswalt, and Others Are Trying to Free an American Jailed in UAE". Mother Jones. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  41. ^ Vultaggio, Maria (25 March 2013). "Jim Carrey Mocks Charlton Heston, NRA for 'Funny Or Die' [VIDEO]". International Business Times. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  42. ^ Lombardi, Ken (26 March 2013). "Jim Carrey spoofs anti-gun control advocates in "Funny Or Die" sketch". CBS News. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  43. ^ "HUVrTech YouTube channel". 
  44. ^ "Funny Or Die Is Behind the Tony Hawk Hoverboard Hoax". 

External links[edit]