Atom.com’s rebranding as a comedy destination paid off big time this week with the release of Oprah is Dead, which chronicles the terrifying future that awaits us after Oprah Winfrey leaves us for the great beyond. Chaos, anarchy, and a Thriller homage ensue.
The short is the sick brainchild of Team Tiger Awesome, a Los Angeles comedy group whose first big breakout success was the Channel 101 NY series 28 Day Slater (a must-watch for anyone who grew up on Saved by the Bell reruns), and went on to produce comedy stunts for ABC TV, AniBoom, Super Deluxe and other media consortiums.
Despite that pedigree, though, they had a hard time getting funding for Oprah is Dead: “We pitched it around town,” Nick Mundy of TTA said via chat, “and people liked it, but were kinda uneasy about it…you know, with good reason.” Believing that the short would only be funny if they had the budget to support some of the more insane elements, though, they kept pushing — finally getting the interest of Ian Friedman at Atom. “We pitched to Ian and he liked it, and the higher-ups liked it and they felt we could pull it off. It was crazy how much they loved the f—ed-up-ed-ness of the whole thing.”
At last check, Oprah is Dead had racked up over 23,000 hits, and it’s only been online for two days. Given that the all-time most popular videos on the site max out at approximately a million views, this a real success. And it speaks well of a site devoted to comedy that they heard a pitch, said “this sounds insane” — and funded it anyway.