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Summary:

Web creator Scott Gairdner is a genius, and Funny or Die was a genius to hire him to produce things like The 1982 Tron Holiday Special, a super-nerdy spoof that’s topical two ways and racking up views despite its lack of star power.

tron holiday special

Funny or Die has made a lot of smart moves over the past few years — strengthening its relationships with an eclectic range of talent, branching out into other platforms. But the move that may pay off best, at least on a creative level, is bringing on Scott Gairdner this fall as its in-house creator/director.

Gairdner, who’s been one of my favorite online comedy machines for quite some time, has used Funny or Die’s resources and access to talent to create a whole new level of hilarity. Take yesterday’s topical-on-two-levels short: The 1982 Tron Holiday Special.

The cast includes “king of confetti” Rip Taylor as well as online sketch stars Team Tiger Awesome‘s Clint Gage and Nick Mundy (who, fun fact, stood in for Rip Taylor before they confirmed Taylor himself as a cast member), some totally faithful-to-the-original-Tron special effects and plenty of Christmas spirit.

The most hilarious aspect of the Tron Christmas Special, for the non-nerds who need it explained to them, is its choice of subject matter to spoof: Specifically, the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, which is infamous for how freaking terrible it is — so terrible, in fact, that George Lucas wishes he could personally destroy every copy of it. While no authorized editions of that special exist on any medium, efforts to keep it from being unseen have failed — for decades, the Star Wars Holiday Special has survived on bootleg tapes, and is now freely available on YouTube.

Seriously, guys, it’s so bad that it’s not even fun, especially after the first fifteen minutes or so, where the only spoken dialogue is in Wookie. But even watching a little bit will confirm for non-believers just how well Gairdner imitated it.

And while the cross-section of people to whom this might appeal might seem small, after a day or so online, Tron Holiday Special has received over 90,000 views, which isn’t bad when you consider Funny or Die is a destination site and the short didn’t have much star power to drive traffic. Instead, it’s just a clever, original and well-produced spoof — proving that you don’t need necessarily need Will Ferrell or Zach Galifianakis to launch your content if you have a funny idea.

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  1. Except that funny or die is Will Ferrel’s site. So they did need Will Ferrell to launch their content.

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