Six months ago, I didn’t know what Vine was. I mean, I knew in the way that I know what brain surgery is. I knew it existed, but I didn’t know the first thing about making or even critiquing one. So being the man I am — a sniveling victim of fear and cowardice — I steered clear of reviewing them in this column. Then, this past December, while home for the holidays, I was inspired to watch some Vines. And by “inspired,” I mean I got sucked in by YouTube click bait, the legion of ass and boob screenshots that serve as cover art for what seems like hundreds of “Best of 2013” Vine compilations. Lots were terrible, but a few were really brilliant. No-frills, original, and instantly funny. So when my pal Matt Visconage recommended I take a look at Bill Stiteler’s work, I was primed. It may be the first time in the history of the Internet that looking at digital boobs has (albeit indirectly) led to something so wonderful.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background in comedy and Vines specifically?
Well, basically three years ago I dropped out of college and moved to New York to pursue comedy full time. So I’ve just been doing stand up at open mics and shows and just kind of slogging away. And I saw this comic Jake Young put one out and use the app and then I saw this other comic, Ben Kronberg do it too. Ben made a vine that was actually funny and I was like, “Oh my gosh, you can actually be funny with this?” So I just hoped on board and tried to figure it out.
And when was that?
I think late March.
So not even that long.
Where did you go to school?
Community College of Allegany County. Then I went to a school called Humber. I bounced around because I knew I wanted to do comedy and I just didn’t have the balls to just stop and go do it.
I’m glad you have the balls now. What’s your day job?
I am an office assistant for a company that lights television shows. They light things, from the Olympics to CNN to I think they used to light Maury.
What trends do you see in the Vine space? Where do you see it going?
99.9% of Vine is the worst comedy content you will see anywhere. It is truly terrible. It’s atrociously bad. But it’s like tweens and teens using it. They don’t know that these race jokes and stuff are hack or so overdone. They don’t know. That’s why a lot of bad stuff is working. I got in early; I was creating weird stuff early and that seemed to get attention. Again though, Vine is terrible. Don’t watch it. I can give you five names and that’s all you need to watch. Connor O’Malley, Avery Monson, Simply Silvio, Marlo Meekin, Red 6, and one more I’ll say is Tony Zaret. The rest is garbage town baby.
Is there any upside to Vine in your opinion? Why would I devote time to Vine instead of Twitter?
Well, for instance: I’m terrible at text; I’m still not a writer. You see the person’s face in Vine; you’re more connected to them than just reading tweets in your head. So what it does for me is it brings people out to shows. If you tweet out a show, you’re less likely to go to that show whereas in Vine you get to know the person a little bit. And the response has been people coming out to my shows and that’s been crazy. I’ve been pinching myself.
How did you get this huge following? Were you promoting yourself on Vine? Were you promoting yourself on other social networking channels or did it just organically happen?
I got in early and was actually creating quality content. I started in March and in May and June things started happening. People started re-vining me, like big accounts and then I would get more followers. That helped me out a lot. I never collaborated really with anybody, its just people being nice and helping me out.
What’s next for you in the Vine space or any other space?
Well luckily Vine has helped build up a nice little following so I wanna do a stand up tour in the spring and then I’d like to do a little bit of a break and go more towards YouTube and do longer stuff.
We’re starting to see Vine stars like Logan Paul get scooped up for longer form TV and digital stuff. Do you think a really funny six-second video equates to quality content in other, longer forms?
I think its creating Internet stars. I think the industry is less interested in Vine. I haven’t once been approached about anything having to do with my Vines, but the people that are interested are like marketers. Advertisers.
Yeah, but do you think there’s a world in which you use it as a form of currency when talking to industry folks and say, “Hey, people like my shit, they like my mind and the things that are coming out of it.”
I do, but I’m so green I don’t even know where to begin with that.
They might start coming.
That’s what I’m kind of hoping for.
What’s your Vine creative process like?
It’s totally all pre-meditated and pre-thought out. 90% of them have been born out of me walking down the street and thinking of an idea. Because it’s only six seconds you can just beat it out so easily. It’s simple in that sense. That said, it’s hard to get across an idea in six seconds and get it interesting and conveying what you want and feeling creatively good about it.
I think that’s a really valuable skillset. One of the biggest problems with comedy is that people take too long to get to the fucking point.
100% agree with you. It has been an unbelievable sense of bare bones “What is this idea?” It’s gotta be so simple and out there and it’s been really interesting to execute in that short amount of time. I wonder how that mentality will affect me when I start to branch off and make longer form video. It’s gonna be weird when it happens.
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And here, for the first time, are 4 reasons you need to watch. Mostly because I couldn’t choose just 3 of Bill’s mini masterpieces.
4. Pop culture
It’s 6 seconds. Don’t overthink it.
French Stewart eyes:
Reach fans fast with a semi-obscure cultural reference that everyone instantly recognizes and loves.
On Vine, it’s still funny to ridicule Italian Americans apropos of nothing. Isn’t that the greatest gift of all? (I can say it, my mom’s from Brooklyn.)
Get a new poster David!: https://vine.co/v/hlWrqh1YPeB
Anyone who’s been to college in the aughts has a friend like David. Just like in web series, relatability is key.