Funny Or Die is ten years old this week. The comedy site's launch a decade ago almost didn't happen. Wired has compiled a definitive oral history of the site, right up through its most recent reset as Trump ascended to the Presidency.
Several comedy sites like Icebox came and went after chewing through VC in the dot-com bubble, so most creators were gun-shy until Channel 101 and sketch groups like The Lonely Island tried stripped-down productions mainly just for kicks.
ADAM McKAY (cofounder)
We were just like, "Whatever." We remembered the first dotcom crash from the early 2000s, and we were superdubious.
WILL FERRELL (cofounder)
We'd seen a number of comedy websites that had failed, and we really weren't convinced that the internet could be a destination for short-form comedy.
MICHAEL YANOVER [CAA agent]
It was stalled out until one seminal meeting when Will and Adam were barricaded in a room, writing the script for Step Brothers.
MARK KVAMME [Sequoia Capital]
When the writers are writing a movie, they go off and hole themselves up in some crazy place for weeks on end, so they can finish the script. And they were in the middle of writing, so we all piled into their room in this old, junky hotel.
Eventually, the financiers needed an answer, and we ultimately felt like we had nothing to lose. In hindsight, I guess we didn't give ourselves enough credit for being able to create interesting and lasting material.
I did kind of miss doing sketches the way we used to do at SNL. Our manager Jimmy Miller was the guy who pushed us: "If you treat it as pure fun, this could be really cool for you guys." And we liked the idea that anyone could put sketches up, that it was just an open door. If there's a funny sketch, we'll put it on the front page.
Bonus video: The Landlord: Criterion Edition
• Funny Or Die at 10: An oral history (Wired)