Apr 9, 2015 · 2 minutes

In April 2007, the massively popular comedy platform Funny or Die posted its first-ever video. Titled "The Landlord," it starred Will Ferrell as a tenant whose landlord -- played by an enterprising 2-year-old -- demands his rent payment, cursing him out so enthusiastically that he's reduced to tears. It's pretty hilarious, and the video went on to pick up 82 million views.

But both the creators and the audience for web video have matured greatly since then. Production houses both big and small have invested billions in video production, starring all manner of celebrities. Sure, "The Landlord" is funny. But if the video came out today, would it go viral?

Funny or Die's Creative Director Andrew Steele doesn't think so. He told Sarah Lacy as much at tonight's PandoMonthly in San Francisco.

"When Will Ferrel did 'The Landlord,' that video exploded," Steele said. "If he did it today, it’d still be funny, people would watch it, but it wouldn’t explode. The culture has changed so everyone’s doing short form. You have to be better. You have to find new ways to outsmart people."

Which, Steele admits, is a good thing, leading to better content and happier audiences. In fact, he likens the fierce competition for attention to his days working on a much older medium -- television -- as a top writer for SNL, fighting with his fellow writers to put jokes in the mouths of Will Ferrell, Tiny Fey, and Tracy Morgan.

"You’re in a room in a vicious, competitive read-through each week, and you have to win," Steele said. "You can’t just go there and be a writer and say, 'Okay, I’ll just sit here for 13 years.' You have to keep winning. The game doesn’t really change."

So the Internet is essentially an enormous version of the notoriously brutal SNL writing room. And while creators have exponentially more time with audiences than the mere 90 minutes a week SNL writers are fighting to fill, there are also exponentially more competitors -- and no such thing as a "captive" audience.

"Every website is thinking the same thing," said Funny or Die CEO Dick Glover. "College Humor or the Onion... you have to break through the clutter. It’s never ending. But that’s what your job is in entertainment anyway. That’s your job in any sort of content company."