Before Hot Pepper Gaming, I was working full bore on a comic book about space paranoia and a bunch of kids lost in space. It featured illustrations by the talented Eddie Moreno and writing by myself. I sadly had to put it on the back burner after HPG took off, but If I ever get the chance I’d like to turn it into a 44 minute pilot script for the sake of having better writing samples. Anyway, enjoy the proposal!
In 2012 when I was unemployed and had to move back in with my parents and for some reason thought it’d be a good time in my life to shave my head, I wrote a weekly newsletter to some friends examining music culture and trying to relate it to universal, easy-to-understand themes. It was a pretty cool creative outlet, and looking back on it I’m sad to have let it fall to the wayside.
With that said, please enjoy this 1,200 word essay I wrote in defense of Juggalos.
Hey again everybody,
It’s that time of the week again where I take something about the music industry and dissect it to a very unfunny degree. This week I’m examining Objectivity vs. Subjectivity, using the Insane Clown Posse (the world’s most hated band) as a frame of reference. Stick with me when I say this, but if I do this right it will be one part of a set of three essays that culminate in a very scholarly examination of Chris Brown.
My older brother Tim and I have always been a fan of Japanese Batsu games, where comedians find funny and innovative ways to torture each other. When we started Scare to Care in 2011, Tim had been looking for a way to keep benefiting Camp Kesem, a charity he had been deeply involved with throughout college. After kicking around a couple ideas, we landed on the concept of a horror game livestream where one of us played through Amnesia: the Dark Descent while the other person tried to scare the player. This was Japanese Batsu Game as hell. It was dumb and hilarious and helpful at the same time, and we were proud of every dollar of the admittedly small $1,054 we raised over two days.
Since the first year, the event has evolved into more of a videogame marathon where we play horror videogames for 48 hours straight. This gave us the ability to bring on special guests and game studios to help spread the word about the charity. In our third year we worked with Polaris and some of their gaming talent, increasing our donations substantially.
This year we were able to pull in some amazing gamers and game companies thanks to the contacts we’ve made while working on Hot Pepper Gaming and our friendship with Polaris. We were joined by Markiplier, Game Grumps, Dodger, Geek and Sundry, Zombie Studios, Extra Credits, Max Schaefer and Dave Brevik (creators of the original Diablo) among many others as we journeyed deep into the abyss of horror games and sleep deprivation. After 48 hours of jump scares, sugar crashes, and more inside jokes than I can remember, we raised over $33,000 for Camp Kesem!
So, how has Scare to Care grown over the four years that we’ve been running it?
Year 1: $1,054
Year 2: $2,510
Year 3: $21,121
Year 4: $33,290
I’m extremely proud of this project and how much it’s grown every year. This is one of the things in my life that makes me feel like I’m making a difference, and I hope to do this until I’m old and gray and can barely hold a game controller.
I think at this point in my career I’ve clearly dedicated myself to doing as many dumb things as possible before I die. Hot Pepper Gaming started off as a joke tweet that quickly spiraled up into a now-sustainable YouTube channel where people try to review videogames and hot peppers at the same time.
We (myself, Erin Schmalfeld, and Jared Rosen) made the first three episodes with a borrowed camera and about $20 worth of butcher paper, peppers and milk. The initial idea was that we would bank a couple weeks’ worth of videos, hoping that one would would eventually get featured on a content aggregation site like Reddit and kickstart the channel through library viewership.
HPG was featured on Kotaku after the first episode, and we’ve been working hard to keep up with the growth since.
Since starting the channel in July 2013, we’ve been featured on Mashable, LaughingSquid, BoingBoing, and Destructoid and gotten to work with some amazing personalities and game companies like Andrew WK, Egoraptor, League of Legends, and Blizzard among many others.
I’m really proud of all the work we did to make the Hot Pepper Gaming brand clear and recognizeable, along with how we were able to create a brand integration-friendly format to run alongside our main show. Moving forward, I’m excited to expand this channel further with sweet merchandise and possibly even its own brand of hot sauce.
While I will take stake claim for yelling out “HEY WHAT IF WE DID A COSMOS ON WEED PARODY” in the Nacho Punch writer’s room, the real credit goes to editors Ed Vilderman and Dan Flesher, for doing such an amazing job with the special effects for this video.
Strangely enough, this video was featured in such reputable news establishments as Time, A.V. Club, and the Huffington Post among a bunch of other comedy blogs. HuffPo reached out to Neil deGrasse Tyson for comment, who had this to say:
“When science serves as a muse for artists and comedians,” Tyson told The Huffington Post in an email, “you know it’s trending in our culture.”
This is probably filed under “Things I Find Funny But Not Many Other People Do”. I submitted to Nacho Punch based off of a running gag my older brother had with his roommate. It unfortunately didn’t get featured anywhere prominent, but I’m proud of how it turned out.
I’m currently working full time in writing/comedy development for Maker Studios’ comedy brand, Nacho Punch. This concept was brought to me by my buddy Shamoozal and I worked with him to develop the script and and animation along with help from the rest of the NP team. This video was featured on BoingBoing, Mashable, io9, and Collider among many others.
As a channel development manager with Maker Studios, my job is to guide YouTubers to create shareable content with an eye toward’s channel growth. Being tasked with overseeing Maker’s animation vertical, a huge challenge was being able to keep up with viral events (you proably already know this, but animating is a slow process). Jaxamoto are a lovely husband and wife animation duo I’ve been working with, and when the Amy’s Baking Company fiasco broke on Reddit, Jaxxy and I sprang into action to work on something that would react to it.
This vid hit a million views over a matter of days, proving a couple of cool things:
- Quality of animation can suffer a bit as long as there’s still a strong comedic punch
- Animated videos will rank higher in searches than most other reactionary videos
This was eventually featured pretty heavily in the return episode!
A large part of my job revolves around identifying emergent internet trends and examining what precisely makes them viral successes. I had seen the original Harlem Shake videos popping up on Reddit, but this one made me realize that there was the potential to escalate the joke. I was able to convince a couple people at work (who happened to be top youtubers with large fanbases) that this was a good idea and they helped me put together an office-wide version of it:
While the videos preceding this set the rubric for the joke, I believe that our escalation of the joke sent the internet comedy community over the tipping point. We’ve since been parodied by CollegeHumor and the Chive and have been featured on CBS News, the Atlantic Wire, and the Huffington Post.
This was a really interesting experiment, especially since we’re now being credited with the mainstreamification of trap music and I was labelled as the evil corporate mastermind behind the internet craze.
I watched Aliens for the first time since I was a kid and one line really stuck out to me. Cut to me up at two in the morning after three beers looking up documentation on how to get Premiere Pro to accept DivX files.
And hey, let’s be honest. Aliens is a little ridiculous for a few reasons:
- If there’s one thing that survives into the future, it’s racist Mexican stereotypes from the 1980s.
- The entire movie takes place inside of a Laser Tag arena.
- Why are synthetics made of milk?
P.S. the answer is that you’re supposed to install a free DivX codec but that didn’t work so I ended up Handbraking the file into h.264 format.