Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two and a Half Mensch: How HuffPo and CollegeHumor Missed a Fat Comedy Target

Today's piece focuses on an inadvisable tactic. Huffington Post, which cannot generate humor on its own, farmed out the funny to another website. This is a bad idea. When you don't know what funny is, contracting for it is a disaster. It evokes an image of a newly rich and hapless software engineer calling a contractor with only a P.O. Box for an address and saying, "I want new floors in my house and I only have $50,000. Is that enough for floor? It is! By George R.R. Martin's beard, what luck!"

Still, they ran a takedown of the most popular sitcom in America, Two and a Half Men, with a groan track of the show produced by CollegeHumor.com. The only problem was, the track wasn't funny. You couldn't expect HuffPo to know that, but CollegeHumor screwed the pooch. You can't take aim at a beast this big and stupid and then miss. It only draws attention to yourself. Now the beast has something to run at and may also be aroused. CollegeHumor missed.

I explain how, in detail, in a new piece on SomethingAwful.com. Please read it there.*
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* — Since there wasn't an appropriate place to put this either at SA or on this site, allow me here to offer my huge thanks to the guys at Ground Up Films. I met them through a friend and kicked around the idea of writing some short video scripts for them, but we never seemed to get around to finalizing everything. Then the idea for this piece struck me, and it seemed like the perfect collaborative topic. They encouraged me to storyboard my ideas — which all relied on "found" video, simplifying things — and let me spell out what I wanted to do. I presented them with four ideas, and they listened to my insistence on some, but on others threw out the weak parts of what I suggested, came up with better alternatives and brought an editing style I couldn't have articulated. What's more, they did all of this in the wee hours, while working on existing full-time projects both day and night. What's most striking about the last video is that it was essentially made last-minute and is still so sharply done. I really can't thank them enough.
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I hope some readers will see that SA link and pay us the compliment of worrying. Thanks, but don't sweat it. We're not decamping for SomethingAwful.

I was asked to contribute to their site and initially declined. I thought I was being asked to publish regularly. Knowing my commitments elsewhere, I thought it was an impractical invitation. Also, to me, noticing this site and then asking me to contribute to another one often was like saying, "Mr. Tucker, you machined, engineered and manufactured your own car. Now trade that sucker in for a BRAND NEW CADILLAC!"

While the audience here doesn't pay the bills, it would be stupid to abandon what we've put together here. Thankfully the guy who presented the SA gig felt the same way. He'd ground out things freelance, and he knew both about unpredictable schedules and how easily the identity of one's personal work can be trammeled even by the masthead of the organs that print it.

Thus he generously offered to promote things back here — to run pieces under that site's brand but recognize that the content came from one specific notorious former African dictator and blogger. So while I can't print the whole of my SA pieces here, I can post teasers here whenever they are published, and those pieces will refer curious readers to MrDestructo.

Ideally, this should help bring more readers here, more people current readers and our contributors can interact with, more ideas to bounce off, more reasons to keep going. If the goal is finding new and renewing impetus to keep writing this junk, there is no reason not to like what's going on with this opportunity. Thank you again, everybody, very much, for reading.

Mobutu Sese Seko
Gstaad, 2010

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Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a politics, sports and media blog whose purpose is to tell jokes or be really right about things. All of us have real jobs and don't need the hassle that telling jokes here might occasion, which is why some contributors find it more tasteful to pretend to be dead mass murderers.