The Baby is Back on Ferrell's Funnyordie

By Joshua Zumbrun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 26, 2007; 8:12 AM

Two months after Will Ferrell's humor video " The Landlord" went viral -- and sparked controversy for its use of a beer-toting two-year-old -- the comedian is back online with another offering, " Good Cop, Baby Cop," starring the same child as an abusive police officer.

The video went up late Monday night on the site Funnyordie, a collaboration between Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (director of Ferrell films "Anchorman," and "Talladega Nights" and a writer during Ferrell's years on "Saturday Night Live"). Michael Kvamme, a partner at Sequoia Capital, approached them about launching a video-sharing site devoted exclusively to comedy. (Creative Artists Agency, the Hollywood talent agency that represents Ferrell and McKay, also has a stake in Funny or Die, Inc.)

Kvamme got the idea with his teenage son, an aspiring stand-up comic. "We were sitting around saying that there are no good comedy Web sites on the net," he recalls. "I looked around a bit, looked at YouTube, saw there was a lot of comedy up there, but it was kind of hard to find."

On Funnyordie, anyone can create an account and post comedy videos, but only videos from celebrities -- the site features Jason Biggs, Brooke Shields, Jenna Elfman among others -- are guaranteed prime placement atop the home page. User submitted videos are posted and then face peer review: "Funny" or "Die." With enough "Funny" rankings, some user-submitted videos can end up rubbing shoulders with A-list celeb videos.

"The Landlord" was the site's very first video, and featured Ferrell arguing with McKay's daughter, Pearl. Pearl played an angry, foul-mouthed, alcoholic landlord demanding Ferrell pay the rent so she can buy her beer. The punch line: Pearl is a cherubic two year old. Pearl is again featured in "Good Cop, Baby Cop." This time Ferrell is a criminal and Pearl is a police interrogator who will extract her confession "NYPD Blue"-style if she must (and again, if you are not amused by profane babies, this comedy isn't for you).

But will "Good Cop, Baby Cop" get the same response as "The Landlord"? When that video came out, also came the outrage, with commentators wondering whether this time Hollywood had gone too far. Asked Bill O'Reilly on Fox News: "Did actor/comedian Will Ferrell damage a 2-year-old girl by putting her into an Internet comedy bit?" (The TV graphic accompanying O'Reilly? A picture of Will Ferrell with the caption "Child Exploitation?") Asked "The Today Show": "Does Ferrell video cross the line?" The segment featured a psychologist worrying that parents might make similar videos with their own children. (A mash up of O'Reilly's response -- as if he's interviewing wee Pearl -- appears on Funnyordie.)

Regardless, it brought publicity to the site, the gag worked, and from amateur comedians to movie stars people are jumping in on the action. Over 5,000 videos have already been posted to the site, with over 70 million views in total, according to Funnyordie COO Mitch Galbraith. "The Landlord" has been viewed -- if the site's view tracker is accurate -- over 36 million times, making it among the most popular viral videos ever posted on the Internet (by contrast, YouTube's most popular video of all time, " The Evolution of Dance," has been viewed around 51 million times).Funnyordie joins a growing horde of well-funded companies trying to steal away some of YouTube's eyeballs: Google Video, MSN Soapbox, Yahoo! Video, MySpace Video, AOL UnCut, and an entire army of upstarts such as DailyMotion, Flurl, LiveVideo, Revver, Veoh.

This is why you need an A-list celebrity arguing with a foul-mouthed toddler to even get noticed.

"Literally Pearl got offered a movie off of it. Somebody came to CAA with a project with Jackie Chan and wanted to attach Pearl to it," says the starlet's proud father, McKay. "She doesn't remember any of it. She never said any of it again. She doesn't know what 'Get your drink on means,' " says McKay of his daughter. "We know what we're doing as parents."

McKay was initially bugged by the criticism. "Do I write a piece on it, in Huffington Post or the New York Times about how pathetic broadcast news has gotten?" he recalls asking himself.

("Good Cop, Baby Cop" will be Pearl's last acting gig. A release from Funnyordie "quoted" Pearl saying "My ventures as an actor on the Internet have been rewarding and spiritually fulfilling, but now I must look to broader challenges as I approach my 26th month.")

Luckily, other stars keep bringing it.

Jack McBrayer, who plays the hapless page Kenneth on NBC's "30 Rock" and who worked with Ferrell and McKay on "Talladega Nights," found out about "The Landlord" video like most people. "It was forwarded to me," he says. "I didn't even realize it was those fellows doing this Web site."

Then McBrayer ran into an old friend from his days doing comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade who works on the site. His response when the friend suggested he post a video: "Are you kidding? I would walk over hot coals if those boys asked me to."

"It's funny, when you just come across people who are like 'I'm working on something for' you say 'oh yeah, you're in the club,' " says McBrayer, whose video has not yet been posted.

Future confirmed participants include McBrayer, Bill Murray, Eva Longoria, Li'l John, Danny DeVito, John C. Reilly and Sally Jessy Raphael who will join Will Ferrell, Ed Helms, Jimmy Fallon, Brooke Shields, Jeremy Piven, Jenna Elfman, Michael Cera, James Franco, Rob Corddry and Jason Biggs.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company