CollegeHumor, Popular Comedy Web Site, Crosses Over to MTV
Saturday, February 7, 2009
NEW YORK -- Kevin Corrigan looks as if he's about to cry. Or puke. Eyes glassy, fingers coated in orange Dorito dust, he diligently taps away at his keyboard, struggling to get through another day at the office. And today his office is paying him to eat the entire contents of a vending machine.
Corrigan's boss, Ricky Van Veen, rifles through the technicolor pile of foil and plastic on Corrigan's desk. "Just eating these alone is already a bet," Van Veen says with a shudder, pointing to an empty bag of ketchup-flavored potato chips. Corrigan's colleagues calculate that he's ingested more than 3,600 calories in the past three hours. The cameras keep rolling.
It's a Friday afternoon at the offices of CollegeHumor.com, the burgeoning comedy Web site where young writers and editors spend their days doing the ridiculous, capturing it on video and sharing it with an audience of millions online. And, starting tomorrow night on MTV, on television, too.
"What Will Kevin Do for Ricky's Money?" is one of the Web site's newer sketches, in which the editor in chief pays his pluckiest staff writer to suffer the insufferable. The first installment required Corrigan to sit through seven consecutive screenings of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." "This is much worse," he mumbles.
Here's what's harder to believe: CollegeHumor's cast of hyperactive 20-somethings is actually getting paid to goof off in this sleek Manhattan office space, floating high above the recession on a sprawling cloud of absurdist pranks and rapid-fire punch lines.
Shot almost entirely in this office, "The CollegeHumor Show" stars nine CollegeHumor staffers playing exaggerated versions of themselves. Writer and cast member Dan Gurewitch attempts to distill the meta-ness of it all: "It's like what '30 Rock' would be if the actors on '30 Rock' were actually writing and shooting '30 Rock' in '30 Rock.' "
That means staff members have spent the past four months trying to shoot six episodes for the show's first season while maintaining a Web site that never sleeps. It's been a grind, but to a target audience that's presumably dreading its post-college fate, CollegeHumor's workaday world must seem like Shangri-La.
What could be more comforting to a fretful undergrad than knowing there's an actual company out there ready to hire someone who's willing to eat four dozen bags of Frito-Lay products before 5 p.m.?
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Highlights from the CollegeHumor office tour: a workstation dedicated to video games, a stuffed coyote (purely decorative) and a copy machine that appears to have fallen down a few flights of stairs.
"There's a lot of office equipment in here that's just for smashing," Van Veen, 28, explains, sipping on a can of Diet Sunkist. "A couple of days ago we were playing laptop Jenga."
The image of a toppling tower of laptops suggests that it's flush times for CollegeHumor. The site has been averaging 6 million unique visitors a month for the past year and is still basking in the afterglow of being scooped up in 2006 by IAC, the Barry Diller media conglomerate that also owns Match.com and Vimeo.