Online Satirists Seek Help From Fans

ByABC News

June 17, 2005 &#151 -- In this week's "Cybershake," we look at what the Internet's most popular pair of satirical artists plan to do to further their humorous work. Plus, we note some high-tech gadgets geeky dads might appreciate this Father's Day.

Evan and Gregg Spiridellis aren't likely to be on the top of your list of "famous Hollywood entertainment producers." But it's more than likely you know their creative works.

Brothers Spiridellis are the founders of JibJab Internet Media and the creative minds behind last year's hit online animation, "This Land." The parody of the U.S. presidential election campaign, preformed to the tune of "This Land Is Your Land," was seen millions of times over the Internet -- and on television when news networks caught wind of it last year.

JibJab's success in lampooning both President Bush (the "Texas tiger") and Senator John Kerry (an "intellectual" and "liberal wiener") brought on other satires that were widely shared online.

The follow-up to "This Land," spoofed Bush's election victory with "Second Term," where an online caricature of Bush sang, "Yes, I'm coming back to serve a second term," to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain."

Gregg Spiridellis says JibJab's cartoons are hits because the brothers noticed -- and capitalized on -- the silliness of actual American political discourse last year.

"The humor in 'This Land' probably came from the absurdity of the dialogue in the election," says Gregg. "It was something we both responded to and kind of decided that was what we were going to do -- and to stick a finger in the eye of the political system."

And both Spiridellises are quick to note that they wouldn't be as successful today if their faithful core audience -- a mere 160,000 viewers when JibJab started five years ago -- didn't help spread the word of their hillarious work.

"The power of 160,000 people turning our work into 80 million [page] views, really opened our eyes to how powerful our audience can be," says Gregg.

So the next step for JibJab seemed like a logical one. The Spiridellises are building a new Web site that actually asks online surfers for their help.

In creating their cartoons, Even and Gregg use software to animate actual photos of people and objects. And just as in a real movie studio film endeavor, getting all those pieces together can require extra hands.

"So you'll be able to upload your photo and try out for a role in our next cartoon," says Gregg. Or, "You'll be able to help us if we need a picture of something -- like a vase of flowers -- you can take a picture and upload it and if we use your picture, you'll get credit in the movie."

As the Spiridellises sees it, the move for audience participation will enrich the future of online entertainment.

"We really want to provide our audience with a way of getting more involved in what we're doing -- not so much just sending them what the finished product and saying, 'Hey, do you like it?' but 'Hey come on over to JibJab and help shape our production,'" says Gregg. "The power is there and the technology is there and it's going to make it a better experience and help us make a better product."

The new JibJab site won't be ready until sometime this summer. So fans and wannabe stars will have to keep checking in at JibJab's Web site, www.JibJab.com, for more information.

-- Karen Chase, ABC News

It's almost Father's Day and the editors at Mobile magazine have come up with a list of items that could be great gifts to give tech-savvy dads this year.

Chris Null, editor in chief of Mobile, says Key Pix would be a nice gift for today's proud digital dads who have scores of digital images of home, hearth, kids and grandkids.

The $45 keychain-sized device "has a one inch screen on it that lets you see your digital photos," says Null. It's handy for when papa wants to show off his most cherished treasures at any social function where computers or digital camera displays aren't readily available.

Of course, you could always spring for a new portable PC if your pop is really that digitally dependent. If he's been a really great dad, says Null, you might want to consider the $3,000 Qosimo laptop from Toshiba. It has all the features of most laptop PCs, including a gorgeous 17-in color screen. More importantly, it comes with a built-in TV tuner so dad doesn't miss his favorite shows while away from the living room set.

For hard-working fathers who just want some peace and quite, Null suggests a pair of noise-canceling earplugs from Shure.

"They make a great seal with the inner ear and does a really good job of blocking out noise," says Null. Prices for the hush headphone range from $100 to $180.

And for dads that just need to "get away from it all," Null suggests the new Navman W300 GPS receiver might be the ticket. The small $180 handheld unit can help guide Dad to any location on earth using Global Positioning System satellites. It's a pedometer that tracks how far he's walked and how many calories he's burned during his walkabout.

-- Andrew Colton, ABC News

Cybershake is produced for ABC News Radio by Andrea J. Smith.

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