Monday, November 26th, 2012

Jason Woliner's New Novelty Shirt Business is a Fiasco

Comedian Jason Woliner, the non-performing fourth member of Human Giant and a resident writer/director on Adult Swim's Eagleheart, attempted to get into the novelty T-shirt business last week, but so far, it's been a complete disaster. Woliner started his business, the Je Shirt Company, last Tuesday to market a "Che Leno" novelty shirt, a mash-up of Jay Leno and Che Guevara's faces. Customers were unable to recognize the face as being Jay Leno's and the shirt had to be redesigned, kicking off a series of mishaps and public Twitter meltdowns that continue to this day. Woliner has lost thousands of dollars on the shirt line in less than a week and as a result, crashed his car, which he is now attempting to sell for $18,000 on the Je Shirt store. Despite all of these obstacles and blunders, it looks like Jason Woliner is still pressing forward with his novelty T-shirt enterprise. These are clever designs for T-shirts that I think a lot of people would be interested in. It's just a shame they're not being sold by someone who has his act together.

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  • HardAsIs

    This is a shame. Woliner's a funny guy. It smacks to me of someone who had a great idea for a t-shirt and thought it would be super easy to get into the t-shirt business. Hopefully it stabilizes.

  • Andrew

    I can't tell if you don't know that this is a gag, or that you do know and *I* don't know that this post is playing along. I'M SO CONFUSED.

    • Andrew's Older Brother

      It's a comedy website. That should be your first clue.

  • Nate

    Definitely a marketing stunt, but I'll admit it started out seeming to be fairly plausible. However, the picture of the damaged storage area he posted shows up all over articles from back in April 2012, and was taken in Decatur, IL.

    I'd have a little more respect for the marketing stunt if the shirt itself wasn't so hideous (in both versions), or offered more than a mild chuckle.

    • Charlie Harper

      congrats, Nate! you win the dickhead award!

      • Nate

        Just so that I'm clear, calling bullshit on this stunt (as several other commenters did) isn't worthy of comment, but calling bullshit with evidence to back it up makes me a dickhead? When exactly did I sign up for the Jason Woliner Enterprises buzz marketing team?

        • Charlie Harper

          Have you considered that it might just be a joke and not a "stunt" or "hoax"? Jason Woliner has no history of public meltdowns, there's no record of him having a son, and I think it's highly unlikely that he ordered fifteen thousand of those ridiculous looking shirts (which was the first thing he announced on twitter, before the story got less and less plausible). So maybe it was a joke from the beginning? And he didn't set out to trick anyone? And you're just feeling burned because you took it at face value?

          • Nate

            Okay, if the t-shirts not only don't exist now, but also aren't created as "souvenirs" of this . . . whatever-it-is . . . then I'll absolutely accept that it was all just a piece of comedy rather than clumsy viral marketing. Whatever it turns out to be, though, I think that "stunt" or "hoax" (a word I hadn't actually used before this comment) would still be perfectly accurate descriptions, and I don't see how the point is to do anything but "trick" people into believing these events were actually happening. It's really only the reason for the trick that's in question.

          • Derek J

            Oh! So you only enjoy not-for-profit comedy then. You've never laughed at anything that had the potential to make money for the person who created it. That makes it a not funny stunt! No piece of comedy has ever had the potential to turn a profit. I see.

          • http://www.facebook.com/mark.longden Mark Longden

            This whole affair was not funny, or a particularly clever hoax (if it was every meant to be one). And I say this as a huge fan of Woliner's work.

  • emmaleesa

    Joke serious article about a joke performance art piece. Shit just got meta!

    • Nate

      Calling this "performance art" strikes me as analogous to when a shopping mall marketing department organizes a group sing and then calls it a "flash mob."

      • http://twitter.com/emmaleesharp emmaleesharp

        Performance art is probably not the right word but I'm 99% convinced that his motives are comedy/entertainment and not money which makes this very different to what your describing above.

  • Arby Darsh

    It's like a less funny, less plausible DadBoner. Okay, maybe DadBoner isn't plausible either. But I wish that it was.

  • nobody.you.know

    This is just lazily conceptualized and over-executed parody of commercialization and self promotion. More over the top 'theater of cruelty', quasi-performance art from people who benefit from having network insider friends and pick at the remains of the final throes of broadcast cable through the sloppiness that is unionized casting and hasty selection of television show ideas. Fantastically funny stuff for the people who made the concept, idea, website, and twitter feed and probably funny for next to no one else.

