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Ze Frank

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Ze Frank
Frank at the 2010 Streamy Awards
Hosea Jan Frank

(1972-03-31) March 31, 1972 (age 52)
EducationBrown University
Known forComedy[1]
Notable workthe show, a show, True Facts
SpouseJody Brandt (2003–present)
ParentJoachim Frank

Hosea Jan "Ze" Frank (/ˈz/; born March 31, 1972) is an American online performance artist, composer, humorist and public speaker based in Los Angeles.[2]

Personal life


Frank was born to German-American parents (his father is Chemistry Nobel Laureate Joachim Frank) and raised in a suburb of Albany, New York. He has a sister, who is a painter, as was indicated in his series the show with zefrank.[3]

Frank was educated at a Montessori school, known for its constructivist teaching methods, and graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience from Brown University in 1995.[2] At the university, he played guitar and sang lead vocals for a funk/jam band called Dowdy Smack, along with Blues Traveler bassist Tad Kinchla, until its dissolution in 1998. In 2003 he married his longtime girlfriend Jody Brandt,[4] whom he met at Brown University. Brandt is a licensed psychologist. At the end of 2008, Frank and his wife moved from Brooklyn Heights, in New York City, to Westwood, in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

Frank was listed as second author on a paper published in The Journal of Neuroscience,[5] which was featured briefly in episode 21 of a show on May 25, 2012, called My Pupils, explaining that his study of neuroscience of vision was motivated by his harmless anisocoria condition.[6]


Frank at VidCon 2010

In 2001, Frank created an online birthday invitation and sent it to seventeen of his closest friends. Forwarded wildly, the invitation soon generated millions of hits and over 100 gigabytes of daily web traffic to Frank's personal website.[7] The site grew to include interactive group projects, short films, animations, and video games, many Flash-based, including children's educational videos featuring handy tips such as "Don't vacuum your face."

Frank won a 2002 Webby Award for Personal Website (People's Voice) and in 2005, he was featured in Time's "50 Coolest Websites."[8] Frank debuted onstage at Mark Hurst's first annual Gel conference in 2003. In 2006, his YouTube channel "zefrank1" was created, which hosts the popular True Facts series. He has spoken for many years at TED Conferences, with presentations in 2004, 2005,[9] 2008, 2010,[10] and 2014.[11]

Frank has served as an adjunct professor at ITP/NYU, Parsons School of Design, and SUNY Purchase.

Discussing his work in the digital medium, and the potential of new platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, Frank said, "For me, experimentation is not about the technology. In an ever-changing technological landscape, where today's platforms are not tomorrow's platforms, the key seems to be that any one of these spaces can use a dose of humanity and art and culture."[12]

Frank was formerly the president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures,[13] and from January 2018 he served as the chief research and development officer for BuzzFeed.[14] As of April 2019 Frank has moved on from BuzzFeed to pursue other endeavors.[15]

the show

the show with zefrank
Hosted byZe Frank
Genrecomedy, current events.
Picture format.flv, .mov, .mp4
Original releaseMarch 17, 2006 –
March 17, 2007

On March 17, 2006, Frank launched the daily video program the show with zefrank. The format of the program combined commentary on media and current events with viewer contributions and activities. Each tightly edited three-to-five-minute episode combined Daily Show-style commentary on world events with songs, observations, and occasional games or challenges for his viewers to participate in. Thousands of photos, videos, and music files were contributed by the audience, including over 1,000 photos in one 20-hour period.[16] The show appeared each weekday until its final episode on March 17, 2007, exactly one year after its start. Following the success of the show, Frank signed with the United Talent Agency of Beverly Hills, California for representation. The Show's style has influenced many popular video bloggers today, such as the Vlogbrothers.[17]

In October 2013, Frank posted the entire library of the show episodes on YouTube, having removed them several weeks earlier from previous host blip.tv. The entire catalog was also available for purchase from his web-store at zefrank.com.

a show

a show with zefrank
Hosted byZe Frank
Genrecomedy, current events
Original releaseApril 9, 2012 –
November 14, 2013

On February 27, 2012, Ze Frank announced that he was going to do a thrice-weekly show, that will be "same same but different" from The Show. Similar to his other projects, Frank's new venture would be a collaboration between him and his audience.[18] The new show, titled "a show" was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised $146,752 in eleven days.[18] It debuted on April 9, 2012, with an episode titled "An Invocation for Beginnings". Animated dreams (short animations built around audio submitted by viewers of 'a show') were a regular weekly feature.[19] Eight months later, with the release of the "Body Karaoke" episode on November 30, 2012, "a show" and its related collaborative efforts, including "projects" and "missions" went on unannounced hiatus. No official announcement has been made regarding the status of "a show" or whether series production would resume.

On January 12 and 13, 2013, Frank hosted a public participatory showcase event at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, California, entitled "Ze Frank Weekend", featuring hands-on workshops and activities, exhibits related to "a show", and the results of collaborative "projects" and "missions" developed between April and November of the previous year.

The show continued to run on the YouTube channel "zefrankenfriends" until November 2013.

