Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Andy Samberg ‘the comedian for the digital age’

Andy quotes in bold below...

Samberg ‘the comedian for the digital age’

A few years ago Andy Samberg gave up his unemployment checks to take a job writing a few gags for a television special, the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. He took a pay cut.

Still, it turned out to be a good career move. The assignment led to an audition at Saturday Night Live, a job on that show and growing fame for a series of short digital comedy films, some of which have been downloaded tens of millions of times. And now, in a scene right out of one of the popcorn movies that the awards celebrate, Samberg was back as the host of the ceremony. “It’s the American dream,” said reality-television maestro Mark Burnett, who produced the awards show for MTV. “Junior writer becomes host of the show he used to write for.”

Beyond the usual monologue, Samberg seasoned his host duties with new short films. “I’m a pretape Charlie,” he said. He recruited a mix of talent to accompany him in the films, from Will Ferrell to singer Taylor Swift to J.J. Abrams, who usually works on the other side of filmmaking (as a creator of ABC’s Lost and director of the new Star Trek movie.)

Samberg, who is 30, has something that MTV is most interested in: a sizable following among young viewers of much smaller screens, namely TV sets and computer monitors.

“I guess I reached some point where I got on the radar,” he said. “My name seems to come up on things on the Internet.”

It comes up with some frequency. Several of Samberg’s more than 60 digital shorts for SNL, produced with his writing partners, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer (the three form the comedy group the Lonely Island, which earlier this year released its first album, Incredibad), have become phenomena online. One, “I’m on a Boat,” featuring Samberg and rap artist T-Pain, has been viewed more than 25 million times on YouTube — and that isn’t even Samberg’s biggest hit.

Two of his other short films, with titles that can’t be printed here with impunity, one about trouser accidents (with Molly Sims), the other about unusual gift ideas (with Justin Timberlake), have racked up more than 48 million and 35 million views, respectively.

All of this made Samberg a desirable choice for an awards show intended to find new categories for nominations in movies that people actually wanted to see — rather than the ones usually honored for more ethereal qualities. The winners, based on fan votes online, come in some rather contrived-sounding categories, such as best fight, best kiss and best moment of cognitive dissonance. (That one also has a different formal title.)

That award I still don’t totally understand,” Samberg said. Van Toffler, the president of MTV, said Samberg had gotten the nod as host because he is “the comedian for the digital age.”

Even with all his Internet exposure, Samberg said he recognized that this assignment was a significant career opportunity. “Certainly after doing this, it will introduce me to a lot more people that didn’t otherwise know me — or maybe thought my name was Adam and not Andy,” Samberg said.


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