Sales Guy: “Our website was at the very tip of the penis… and now I don’t know where anything is. I need the [desktop] icons back the way they were.”
Web Dude: “Well I can’t go back. There’s no way to go back. You can’t arrange them by penis.”
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This exchange is the perfect example of what makes “Sales Guy vs Web Dude,” the first episode in the screencasting series The Website is Down, so brilliant. The hilarious show, which follows the sarcastic “web dude” as he deals with technically challenged corporate dimwits, has catapulted itself from a simple vid shared among friends into a full-blown viral hit.
Josh Weinberg, the creator of The Website is Down, who is well-versed in the computer industry, said that his video is based on an experiences as a tech consultant, a job he has done for about 10 years. “That exact scenario was happening to me,” he recounts. “I was playing Halo and the system was having a problem, and I was dealing with that… It wasn’t like we really had to act. It’s exaggerated, but not a lot of research went into it.”
When Weinberg says “we,” he’s referring to the cast, a group of friends who came together to make the video. A fair amount of it was either ad-libbed or based on previous experiences. Said Weinberg, “Most of it was scripted, except for Jesse Johnson (Trevor from Arvada)’s stuff. We just said, ‘We’re going to call you, and you tell us that the website is down.’ We did 3 takes, and each one was different. And Casey Cochran (Sales Guy) has worked in tech for so long… we had experienced these situations before.”
After recording the dialogue, Weinberg spent about a month working on and off before he was satisfied with the video. He also worked extensively on the interface of the site, including the sarcastic Unix-like command line that shows up when you click “Desktop” on the top right corner of the site. Once he was ready to debut the video, he mailed it to 50 people he thought would find it funny, and posted it to StumbleUpon, the social website ranking network. From there, the video blew up in popularity. According to Weinberg, “Immediately in the first couple of hours it had about a thousand hits, but it kept growing. Here and there people would post it on their blogs, or we’d get an email saying, “We just emailed this to our whole IT staff.” It grew and grew to the point where it took down my server. I put it on blip.tv, which is cool, since they don’t brand it and you can embed the FLV… I started getting these crazy [view] numbers. I don’t even know how many, because people keep reposting it.” Weinberg says that except for blip.tv, he never reposted his creation on video sharing sites , which is a surprise because his video has collected 360,000 views on Youtube, and over 1.2 million on Break.
Looking ahead, Weinberg says we can expect more episodes in the future. In the meantime, he and his friends are going to recoup from the explosion in popularity of the video, and plan their future release schedule. As Weinberg explained, “I don’t know if I could release videos like Homestar Runner, week after week. Maybe like once a month. Or maybe we could just do a whole bunch at once, and release it piece by piece.”
Whichever route they take, we look forward to watching this series develop; from the reaction to the pilot, we expect The Website is Down to be a big hit.