Just how many people will sit through a 79-minute Funny or Die clip?
Quips about a deceased person — particularly when said online — often garner a chorus of “TOO SOON!” from the Internet community, cringing and waving their holier-than-thou flag back at the source of the unscrupulous remark.
With the passing of Steve Jobs now a fading image in the news industry’s rear view mirror, the tech mogul’s forthcoming biopic starring Ashton Kutcher — simply titled “Jobs” — has already made waves in showbiz after debuting at Sundance this year.
It is the first Jobs biopic — or, was supposed to be, anyways.
Too soon to parody a movie that hasn’t even come out yet about a dead tech icon?
Not so! says the team at Funny or Die, who put together the site’s first effort at long form storytelling for the occasion.
“iSteve,” starring Justin Long as Jobs, offers a low budget, comedic take on his life and clocks in at 78 minutes and 55 seconds, a whopping chunk of time when compared to Funny or Die’s bread and butter clips that at times barely scrape past the five minute mark.
“We might not be the best, but we will be the first,” joked “iSteve” scribe and director Ryan Perez to the New York Times.
Of course, the Funny or Die fan base — who flock to clips like the three-and-a-half minute “Rachel Bilson’s Deleted Sex Scene” — would be hard pressed to shout “Too soon!” at “iSteve.”
So, what are they already saying?
“iSteve” — which was written in three days and shot in five — has its funny moments. But the stumbling block that Funny or Die must contend with since the pic’s midnight release is how its loyal audience relates with the website’s content.
Were “iSteve” to land a theatrical release as a quirky indie spoof, this brand of comedy would be welcomed by auds willing to shell out ten bucks or so and log 90 minutes in a movie theater chair. The issue that arises with the long-form’s debut on Funny or Die’s site, however, is that its viewers have grown accustomed to the fast, slapstick, in-your-face guffaws of the short clips.
“iSteve’s” more drawn out approach to comedy has strong merits and should not be discounted. But, the fact is, by the three-minute mark “iSteve” has landed a few smirks and chuckles where Will Ferrell’s short Funny or Die clip “The Landlord” had online auds crying from laughter in the same amount of time.
And while this could be chalked up to mere psychological reflexes on the part of viewers accustomed to certain pacing from Funny or Die, it’s still a relevant point to address given how consumers have different expectations of online platforms when it comes to their content.
Shortly put: in a noisy Internet space where viewers have a hard time watching a pithy two-minute YouTube clip to its completion, this kind of storytelling patience isn’t a luxury all content creators can afford.
Should Funny or Die continue its foray in long-form storytelling, the creative team will have two options: continue with a slow burn comedic tone and wait for auds to adjust, or front load louder jokes in the films to hook viewers that can easily be distracted by the site’s other shorter clips.
Either way, if you’re looking for a quick, hearty laugh that doesn’t require much investment of your time, “iSteve” will not be the place to find it. That is, unless you scroll down to the user comments, some of which are golden (and spelled in context):
Fernando Rodas writes, “you want me to watch 78:55 minute long clip?? you’re fucking out of ur mind, i ant got time for this shit”
And back to “The Landlord” he goes.