Will Ferrell’s Web Site: Where Bad Comedy Goes to Die

A new video-sharing site quietly launched by comedian Will Ferrell’s production company last week is already a big hit with comedy fans online.

Since Thursday, “Funny or Die” has drawn millions of page views, largely on the strength of a two-minute short by Ferrell and his producing partner, writer-director Adam McKay.

Titled “The Landlord,” the wildly popular clip features Ferrell as an apartment tenant being confronted for rent by his angry landlord, played by McKay’s two-year-old daughter, Pearl. The clip has also appeared on YouTube, reportedly drawing thousands more views.

Funny or Die, created by Ferrell and McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions company along with venture capital firm Sequoia — which has funded both YouTube and Google — also features comedy videos uploaded by users. However, in a departure from the model set by YouTube and other video-sharing sites, users themselves vote to decide which videos stay and which get banished to the “Crypt.”

The People Decide

“The idea was that we could do material that was just sort of goof-around stuff, without going through any kind of development process,” McKay told the E-Commerce Times. “Because we had worked on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ we still had ideas from that format. We also figured our company, Gary Sanchez Productions, could keep an eye out for new talent this way.”

Once the idea got more developed, “we started to get a tad ambitious, and wanted to develop this into a good comedy site with its own filtering system,” McKay said.

The user-voted rating system is “a bit brusque,” McKay acknowledges, but “it gives you some sense of where something’s at.”

Videos relegated to the Crypt “are gone — that’s it,” but before they get sent there they go through various other stages, including “Uh-oh,” which means they’re in trouble.

Coming Soon

Because of the danger that the rating system could banish some diamonds-in-the-rough — not to mention Ferrell’s and McKay’s own works, McKay quipped — “we’re talking about adding a feature called ‘Gary Sanchez’s favorite picks,’ which would essentially feature staff picks,” McKay said.

That feature is due to be added in the next week or so.Also coming up on the site will be a short video featuring Ferrell and including McKay’s wife, as well as a follow-up to “The Landlord,” again featuring McKay’s daughter Pearl.

“Basically, this is a place where your average user can put stuff up and established actors and comedians can mess around,” McKay stated.

Making It Possible

“In the world of TV, there have been all sorts of ways to measure who’s hot, but the Internet does away with all of those,” Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey told the E-Commerce Times. “This gets right to the guts of it — is this person funny or not? You can find out in days rather than months or years.”

Advances in technology and connection speeds have now come far enough that this sort of user-voted rating system is possible for video, he added. Funny or Die is reminiscent of the site Hot or Not, he noted, with the key difference of using video rather than photos.

“We’re just to the point where network connections are fast enough to make this possible,” he said.

“If you have a brand in the business like Will Ferrell does, you can get a lot of attention this way,” McQuivey concluded. “It’s smart for him and smart for the industry because it provides a place for aspiring comics to try performing. And, of course, the connection with Ferrell would be good for anyone.”

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