In September, a video was bouncing around the Phoenix offices. Some lunatic named Phil Davison was running for treasurer of Stark County, Ohio (on the Republican ticket, natch). In his campaign speech, Davison came across as a more haunted iteration of that Chris Farley character that lives in a van down by the river. By the end of the video, Davison is sweating mightily, yelling about his advanced degree in communications, and scaring the bejeezus out of anyone watching him.
As my coworkers were cracking up, I swelled with purpose. Only 300 people had seen the crazy look in Davison's eyes, but I knew he had the potential to blow up. I emailed a tip to my favorite website, Videogum.com. Within the hour, Davison's clammy face was staring out from the main page. By the end of the day, dozens of other websites had reposted the video, and the Huffington Post had interviewed Davison about his newfound Internet fame. That weekend, ABC News did the same.
If this sounds like bragging, it's because it is. Three months later, I'm still excited to have landed a tip on Videogum. Of all the zillions of websites in this world, it is, perhaps, the most inspiring. Blogger Gabriel Delahaye – known on the site simply as Gabe – presents a video or news item, usually to make fun of it. Sometimes he writes fan fiction involving celebrities; at others times, he watches bad movies and mocks them. Delahaye offers a frequently crotchety, uniformly hilarious antidote to all the crap thrust at an internet user in a typical day.
The site has an ever-increasing number of dedicated readers and commenters. This year, Videogum won shoutouts on network television and in print – it even debuted the first Superchunk video in nine years. I checked in with Delahaye (over email, of course) to offer congrats and to see how it feels to be caught up in the whirlwind.
Was 2010 the Year of Videogum?
Wow. I'm not sure if 2010 was the Year of Videogum, but that would be great if that is true. At the very least, it did seem like 2010 was the first time that people started (sometimes, not all the time) referring to Videogum just as Videogum, rather than as "Videogum.com" or "a blog called Videogum," or or whatever. Like, as if by just saying Videogum people would know what that meant? Maybe it has a little more name-recognition than it used to? I do not know.
On a related note, can you please explain how I sent in that video of Phil Davison that was being passed around my office, and then it went on your site, and then he wound up on ABC news? How often does this sort of thing happen? Would that make Videogum a casting couch for crazy people who put videos of themselves on the internet? How do you feel about that?
There are a few sites that all basically feed off of each other (BuzzFeed, The Daily What, The High Definite, GorillaMask) in terms of viral videos, so if a video is good and ends up on any of those sites (or on Videogum) then it will populate out to the rest of them, and from there it will get picked up by other sites and other sites and other sites until your mom emails you a link to it six months later. I'm not sure that Videogum is any better at making videos "viral" than these other sites, but I've definitely seen it happen a number of times if we get the video first (or, at least, first-ish). We certainly play a part in that process. I wish I could take more credit for it, but it's really a pretty organic chain on which Videogum is just one link. Just kidding. We are entirely responsible for everything that is popular, always, and I feel great about it. Just kidding again.