Posted by Ryan Torok
Like a lot of comedians, Scott Gairdner, who has achieved online celebrity via YouTube and comedy sites, is self-conscious—and he admits it.
“The internet is great for someone like me, who is far too nervous to get ahead by working the standup scene or something like that,” Gairdner, a staff writer-director for funnyordie.com, said during a recent interview.
As explained in this Huffington Post piece, Gairdner’s latest sketch, “Staying Positive with Jesse Eisenberg”—featuring him impersonating “The Social Network” star—has gone viral. In the video, seven tweens ask Eisenberg about “life, love and growing up in the 2010s,” as Gairdner-playing-Eisenberg says in the sketch’s introduction.
Gairdner skillfully mimics Eisenberg’s condescending-robot tone and caffeinated speech pattern, completing the Eisenberg look with sleep-deprived eyes.
Video courtesy of Funny or Die.
The video’s cheesy-eighties vibe was inspired by a video found a thrift store, Gairdner said.
“I watched this terrible ‘talking to girls about their problems’ VHS I found at a Goodwill, and I thought it would be hilarious to throw the blunt, awkward Jesse Eisenberg persona into a show like that,” he said.
It’s the second time Gairdner has impersonated Eisenberg, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and whom the Journal interviewed prior to the 2011 Academy Awards.
Gairdner previously took on Eisenberg in a fake audition tape of Eisnberg trying out James Franco’s role in “127 Hours.”
Gaidner said that he hasn’t heard from Eiesnberg or the actor’s camp about the good-humored videos.
“I’m really hoping we do at some point,” Gairdner said.
Gairdner, a relative newcomer on the comedy scene, is doing well for himself, landing a full-time gig with Funny or Die, Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay’s comedy video website, and racking up more than 14 million views of the sketches he’s featured on his YouTube channel.
Among the channel’s many videos, there’s the sitcom-mocking “Chicago and Me,” about a nine-year-old boy who is adopted by legendary band Chicago, and “Juggalo News,” which Gairdner, as a news anchor named Krazee Thug Nutz, says is the only news network “specifically for fans of Insane Clown Posse.”
The Insane Clown Posse video is a must-see, and it’s what scored Gairdner the position at Funny or Die—a coveted job, I imagine, if you’re an aspiring comedian. McKay, who helmed the Ferrell comedies, “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights,” saw “Juggalo News,” asked Gairdner to make more installments of it and eventually asked Gairdner to join the “Funny or Die” staff.
“It was a great series of events that I’m still tremendously thankful for,” Gairdner said.
While the web and Gairdner appear to be a good match, “Having lots of million view videos doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll get a TV show,” he said. “But it certainly helps to get audience feedback to your work.”
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June 5, 2011 | 5:12 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
Over the weekend, I stumbled onto “Why Jews Laugh at Themselves,” an article written by Hillel Halkin that was published in Commentary Magazine in 2006. (Unless you purchase the article for $4.95, you can only read the abstract.)
In the Commentary article, Halkin, who has also translated Yiddish short stories by Shalem Aleichem (“Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories,” 1987), points to an old skit by Jack Benny that skillfully plays on Jewish stereotypes for laughs:
Benny is accosted by an armed mugger who threatens, “Your money or your life.” The comedian takes his time answering and, when prodded with a gun, protests: “I’m thinking. I’m thinking!”
Harkin says that Benny’s joke relies on two stereotypes about Jews: that Jews love money and that they “over-intellectualize.”
While steroetypes, as everyone knows, are often negative generalizations about groups or individuals, as a Jew I’m proud of our peoples’ tendency to over-intellectualize – which is Harkin’s point: that while self-deprecation is thought of being a primary characteristic of Jewish humor, real Jewish humor is both self-deprecating and self-praising.
“Are we not also forced to admire the person who refuses to be rushed even by a threat to his life,” Halkin says, of the Benny joke, “and insists on his right to rational reflection?”
“A stereotypical Jew,” Halkin says, “thinks before acting.”
Yes we do.