Funny Or Die, born in 2007 as a repository of funny online videos with celebrity cache, has never been afraid of diversifying, leading to a history filled with successes (HBO’s Funny Or Die Presents) and less-than-successes (rest in peace, Shred Or Die).
It’s too early to say what category The Occasional, Funny Or Die’s new experiment in iPad publishing, will fall. But having sampled the first two issues (March/April and May/June), I feel comfortable saying that there are no shortage of reasons for checking it out. There are, in fact, 10 reasons, as follows:
1. It’s pretty darn funny.
2. Well, not universally funny; some pieces are more entertaining than others. But if that over-long spam email farce in Issue 1 isn’t your cup of tea, it only takes a few flicks of the wrist before you’re listening to Marc Maron make animal noises.
3. Because, while technically limited in terms of available video content, each piece does include some unique multimedia component.
4. Which is a good thing. The Occasional‘s charm is in its use of interactive elements, from sound files to full-on games. Even the act of navigating through each issue’s content is enjoyable, encouraged as you are to swipe through and explore.
5. Probably the best example of this: The Occasional‘s take on the classic game of “F—, Marry, Kill.” (Though, to be fair, I am a sucker for Roman Polanski jokes.)
6. Do you like Parks and Recreation? So does The Occasional. The second issue features two of the show’s writers (Chelsea Peretti and Harris Wittels), as well as an interview with star Nick Offerman that combines audio and photos for surreal effect.
7. In general, if you’re a fan of the online alt-comedy scene, currently powered by podcasts and digital sketches, The Occasional delivers. While known stars like Zach Galifianakis and Thomas Lennon lend their names to the project, much of its funny comes from emerging or lesser known talents — Julie Klausner‘s interviews and Kumail Nanjiani‘s column on life lessons learned from movies are standouts so far.
8. Because The Occasional is for sale, it’s pretty much commercial-free. The only exception is that of a Charlie Sheen-starring advertisement for Fiat in Issue 1.
9. Instead, the letter to the editor in issue 2 contains a delightful Oregon Trail reference.
10. Price-wise, $3.99 for a single issue feels like a bit much — but a year’s subscription, at $9.99, is much more manageable.
Funny Or Die isn’t the only company experimenting with the publishing capabilities of the iPad, but it’s the only high-level brand having this much fun with it. And it has an advantage other publications like The Daily don’t — a clearly defined voice and a pre-established audience.