True Facts


In December 2012 Ze Frank released a video titled "True Facts About Baby Echidnas"[20] that featured footage of echidnas and a voiceover by Frank including facts and reactions to the video footage, which has been viewed over 10 million times. Frank later released other videos in the series focusing on animals including "True Facts About the Octopus"[21] which has been viewed over 13 million times, and one video which instead focused on actor Morgan Freeman titled "True Facts About Morgan Freeman"[22] which was viewed over 12 million times. After a hiatus spanning over 3 years, Ze Frank continued the "True Facts" series with an episode titled "True Facts about the Frogfish" on April 24, 2018, and has maintained regular uploads in the series since.

Other media appearances

Frank at VidCon 2012
  • In February 2004 Frank appeared on the TED Conference with a talk titled "What's so funny about the Web?"
  • On May 18, 2007, Frank spoke at the Ruby on Rails conference in Portland, Oregon.[23]
  • Frank was a substitute host on the July 23, 2007, edition of the PRI public radio show Fair Game with Faith Salie.[24]
  • Frank spoke at Rochester Institute of Technology as part of the monthly Caroline Werner Gannett Lecture Series on October 3, 2007.[25]
  • In March 2008, Frank MCed the Graphex Gala Awards Ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[26]
  • Frank was a featured guest on The Sound of Young America on July 17, 2008.[27]
  • On April 11, 2011, Frank hosted an online streaming benefit concert with Imogen Heap to raise funds and inform viewers regarding the plight of the Japanese people following the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Frank conducted interviews with experts such as James Kondo, adviser to the Japanese Prime Minister, and architect Mark Dytham, as well as an assortment of musicians including Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds, Jamie Cullum, Imogen Heap, and KT Tunstall. The event was called Live 4 Sendai (part of the Live 4 X series) and it raised funds for UNICEF, The Red Cross, and Oxfam to further their restorative efforts in the region.
  • In 2012, Frank once again attended VidCon, performing briefly onstage.
  • Frank voices the popular Dear Kitten Friskies videos.[28]


  1. ^ Ze Frank's 2004 talk about nerdcore comedy at TED
  2. ^ a b St. John, Warren (June 18, 2006). "And You're So Funny? Write My Script". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2006.
  3. ^ Frank, Ze. "Unity". The Show With Ze Frank. Ze Frank. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved September 7, 2006.
  4. ^ Obituary of Hugh J.W. Brandt, Jody Brandt's father, indicating that the two are a couple. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  5. ^ Rozas C, Frank H, Heynen AJ, Morales B, Bear MF, Kirkwood A (2001). "Developmental inhibitory gate controls the relay of activity to the superficial layers of the visual cortex". J Neurosci. 21 (17): 6791–6801. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.21-17-06791.2001. PMC 6763109. PMID 11517267.
  6. ^ My Pupils Archived May 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, episode 21 of a show
  7. ^ Kukec, Anna Marie (April 23, 2001). "Web designer's email invite forwarded millions of times". Daily Herald.
  8. ^ Murray Buechner, Marryanne (June 20, 2005). "50 Coolest Websites 2005". Time. Archived from the original on June 22, 2005. Retrieved December 20, 2006.
  9. ^ Ze Frank's speech Archived February 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at the TED Conference (2004) Monterey, California (video)
  10. ^ "Ze Frank: My web playroom | TED Talk". Ted.com. October 15, 2010. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Frank, Ze (July 18, 2014). "Are you human?" – via www.ted.com.
  12. ^ Kirsner, Scott (2009). Fans, Friends & Followers: Building an Audience and a Creative Career in the Digital Age. Boston, MA: CinemaTech Books. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-4421-0074-9.
  13. ^ McCoy, Kirk. "Ze Frank, President of Buzzfeed Motion Pictures". LA Times. Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  14. ^ Jarvey, Natalie (January 24, 2018). "BuzzFeed Shake-Up: Entertainment Chief Ze Frank Gets New Role in Reorganization". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  15. ^ Jarvey, Natalie (March 29, 2019). "BuzzFeed Video Architect Ze Frank to Exit (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  16. ^ "First Ze Take Hollywood" by Spencer Morgan, New York Observer, January 21, 2007
  17. ^ John Green: On cuties and cooties, Green states, "Ze Frank inspired us to start videoblogging"
  18. ^ a b "A Show with Ze Frank". Kickstarter.
  19. ^ "An Invocation for Beginnings". YouTube. April 9, 2012. Archived from the original on December 14, 2021.
  20. ^ Ze Frank's True Facts About Baby Echidnas (VIDEO) on HuffPost
  21. ^ Web to Watch: 'True Facts' about the octopus by Ze Frank on USA Today
  22. ^ Ze Frank's Morgan Freeman Facts Will Astound You With His Magnificence (VIDEO) on HuffPost
  23. ^ Ze Frank Keynote at Ruby Central and O'Reilly Media's RailsConf (2007) Portland, Oregon
  24. ^ "Fair Game: Hasan Elahi, Rachelle Garniez, Harvey Pekar". Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2007.
  25. ^ The Caroline Werner Gannett Lecture Series – Ze Frank Archived November 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at Rochester Institute of Technology.
  26. ^ Graphex 2008 Winners List
  27. ^ Thorn, Jesse (July 14, 2008). "Ze Frank on The Sound of Young America" – via Vimeo.
  28. ^ Friskies 'Dear Kitten' commercial goes viral Archived February 19, 2015, at the Wayback Machine CBS 46, July 7, 2014