Last week, a video starring Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and McKay’s toddler daughter was one of the most popular on the Web.
In “The Landlord,” little Pearl plays Ferrell’s insistent landlord. Standing outside Ferrell’s door in a light blue dress, she demands her rent money so that she can “get my drink on.”
As millions flocked to see the video on FunnyOrDie.com or YouTube.com, it was clear that something had changed in online video: The pros had arrived. Like Ferrell and McKay, professional comedians are increasingly producing original material online.
The road was paved by Dane Cook, who was early to embrace MySpace and the Web in the general. Since then, the online world has changed considerably. Now, Stephen Colbert facilitates interplay between his Comedy Central show and Web site, and clips from NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” are commonplace on YouTube.
Comedians Chris Parnell and Tim Meadows (who both have series running on Bud.tv) have been recruited by Web sites, as well. Last week, Super Deluxe, a new comedy broadband network from Turner Broadcasting, announced that on May 16 it will start a 12-episode comedy series, “Derek & Simon: The Show,” created by Bob Odenkirk.
A former “Saturday Night Live” writer, Odenkirk has been the brains behind some brilliant comedy — namely the revered HBO sketch program “Mr. Show” he did with David Cross.
Tom Green, who used to have a show on MTV, now has one on TomGreen.com. He broadcasts live every weeknight from the living room of his Los Angeles home, and often welcomes celebrity guests. An interview with a drunken Steve-O of “Jackass” lasted four hours. Viewers are encouraged to call him at home; the number is posted on the Web site.
Ferrell and McKay have an actual stake in their online venture. Their company, Sanchez Productions, became partners with Sequoia Capital (a venture capital firm that was an early investor in Google, YouTube and others) to create the comedy video site FunnyOrDie.com.
The site is made up of user-generated videos, which are rated by viewers. Those ratings determine whether a video stays or is banished to the site’s “Crypt.”
One of Hollywood’s most powerful agencies, CAA, had a hand in creating FunnyOrDie.com, and more big name talent is expected to contribute material.