Funny or Die plays debate for laffs

Mock GOP debate features Larry King as moderator

Funny or Die is debuting its most elaborate election-season video so far in 2012 on Friday, a mock debate between GOP presidential contenders with the real Larry King as moderator that will be showcased exclusively on Yahoo News.

The 16-minute debate — “Yahoo! News Funny or Die GOP Presidential Online Internet Cyber Debate” — reflects the popularity of political satire on the site. It launched a microsite, Live Funny or Die, devoted exclusively to political satire.

In the last cycle, its most popular political video was “Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad,” in which the tabloid celebrity responded to the McCain campaign’s spot that linked Barack Obama to the frivolity of the socialite. The Funny or Die video drew more than 10 million views.

“There’s obviously an appetite for this type of comedy,” said Dick Glover, the CEO of Funny or Die. “We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do something a little bit longer and a bit more involved and complex than a two- or three-minute video?’?”

The site completed production on the debate on Wednesday, enough time to reflect the results of the Iowa caucus.

The debate stars Horatio Sanz as Newt Gingrich, John C. McGinley as Rick Santorum, Greg Germann as Jon Huntsman, Patrick Warburton as Rick Perry, Leslie Jordan as Ron Paul, Erin Gibson as Michele Bachmnann, Bryan Safi as Marcus Bachmann, Reggie Brown as Obama and, reprising his role from a previous video, Mike Tyson as Herman Cain.

The real debates have inspired no shortage of humor, and Glover admits that “there are times when things come out (on the campaign trail) that our writers couldn’t come up with.”

“The only hope from our perspective is that the candidates who are less politically correct and less self-censoring can hang in there as long as possible,” he said.

Yahoo has expanded its election presence for 2012 but also is building up a humor channel. Yahoo’s Comedy Channel also is launching live, uninterrupted standup, “CrazyStupidPolitics: Bill Maher Live From Silicon Valley.”

Robertson Barrett, VP of Yahoo! News and Finance, said in a statement that Yahoo was “kicking off primary season and fulfilling Donald Trump’s unrealized vision by giving America the GOP debate it’s always wanted.”

Funny or Die launched in April, 2007 and has grown to 12 million unique users per month. It was founded by Gary Sanchez Prods., including Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, as well as Sequoia and CAA. Judd Apatow also is a principal partner in the company.

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