The experience is universal enough that when comedy writer Matt Moskovciak pretended the answer was yes, it’s on purpose, he created the most successful online video of his career.
Meet “Everyone’s Upstairs Neighbors.”
For years, Moskovciak worked as a journalist by day, but would spend his nights and weekends with the Upright Citizens Brigade, the comedy group best known for founding member Amy Poehler. From there, he and two friends started making sketch videos for the Web as a group called The Bilderbergers.
Finally, he worked his way into a full-time job that never could have existed a decade ago: creating comedy sketches not for TV, film or stage, but just to be shared on the Internet. He created “Everyone’s Upstairs Neighbors” as a staff writer for Above Average, the Internet-centered arm of the production company responsible for “Saturday Night Live,” “Portlandia” and the “Tonight Show.”
“This is the kind of stuff that I would do after work all the time, but now it’s my day job,” he said. “I’m constantly trying to come up with something that’s funny and will resonate with people.”
Enter, his own neighbors.
“One time I could hear the ‘House of Cards’ theme song, not just once, but 10 times within 15 minutes,” he said. “I was thinking, are they just watching it over and over?”
Once Above Average was on board with the idea, the search was on for incredibly noisy props. His favorite was the bag of marbles dumped onto the hardwood floor.
“We only did one take,” he said, “because we had to go find and pick up all those marbles.”
They filmed the sketch in an apartment in Brooklyn, and yes, they did warn the downstairs neighbors. The residents permitted their noise-making as long as they wrapped up the filming by 5:30 p.m.
In the 10 days since the video’s release, it has attracted 2.7 million views, more than any other of Moskovciak’s videos. (Here’s one on food-delivery service Seamless and a series mocking Kickstarter.)
The week after it went online, Moskovciak’s upstairs neighbors were eerily quiet.
Are they doing that on purpose? he wondered. Did they see the video?
Then a few days ago, the noise started again.
“I think they must have been on vacation,” he said.