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Comic Genius: Will Ferrell

Imitation is the sincerest form of
flattery, and Will Ferrell is a master of
imitation (think of his Saturday Night Live
impersonations of George W. Bush and
Jeopardy host Alex Trebek). But now it’s his
comedy video Web site FunnyOrDie.com
that’s being imitated.

Started in 2007 by Ferrell and Saturday
Night Live
writer Adam McKay, FunnyOrDie
has been so successful, its parent company,
Or Die Networks, has spun off other sites
using the same business model. These
include skateboarder-entrepreneur Tony
Hawk’s ShredOrDie.com and a celebrity
chefs’ site called EatDrinkOrDie.com.

While there are tons of funny sites and
videos on the Web, there aren’t many with
the number of viewers or celebrity content of
FunnyOrDie.com. Ferrell’s site averages more
than 6 million viewers a month and streams
over 100 million top comedian and celebrity
videos a month. The first video on the site,
The Landlord, had 60 million viewers and
featured McKay’s 2-year-old daughter, Pearl,
playing Ferrell’s angry landlord. FunnyOrDie
also is a place where aspiring comedians can
submit their own videos and viewers vote on
them—the funniest videos remain, while the
rest, well, die.

Beyond being the funny guy we see in
movies like the summer hit Land of the
Lost
and The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
scheduled for release in early fall, Ferrell
is also a savvy businessman. As a board
member of Or Die Networks, he provides
daily creative input and weighs in on
company initiatives.

FunnyOrDie’s CEO Dick Glover credits the
site’s success to Ferrell’s active participation.
Ferrell doesn’t believe in bootstrapping to his
name or having a vanity site, Glover says.

What does he believe in? Providing a
quality product. Oh, and being funny.

Cracking Up in Suburbia
Growing up in safe, master-planned Irvine, Calif., Will Ferrell says boredom
was his comic inspiration. “There was no drama so we had to create it in our
heads,” he told the Orange County Register. “My main form of entertainment
was cracking my friends up and exploring new ways of being funny. I didn’t
have the survival mode instinct of other comics who grew up in tough
neighborhoods. I had the opposite. For me, I grew up in Mayberry, and the
humor broke the boredom. And there was a lot to make fun of.”

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