Seattle humor network, built with funny cat pictures, becomes a reality TV show

Nov 7, 2012, 5:24 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2012, 5:29 am
The Seattle-based I Can Has Cheezburger network now includes 60 humor sites. Many of their 90 employees are featured in a new Bravo TV reality series about the Queen Anne company. (Photo courtesy Bravo TV)
(Photo courtesy Bravo TV)

A small Internet empire with a funny name has billions of page views on its network of 60 humor websites based in Seattle. Now, I Can Has Cheezburger has a reality TV show too.

They’ve had some huge successes getting things to go viral on the Internet.

“We do apologize to the world that we released Rebecca Black out into the Internet culture,” says Emily Huh. “You either loved it or you hated it.”

The “Friday” song first appeared on The Daily What, which is one of the humor sites Emily and Ben Huh own.

They’re also the people who put funny captions with cute pictures of cats.

LOL Cats, as in L-O-L, laugh out loud, has become an industry of its own with two New York Times best sellers based on their funny animal pictures and captions.

The Bravo TV network wanted to make a reality TV series out of what they do at their offices at the bottom of Queen Anne Hill

“When they first approached us, Ben and I had both said, ‘we’re not really funny. We look at the internet all day how funny can this show be?'”

They let the cameras in to film a series of episodes for LOL Work, capturing what they consider to be ordinary discussions, like this:

“Just as a general blanket rule, no dead cat ever?”

“Yes.”

“People don’t come here to see dead cats. They want to see happy, smiling pets.”

“People come here to escape reality.”

“Okay, devil’s advocate, what if it’s a dead cat and we say it’s sleeping, is that okay?”

“I don’t ever want to hear you say devil’s advocate again.”

On the surface, I Can Has Cheezburger is a company dedicated to making people laugh for 5 minutes a day, that’s their motto.

But the more interesting part of Cheezburger is that they’re in the center of a shifting media landscape. Instead of being a traditional company where they create content and put it out there telling you what’s funny. Their content is generated by users.

“Once Internet culture becomes dominant it will be popular culture, just as the underground music movement of rock and roll became popular culture,” says Ben Huh. “The remixing and the do it yourself culture is fundamentally changing our ability to influence others.”

For dealing with humor sites, Ben is a serious business man. He’s allergic to cats by the way.

Although he’s had his share of viral successes, that’s not what he’s going for. And if you have any kind of business where you’re trying to get hits online, here’s his advice.

“What you really want to do is deliver consistent, quality content every time somebody visits,” Huh says. “You want to make it a daily habit and the only way to actually grow your traffic and your audience is to get new people to show up and get some of them to stay.”

Other sites in the Cheezburger network include the Fail Blog, Know Your Meme, and Texts From Last Night.

By LINDA THOMAS, Yes, Ben and Emily are married

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Seattle humor network, built with funny cat pictures, becomes a reality TV show