    Like the Tim Heidecker parody of podcasting before it, its a lazy 'what if…?' idea that was only executed out of the boredom, cruelty and financial resources of the cynical and awful people who want to outdo the weird of the "legendary" Andy Kaufman. We get it, people make tacky amateurish shit, capitalism is weird (if you really think about it), cynical surrealism is the new cool thing(because its irony beyond irony plus its wierd and tacky which isn't cool so its cool). It's all very smart, very clever, possibly original hipster bullshit, but its not really funny. You're fucking clever and weird and you are self aware, we get it already. The Village Voice loves you, you are culturally relevant!

    Its fine to try to make some money and come up with new concepts of comedy, new ways to tell jokes, new ways of exposing the truth and horrors of existence in a post-modern, post-ironic world ruled by corporate entities, widespread ignorance, and naivety. But this aging Gen X, in your face, "Do you get the joke? We get the joke. If you don't think it's funny you must not get the joke. We don't care about anything so fuck you." style of surrealist comedy that gets handed back and forth between Adult Swim, Comedy Central and the Internet is obnoxious. It got old fast, and its just cynical and mean to any audience it brings in, which is likely the very drunk and or high or very depressed and or lonely.

    But at least its more clever than celebrity impressions.

    • Derek J

      how's college going?

      • nobody.you.know

        Because I have an opinion at all about some shitty obscure abstract comedy bit I must be some naive early 20's something 'who's got it all figured out' because I'm in college? That's it, that's your takeaway, that's all that you gleamed from what I had to say or what you thought about afterwards and had to contribute with your informed ideas.

        Unless you really were asking me sincerely about my secondary education experiences, but no that isn't what is going on here at all. I bet you are employing some form of smug false sincerity, if only there were a better name for it. Assholism? No that's not a word… Cockdouchery? No, still not a word. Dickish sarcasm? Fuck, you are right, I should ponder the completion of my college experience and education and how to explain the circumstances of which to others. That way I can grow up to be big and smart like you Derek and also be able to successfully answer your sincere question.

        graduate school/
        ambitious career as a petty comedy writer/
        second divorce/
        being a failed professional/
        hating life/
        learning how to use a computer upon entering dementia
        going for you?

        Obviously you don't have to pick more than one, just the one(s) that imply best where you currently are in life. I'm not just making a shitty snarky remark either, please indulge me with the wisdom of your lifetime of brilliant experiences.

    • http://twitter.com/Fawknerd Fawknerd

      The virginity is strong with this comment.

      • nobody.you.know

        Because an succinct yet absolute overanalysis of an abstract comedy bit is strictly the result of not fucking, or it is that I have these thoughts that I must mean that not be currently nor ever had fucked? Shit, and all these years of cohabitation and intercourse with members of the opposite sex must be total fabrications of my imagination, you know, because of my thoughts and opinions on abstract comedy. Even if I had, since I have opinions I must be woefully young, ignorant, and out of shape as well because of a snide one-liner extrapolated from a Star Wars quote. This took time and effort on your behalf, to not only look at what I had read but then to think, "That guy is fucking wrong, he is so fucking wrong that I have to say something about it. But why say anything to explain myself, that guy is a fucking retard… wait that's it! Fucking, this guy isn't fucking! Yes! Push enter and… burn. Oh, an SNL bio article!"

        Well, I'm not even mad. I had my day in the arena of free thought and I was thoroughly defeated. Thus decreed that Fawknerd hath broken my will to think negatively of abstract bullshit lazy 'comedy'. He has put forth a sentence so strong that not even the mighty Zeus could shield himself from the vast and enormous yield of its magnificent light!

        No one can top, "The virginity is strong with this comment."

        If we think about it further, beyond just a shitty find and replace quote from a popular movie and break it down past the point where scrutiny makes sense anymore we can see that perhaps it is more. Perhaps I have built a rallying cry for those with virginity to be strong with, or even more Fawknerd might be referencing his own comment itself. Beaconing loudly that within his own comment that yes his very own comment has virginity strong within its very foundation. Perhaps it is not just virginity of fucking but the virginity of wit and knowledge as well he is trying to explain about himself. Instead of disagreeing with me the loudest by saying nothing he has instead conceded defeat by admitting he knows nothing and has never experienced the pleasures of human passion and decadence.

        I agree Fawknerd, the virginity is strong within your comment. Thank you for admitting that.

        • gsilas

          I think that the reaction your comment induced, that you have failed to grasp, is that no one cares what your opinion on this comedy is.

          You dislike the new wave of comedy, that's fine. A lot of people like it, as judged by the ratings and popularity of the performers you mentioned. A lot of people, perhaps ignorant imbeciles in your opinion, gain enjoyment from it. That's ok! It's ok to disagree on something that is subjective!

          When I was in college, I studied music. About half way through college, I would write overly analytical diatribes similar to the one you wrote, because young students tend to think that they can win an intellectual battle over art and that their opinion matters. I think this is where the "college comment" above was coming from. A large part of the music education I obtained was understanding that peoples relationship to art is subjective and varies depending on the person. None of that matters, all that matters is the enjoyment people receive. Why should I judge the lonely housewife who deifies Neil Diamond because her reason for enjoyment is not the same as mine?

          While it is important to look at culture with a critical eye and analysis is necessary and warranted, in the complex relationship between art (comedy in this instance), subjective viewer, and critic, the critic is BY FAR the least important participant.

          I would argue that the feedback loop of criticism should be directed only at the artist, not the viewers. The artist can, if they choose, use that criticism and analysis in a constructive manner to further their art. On the other hand, if the critical feedback loop affects the choices the subjective consumer makes, then the system becomes corrupted and future art suffers, because the natural selection of art to be consumed is not determined exclusively by the viewing population (exactly the same as consumers in a free market economy set the most efficient prices and select the superior goods). In other words, this blog is likely not the place for your criticism, as it is largely populated by consumers.

          • nobody.you.know

            No, I have grasped the concept of people not caring what I think about anything in particular very well and for a long enough time. I think I vented a of built up frustration, but was hoping that perhaps there was something about this new style that I was either not understanding or could perhaps appreciate differently through well reasoned rebuttal. Or maybe I get it entirely and just don't like it, or perhaps I don't understand at all.

            But I agree with your assessment, and my complaints will do nothing to change anything in the minds of the artists. At least, my complaints and observations posted here will do nothing to change what people do.

            I also agre that critical analysis by the critic is completely unimportant, or at least the least important participant. Speaking on terms of music, that is why places like Pitchfork, Vice, etc. are so unbearable, because they contribute nothing, judge all, and pretend they are kingmakers rather than equal footed enthusiasts. In Schumann's time he was largely hated by critics, and now he's routinely cited by piano players and music theorists as one of the most technically impressive composers ever. So I realize, maybe some things take time to be understood or appreciated. That doesn't mean instantly that the inverse is true; that things immediately praised are bad. But I don't feel that Dan Deacon will be payed much attention to in even 20 years from now. Shit, I'm going off track.

            Overall I agree with you and feel like you made a very poignant and valid critique of my critique. Largely in part because that is how I already feel even though I'm going on long winded about something I don't like. You wrote it more succinctly than I hove probably thought about it, but you make very good points. I really don't know why this was the thing that made me snappy or feel like I had to say something. It's not that important, nor will it likely change anybody's mind who disagrees with me, and even if it was a convincing argument it is not in the right place.

            Fair enough. Thank you for your feedback.

          • nobody.you.know

            To put it more succinctly, people really do not need or want my unsolicited opinions, thoughts and feelings and I'm okay with that.

          • Charlie Harper

            What do you enjoy? Genuinely curious. You seem pretty unpleasant to be around but – and I say this without malice – it seems probably even worse to be you than be around you. Sorry about that. It doesn't sound fun.

            So what kind of comedy do you like? Mainstream, network sitcoms? What do you find groundbreaking? Why are you reading/commenting on "Splitsider"?

          • nobody.you.know

            Seriously though, only because you asked, I present the following:

            Thank you for your… empathy? Sure, if its indeed genuine I'll call it empathy.

            This next bit may come off as a pity party diatribe, but its not, really its more of an acknowledgment of the plain truth. I readily accept that I may indeed be awful to be around, and my line up of necessary medications and physicians to keep me functional should be enough to vouch for your line about its probably worse to be me than be around me. Keeping my medical information private, I'll just leave it as I'm fucking crazy. I try to keep myself cognizant of my behaviors and interactions, but day to day I find myself absolutely flabbergasted at my own actions or prior rationale. This is possibly one of those scenarios. So be it, if you are sincere or are taunting me about how terrible you think I am. I'm assuming the latter.

