Funny or Die
|Industry||Film, TV, internet|
|Founded||California (April 2007)|
|Founders||Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy|
|Headquarters||San Mateo, California, U.S.|
Funny or Die is an Emmy-winning comedy video website and film/TV production company founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. The website 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, 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 January 24, 2007. The site's first video, "The Landlord", has received over 80 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 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!).
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.
Television and movie production company
Funny Or Die expanded to include a television and film production company in 2011.
- Jon Benjamin Has a Van (2011, Comedy Central)
- Billy on the Street (2011-Present, Fuse/truTV)
- Brody Stevens: Enjoy It! (2013, Comedy Central)
- @midnight (2013-Present, Comedy Central)
- What's Going On? with Mike Mitchell (2011, FX)
- The Gorburger Show (2015, HBO)
- Between Two Ferns: A Fairytale of New York (2012, Comedy Central)
- Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles (2013, HBO)
- Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store (2014, HBO)
- Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012, co-production with Abso Lutely Productions)
- iSteve (2013, released online via Funny Or Die)
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.
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. 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.
- "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.
- "HBO invests in Will Ferrell's Funnyordie.com".
- Littleton, Cynthia (2008-08-05). "Funny or Die made of Steele". Variety.
- 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".