What Julian Smith hates (and loves) about Facebook: social media parody as self-promotion
IN COMEDY STUDIES, SPECIAL ISSUE ON “LAUGHTER IN THE DIGITAL AGE.” PETER C. KUNZE, ED. FALL 2015. READ THE ARTICLE HERE
Through a case study of Julian Smith, this essay investigates what makes YouTube comedians/entrepreneurs successful. In order to understand the channel juliansmith87 and its connections to social media platforms, I adopt two strategies: focusing on a specific video from the channel called 25 Things I Hate About Facebook; and discussing the channel on a macro-level, looking at it from inception to current state. While 25 Things has not achieved the success of other videos by Smith, it created a formula characterized by a self-reflexive approach to digital media and a high production value. Why are so many users following Smith’s work? How did these videos go viral? How did he manage to beat the competition of other users aiming to reach the same visibility? How does he take advantage of our current digital environment and convergence culture? Generally presented in a three to five minute format, Smith’s videos are professionally produced with updated digital cameras and editing software and then shared online via media marketing strategies. Smith proves that YouTube is both a site for personal use (summarized by its tagline “Broadcast Yourself”) and a platform for the shared artistic visions of comedy entrepreneurs. The study concludes with an initial map of some comedy content creators that possess characteristics similar to those of juliansmith87, evaluating their role in the modernization of digital humor.
Keywords: Julian Smith, YouTube, Facebook, Humor, Performance
NOTE: The paper has been presented at the Humor in the Digital Age Session at South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference.