Press "Enter" to skip to content

Funny or Die, the company of the director of 'Do not look up' that was made of gold thanks to Paris Hilton and Barack Obama

The opinion of the specialized critics has had little to do with the fact that the film Don't look up has been crowned as the first most viewed on Netflix . According to data from the platform, always brief, the film accumulates more than 152 million of hours viewed, so the sheer volume of reactions it has generated on social media is easily explained. If with the pandemic amateur virologists came out from even under the stones and the eruption of the La Palma volcano awarded the title of volcanologist to many others, with this latest work by the director Adam McKay Social and cinematographic analysts to walk around the house came up. Opine, that something remains.

Of course, McKay doesn't have a silly hair and has manufactured a product full of hyper-known faces that deals with a subject that affects literally everyone: the imminent destruction of the planet. The protagonists are desperate scientists, useless and interested politicians, super villain tech moguls, and a society lulled by social media. The message is not very subtle, but it manages to interpellate any type of spectator: from the denier who identifies with the president of the United States interpreted by Meryl Streep to the environmental activist who is reflected in the ignored scientist who gives life Leonardo Dicaprio. Trending topic on Twitter.

Many musings can be made about the intentions of the film, but there is one that is clear, which is to make people laugh. It is what the director does best, who does not use any type of humor: without subtleties, direct and sometimes even crude, although in Don't look up is smoothed. Where he has really unleashed his true comedian instincts has been in other jobs such as scriptwriter on the famous show Saturday Night Live (where he worked from 1995 to 2001) or as co-responsible for the production company Funny or Die .

Laugh or sink

McKay founded the company in 2007 with Will Ferrell . It started as a website for humor videos that took off with The Landlord by Chris Henchy and eventually became a film, television, webseries and podcast production company with an audience of more than 40 million people on all its platforms. Henchy's video, which tells the story of a man (Will Ferrell) being bullied by his landlady (Pearl, McKay's daughter, who was two years old at the time), went viral almost before the concept existed and with an investment from the Sequoia Capital fund they began to produce now grow as a company.

From the outset, the idea was that users could also upload their videos to the platform. Thus, they received votes that would take them to the category Funny , in the home page of the web (where logically they would get more views) or a The crypt (where no one is looking). At first they only tried to get visitors to the site, but soon they were encouraged to shoot their own videos and –thanks also to the push of The Landlord – they were increasing their expectations. Little by little they were incorporating scriptwriters and more staff to the team and, although their workplace did not have any glamor , they got very famous celebrities like Eva Longoria participated in their productions.

But in 2008, after a few ups and downs, came Paris Hilton and, like the true Queen Midas that she is, she turned them into gold. John McCain , then presidential candidate of the United States, used the image of the famous to accuse his opponent, Barack Obama , of wanting to be a mere celebrity without qualities to rule as she could be. McKay, a supporter of the Democratic Party like his peers, saw the opportunity and proposed to Hilton to make a response video. She accepted and in two days they had it.

The celebrity appeared sitting in a swimsuit in a hammock releasing a series of taunts McCain: “I don't promise things like the other guy, I'm just hot. But that wrinkled, gray-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, so I guess I'm running for president. So thanks for the support (…) I have to choose a vice president, I'm thinking about Rihanna. See you at the White House, I'm thinking of painting it pink. I hope you like it”. Widespread applause.

That same year they released Between Two Ferns ( Between two ferns ), a parody of a talk show hosted by actor Zach Galifianakis on a shabby set with a black cloth in the background, a couple of chairs and two plants on the sides (hence the name). The comedian subjected famous stars to a series of absurd and offensive questions to which they responded sullenly. The first improvised episode was with Michael Cera and there have passed Brad Pitt , Benedict Cumberbatch , Jennifer Aniston, Jerry Seinfeld (one of the most successful) and even Barack Obama.

In 2014, the former President was in his second term and was promoting his health reform law better known as Obamacare , aimed at providing health care to all people regardless their purchasing power. As much as they have tried and regardless of their policies, no other American president has so far had more media charisma than the Hawaiian and in a single day the traffic of the HealthCare.gov page had increased by 40%, with more than 890,000 visits. In 2019, Netflix released Between Two Ferns. The movie and the show is still running. Two weeks ago they released a new Christmas special episode with Samuel L. Jackson and Tobey Maguire .

Left-wing political activism – as far as the American Democratic Party goes – from humor is key in the productions of Funny or Die. Among others, they have supported the campaign for healthy eating that was launched by Michelle Obama in 2015, promoted gender pay equality with Christina Hendricks and Kristen Bell as protagonists and they have made videos to warn of the dangers that the presidency of Donald Trump .