Eugene Mirman started creating original Web content back when most of us were still using dial-up. As the online world has grown, so has the comedian's career. Between stand-up performances, film, and TV gigs (he plays the bad guy on Delocated on Adult Swim—season 2 debuts August 22—and one of the voices on Fox's 2011 animated comedy Bob's Burgers), Mirman took some time to tell us about his lasting love affair with Web video.
Fast Company: You post original videos to a channel on your Web site called Eug-Tube. When did you start creating online content?
Eugene Mirman: Mostly, I put new stuff on YouTube, to be honest. I'm glad I'm being honest. I've been doing this since 1998 or 1999. I was working at a Web marketing company at the time—don't worry, it sort of went out of business—and the guy I shared an office with was a designer, and he suggested making a Web site for me. It was one of the few things I could do to get exposure. You can't be on TV just by standing in a production studio. But you can be on the Internet. I'll generally put them on my site and then link through all my various social networking. It depends, once every few weeks.
FC: How valuable was the Web in creating your fan base?
EM: The Web was crucial. In the sense that, even when I had done a small amount of TV, more people recognized me from the Internet. People would know who I was. Not lots of people—let's not get carried away—but handfuls of people would come to shows because they saw my videos.
FC: You've created videos for Huffington Post and late last year, you reported from Copenhagen for Grist.org, so your online empire seems to be expanding.
EM: The great thing is, the Web can both provide an outlet and its own work. There are only a handful of places that might send somebody to Copenhagen to do silly reporting, and the fact that the one that decided to do it was actually a very reputable environmental organization shows the power and reach. But, that didn't stop them from sending three real reporters.
FC: Where do you think the space is heading, and how is it changing the entertainment landscape?
EM: It's letting people make themselves more famous. And then, aside from that, it's a way to make money. Forty years ago you had to get on one of three networks. Ten years ago, realistically for comics, it opened up to maybe 10. Now there are endless companies and endless opportunities. If you can think of it, you can do it. It's like the ultimate extension of the American dream, which is probably why I so adore it.
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A version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.