MyDamnChannel is another in a burgeoning set of web video/entertainment start-ups with a Hollywood connection. Others include Michael Eisner’s Vuguru, Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die, 60Frames (vaporware at the moment) and Europe’s Constant Comedy.
The only webisodic show that has begun so far is from writer/filmmaker David Wain “Wainy Days.” The first episode ended with a hottie French-kissing a surprised Wain (playing a nerdy character named David – a little fantasy fulfillment, David?). It wasn’t much different from a sitcom, but had a bit more edge and license to use foul-mouthed, rough-edged humor as it is not on TV. I’ll give it a second look, but not a third if it doesn’t perk up.
A short of Harry Shearer made up as Vice President Dick Cheney singing about Scooter Libby is clever, but a little too infra-dig. Do people really know (or care) much about Libby, convicted felon though he is?
Liz Gannes at newteevee was so fast on the site a lot of it wasn’t up yet, despite its announcement, and she trashes it pretty good: “So far the content isn’t especially appealing — there’s certainly no ‘Landlord’ video set to take the site to 41 million views and beyond. But the piling on of the pros hopefully will turn up something worth watching.”
Time called it A YouTube for VIPs, the way Huffington Post is blogging for celebrities (common thread between the two – Shearer).
But we found everything to be working – and quite smoothly a day later (Sometimes you need a man with a slow hand and an easy touch).
(Update – when I went back to MyDamnChannel today to pick up a few links and videos to embed, it wouldn’t load. Publicity crashes the online video star?)
How funny is it?
Pretty damn funny. But not howling out loud goddamn funny. At least not yet. Shearer is always funny, but the site is mostly populated by promos for shows about to begin.
I liked the Don Was channel the best. Was is an idiosyncratic musician and producer who had pop culture facetime in the group Was/NotWas, which produced a few unlikely dance/pop hits in the 1980s (“Walk the Dinosaur”). His channel will include a music stream, interviews with musicians (the kickoff talk is with ex-Guns ‘n’ Roses axeman Slash), and videos and songs for free (and legal!) download. The opening freebie is from Jill Sobule, an obscure but talented singer-songwriter.
Was promised a lucid interview with a sober Ozzy Osbourne for next week. That will probably be good for a few (unintentional) laughs. Was and Osbourne, by the way, go back many years; Osbourne sang on one of the Was/Not Was records.
MyDamnChannel is backed by Okapi Venture Capital. It’s a small Orange County, California, firm that raised $30 million for investment in 2006 and said nothing at the time about was looking for Hollywood bling to put in its portfolio. It must have been hard to resist.
Beyond the bling, what’s the pull? Big-name advertisers seeking elusive demographics (young, male, hip, trendsetters, heck even my 81-year-old father-in-law) that are abandoning “real” TV for the Internet. There is big money in this – if it draws people.
Even though the amount of Okapi’s investment has not been disclosed, you can be sure the Hollywood crowd – slightly edgy outsiders notwithstanding – doesn’t come cheap. This isn’t some garage-based, grassroots venture, folks. This group is talented, and smart enough to know how to play corporate ball without seeming to – subtle product placements anyone?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Harry Shearer and Don Was, but I for one don’t want to see truly of-the-people, by-the-people and for-the-people web video like Something to be Desired buried under the hype and glitz of Hollywood. MDC isn’t indie, that’s for damn sure.