            As far as comedy I like, its a long list but I'll try to keep to highlights. Not a big fan of network sitcoms, nor have I ever been really. After a lot of persistence by friends of mine I gave in and watched Community and I thoroughly enjoyed it. By far the most offensively terrible comedies on television at all right now, in my opinion, are mainstream network derived. Shows like Whitney, The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men are probably among the most intellectually offensive schlock on TV I have seen in recent memory.

            I grew up watching things like SNL(new and reruns), HBO comedy specials, and Mr. Show when it was brand new, just before I became a teenager. The first live comedy show I ever went to was George Carlin's when I was 16. I liked a lot of the 'Alternative' comedians, you a lot of the types featured in places like Mr. Show, Comedians of Comedy,Comedy Death Ray, etc. seeing a lot of the comics that weren't as well known or featured in much of anything before 2002. I remember the Neil Hamburger routine being done before it ever had been an Adult Swim thing. On the more innocent side of things I was a big fan of Sifl and Olly as well as Home Movies. Wondershowzen was probably one the funniest things I had seen up until that time when they started making that show. I remember enjoying a lot of the Adult Swim lineup or at least giving things I wouldn't otherwise a chance because I would recognize voices of comedians I liked and sometimes they would say such odd things or create such strange situations that you just have to laugh at it. That's not a comprehensive list of my comedic tastes but it should give you a basic idea if what I like is anything similar to what you like in comedy.

            I like comedy that is pervasive, uses non-sequitur effectively, and espouses, exposes or challenges my world view in a creative way; and while I might roll my eyes at a fart or poop joke, for some reason an equally stupid gag involving gratuitous vomiting will make me laugh most of the time. As far as groundbreaking, right now anymore I don't even know, I'm scouring for something new and interesting on the internet all the time, but the best stuff people seem to have are just parodies and other derivatives of current or once popular entertainment.

            The between 2007-2008, the janky, tacky on purpose, theater of cruelty, stuckism stuff became more prevalent and extreme. Despite all the love and praise from people whose opinons I respected I just never understood what they found funny about the shit Tim&Eric did. Basically a giant middle finger to the viewing audience and those who funded the venture in the first place surrounded by epilepsy inducing graphics as every bit they did. "Rampant consumerism has turned America into an insane toxic wasteland" we fucking get it already, do something else. I'm just peeved at this purposeful tackiness being the most pervasive thing that popular comedy writers are coming up with.

            But I do like a lot of the articles featured on Splitsider often its insightful, occasionally nostalgic and sometimes it leads me to enjoying new things. I have no idea why I am commenting here, I usually never comment anywhere as I see it typically futile and a waste of time. I been on a kick, commenting in various places for about the past two weeks, seeing if anything I opine merits discussion or response in places where I think interesting discussion could be had because a lot of the people I usually discuss these things with aren't around anymore. If anything I can gleam better perspective to the things I think about, see if things I think are in fact dumb, and if nothing else, just to get some of these ideas down so I can stop just one more discussion from the persistent chamber of convoluted idea repetition in my mind. I'm sure that to those that are uninitiated with me personally that I may come off as sanctimonious, abrasive, petty, excessive and just an outright asshole. For that I apologize, but there is an extent to how I function and process things that is beyond my control, but I'm working on it.

            This bunnytrail has gotten way off topic from what I was trying to discuss about or better understand from this article though.

            Thank you for your insight.

            What is your comedy preference and what do you find groundbreaking? What do you get out of reading and commenting on the internet?

          • nobody.you.know

            As an addendum I would like to note that my perspective might be purely derived from solipsism and thus completely erroneous.

          • cea4412stone

            Brother, you need to relax or get laid or drunk or something. The fact that you go into long-winded diatribes which exposes your lack of levelness is fact of this. Just calm down.
            But no doubt you'll respond with 3- 4 paragraphs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.longden Mark Longden

    It's just not a funny bit, or particularly clever. That's really all it boils down to. If (as I half-suspect) it was a real business idea which failed miserably, and he decided to turn it into a comedy bit, then it fails at every level it attempts.

    Also, if this exact same thing was done by me, and not by a guy who's made TV shows and has a ton of big-name friends to help him with the bit, not a single person would give a fuck, and anyone who did happen across jeshirts.com would just think it was an awful idea and move on.

  • adam

    Childish vs. Long winded intellectual is always a funny bit. The joke is to keep you reading the response.