10 times Funny or Die beat tech journalists at their own game
When you think of Funny or Die, you probably think of Will Ferrell's toddler landlord or the time Barack Obama was subjected to Zack Galifianakis' Dadaist interrogation on "Between Two Ferns."
But the wildly popular video site -- which is as much a cultural institution as any new media outlet founded in the digital age -- has also proven itself to be among the most trenchant commentators on Silicon Valley and the larger tech ecosystem -- often beating tech journalists at their own game. Indeed, of all the qualities missing from most tech journalism (skepticism, historical context, backbone...), a sense of humor might be the one it's most lacking. I mean, this is a space that makes billionaires out of kids who have barely graduated from puberty, all because they figured out a slightly better way for teenagers to send dicks to each other. It takes an appreciation for absurdity to really grasp the dynamics of how wealth is created in the new digital economy.
From Uber to Buzzfeed, no tech company or new media outlet is safe from Funny or Die's scathing treatments. And so expect things to get pretty meta when Sarah Lacy talks to the the site's CEO Dick Glover and Creative Director Director Andrew Steele this Wednesday on the PandoMonthly stage in San Francisco, about how they've navigated the frothy yet tumultuous waters of digital media to build a successful cross-platform entertainment company. Tickets are still available for only $20, which gets you free food, booze, soft drinks, and an opportunity to witness firsthand the brains and buffoonery that drive Funny or Die's success.
In the meantime, check out these ten clips and articles that reveal more about the tech industry than the flurry of press releases and resume changes that generally makes up Techmeme's homepage.
10. The Monsters Of A Rapidly Changing Media LandscapeDigital media conferences are a waste of time. If you want a bunch of business-casual Shingys and thinkfluential jargon-mongers to thought-lead you to the new media promised land, save your money and watch this instead.
9. 33 Must-Have Apple Watch AccessoriesIn a fake keynote, Tim Cook reveals a line of Apple Watch accessories. And without giving anything away, it's a perfect and elegant summation of why the Apple Watch is basically useless.
8. Blackberry Meltdown With Dave FoleyI'm not sure if you could say Dave Foley has aged "gracefully," but he's definitely aged hilariously. Watching the comedian's evolution from Kids in the Hall to NewsRadio to his recent guest sadsack stints in shows like Always Sunny In Philadelphia is like watching a man slowly give up on life, one compromise at a time. (I'm talking about his characters, not the actor). So it's only appropriate that here he plays a spokesperson for that saddest of tech companies, Blackberry. At one point, Foley loses it and says, "You don't like keyboards? OK, fine. Fuck it! Just tell us what you want!"
7. Tricia and Johanna: YelpersOver the lifespan of any popular consumer service, there's always a period of time between early and mainstream adoption when an app is new enough for users to still be obsessed with it, but old enough to have attracted everyday people -- much to the annoyance of these horribly obnoxious "power users." This video captures these obsessives perfectly. And because it's about a comparatively trivial service like Yelp and not, say, Twitter or LinkedIn, it highlights the total absurdity of what it means to be a "power user" of any service, even those supposedly "important" consumer products. Best line? "Ugh it smells like food in here."
6. Historic Firsts With Patton OswaltIn the pre-Twitter world, back when comment sections were the only outlet for sad basement-dwelling trolls to piss off strangers on the Internet, one of the trolliest moves was to find an article that was just posted and then write "First" as the first comment in the thread. Compared to the abuse now perpetrated by trolls, this seems rather quaint. Nevertheless, at the time it was exceedingly irritating, and as a tribute to this old relic Patton Oswalt explains the history of the first, going back to the Declaration of Independence where somebody had signed their name as "First," but then John Hancock "out-firsted" him by signing his name incredibly large on top of it.
5. Everclear's Windows 10 Album GiveawayAlthough the 90s alternative rockers Everclear had a handful of hits, let's be frank: Beyond "Santa Monica," there isn't much to love about their music, which is emblematic of the post-grunge pop era that spawned some of the most lackluster, middle-of-the-road bands of all time, like Matchbox 20 and Train. But Art Alexakis might be the greatest sport of all time, agreeing to star in a fake ad for Windows 10 which supposedly comes preloaded with Everclear's new album (which is as fake as the ad itself). While the clip is clearly a swipe at Apple who took heat for loading U2's new album on millions of iTunes accounts, it's even harder on Microsoft -- which is apparently so lame that Everclear was the best band the company could find to promote Windows 10.
4. If Buzzfeed Was Your Text-Happy FriendThanks to Facebook, Buzzfeed is so ubiquitous on our phones that the site sometimes feels less like a media organization and more like an annoying acquaintance who won't stop texting you pictures of dogs saving pigs. That's the simple yet brilliant premise behind this article that out-Buzzfeeds Buzzfeed.
3. Comcast Doesn't Give A FuckFrom the horrible customer service they provide to the deliberate slowing down your favorite online video sites, everybody already knows Comcast doesn't give a fuck. And the worst thing about it, as this video drives home, is that Comcast doesn't have to give a fuck because with limited customer options for cable and Internet -- and a proposed merger with Time Warner -- many Americans will have little choice but to patronize the company. Even if it literally tells the nation, as it does in this video, "Hey America, go fuck yourselves."
2. The FCC Wishes the World Wide Web a Happy 25th BirthdayThere's really nothing funny at all about this parody of a Public Service Announcement from the FCC, wherein a photogenic family gathers around the kitchen table and discusses how the Internet of the future, decimated by an erosion of net neutrality, will be as closed-off, controlled, and bundled into expensive packages by corporations -- just like cable television, which the Internet was supposed to disrupt.
1. An apology from UberLess than apology and more of a pledge to do as much evil as humanly possible, this fake PR video encourages knife attacks on Lyft drivers, sexual assaults toward passengers, and the use of handguns on investigative journalists. It also announces a new initiative to only hire rapists. It's almost too close to reality to be funny.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]