It feels like yesterday we were reading about Google's $1.6 billion buyout of YouTube, and scoffing at the idea that a nascent online media property filled with America's funniest home videos gone haywire could fetch sucn a hefty sum. Yet since YouTube made online video mainstream, a wide array of video sites have emerged, seemingly riding on the popular site's user-generated coattails.
Surprisingly, or not, many of the newcomers are doing an amazing job attracting audiences, riveted to mind-numbing, frivolous videos as a form of entertainment. More importantly, these sites are attracting a number of users willing to create content that might catapult them to online stardom.
One site, Funny or Die, seems to have found a growing pool of would-be comedians willing to spend hours doing their craft. In a year's time the site has already grown to millions of users. Funny or Die attracted 3.8 million unique visitors and nearly 16 million pageviews, in the latest month, according to Quantcast.
Funny or Die is a relatively new video comedy site created and co-founded by the funny man himself Will Farrell. It's received $15 million in venture funding from blue-chip VC Sequoia Capital. What makes the site intriguing is its simple voting system and message. The site's raisons d'etre is to find the funniest videos. You can't get any simpler than that.
Videos can be voted to "Immortal" status, where it will bask in the Funny or Die Hall of Fame. Or videos can be voted off to "The Crypt," a place where all the non-funny videos are cast away to rot and die. This system allows users to critique content, ensuring - theoretically - that the videos reaching immortal status will be certain to make us fall over and laugh, even "10,000 years from now when mankind becomes floating orbs of energy," according to Funnyordie's site.
Of course, the site has become notable because of Farrell's star power. Farrell is most commonly associated with blockbuster movies like Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights. "The Landlord" - in which Farrell stars - has already reached over 56 million views. Even though much controversy has risen from this video alone, it has put Funnyordie.com on the map.
So far Will Farrel has managed the attract the likes of John Mayer, Eva Longoria, Bill Murray, Brooke Shields, Jerry O'Connell, Fergie, Jason Biggs, Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Sarah SIlverman, Owen Wilson and a list of A-List stars to join the efforts, all of which have created or promised to create future content for the site. However, the challenge for Funnyordie is to get a number of other videos to be viewed just as much. To date, only 11 videos have been viewed over 1 million times. Compare this to the "comedy" channel on YouTube, where 22 video clips have been viewed over 1 million times, just in the last month.
Still, for all those aspiring comedians and funny people, Funny or Die should be another testing ground to find an audience. You can't be on enough platforms these days. Just be aware that being voted off to "The Crypt" may just crumble your dreams of making us laugh one day. But I doubt that'll be the case for everyone on the site. After all, Funny or Die relies on funny people. We'll see if it can get enough traction and user base with its star studded cast, if not it may find itself heading for "The Crypt."