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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) 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 disables voting for a video, merely saying "Chosen One" instead.
Television & Movie Productions
Funny Or Die expanded to include a television and film production company in 2011.
Between Two Ferns
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 Islandâ™s Spring Break Anthem music video was embedded into an episode with James Franco and featured the actor Edward Norton.
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.
Billy on the Street
Funny Or Dieâ™s Billy on the Street is a half hour comedy game show hosted by Billy Eichner. The showâ™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.
In 2013, Eichner received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Game Show Host.The series wrapped its third season on May 14th, 2014.
"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 narratorâ™s dialogue.
Due to their general drunkenness the narrators are unable to accurately discuss the historical events and often times 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 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 21st, 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.
@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.
The Spoils of Babylon
The Spoils of Babylon is a comedy miniseries that aired on January 9th, 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.
Ferrell plays Eric Jonrosh, a fictional author whose novel is being adapted for TV. The Spoils of Babylon novel follows a wealthy oil tycoonâ™s family, the Morehouses. Robbins plays Jonas Morehouse, the patriarch of the family. Wiig and Maguire play incestuous siblings, Cynthia and Devon.
IFC and Funny Or Die adapted Jonroshâ™s first novel, The Spoils Before Dying into another miniseries, which aired on July 8th 2015.
Throwing Shade is a podcast hosted by Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi, that addresses topics such as mainstream pop culture, womenâ™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.
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.
The duo have recorded 80 videos since signing on with Funny Or Die.
Between Two Ferns (2008-2014, Funny Or Die)
Funny Or Die Presents (2010-2011, HBO)
Jon Benjamin Has a Van (2011, Comedy Central)
Billy on the Street (2011-Present, Fuse/truTV)
Brody Stevens: Enjoy It! (2013, Comedy Central)
Drunk History (2013-present, Comedy Central)
@midnight (2013-Present, Comedy Central)
The Spoils Of Babylon (2014, IFC)
American Muscle (2014-present, Discovery)
The Spoils Before Dying (2015, IFC)
Americaâ™s Next Weatherman (2015, TBS)
The Chris Gethard Show (2015-Present, Fusion)
Throwing Shade (2013-Present, TV Land )
What's Going On? with Mike Mitchell (2011, FX)
The Gorburger Show (2015, HBO)
Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles
On November 23rd 2013, HBO presented a special in association with Funny Or Die titled, âœSarah Silverman: We Are Miraclesâ featuring stand-up by comedian Sarah Silverman. During her hour-long set, Silverman made jokes about rape, religion, and her personal insecurities.
The special received a 2014 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Variety Special and Silvermanâ™s writing earned her an Emmy win for Outstanding Writing For a Variety Special. Record label Sub Pop, went on to release the special on vinyl, CD, and through digital download.
Jerrod Carmichael: Love At The Store
Funny Or Die produced a special featuring comedian Jerrod Carmichael for HBO which aired on October 4th 2014. During the 70 minute special, Carmichael covers topics including poverty and wealth, controversial artists, female empowerment, and crime and race.
âœJerrod Carmichael: Love At The Store,â was directed by Spike Lee, featured stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael 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.
Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted
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.
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.
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)
Ferrell Takes the Field (2015, HBO)
Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted (2015, HBO)
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012, co-production with Abso Lutely Productions)
iSteve (2013, released online via Funny Or Die)
Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie (2016, 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, 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.
Funny Or Die Comedy Tour
In February 2008, Funny Or Die launched "Will Ferrellâ™s Funny Or Die Comedy Tour Presented by â˜Semi-Proâ™", 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 began on February 4th 2008 and ended on February 24th 2008.
Funny Or Die Oddball Comedy Festival
In June 2013 Funny Or Die announced the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival comedy tour partnered with Live NationThe 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 began on August 23rd, 2013 and ended on September 22nd, 2013.
In 2014, Funny Or Die continued the Oddball Festival, touring 20 cities across the U.S. from August 8th-September 21st. The tour featured comedians Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, Chris Hardwick, Amy Schumer, and Jim Gaffigan.
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 started on August 28th and ended on October 18th 2015.
Treasure Island Music Festival: Blah Blah Blah Comedy Tent
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.
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 traditional 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 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.
Hoaxes & Controversies
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.
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!).
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