After making a name for himself at his badass college newspaper, Streeter Seidell joined the crew at CollegeHumor.com in 2005 to help write the site’s first book, The CollegeHumor Guide to College. Since then, he has co-starred on MTV’s Pranked, forced CollegeHumor interns to belt out karaoke during Intern Appreciate Night, and embarrassed a coworker in front of 18,000 people. But more on that later.
Seidell was named editor in chief of CollegeHumor just two weeks ago, so he’s still shaping his responsibilities. He begins our chat with an apology: “Sorry if you can’t understand me, but I’m eating a Twix,” he explains. “I admit that I sometimes take part in a little midday candy.” See also: cheeseburger enthusiast.
Title: Editor in Chief, CollegeHumor.com
Graduated from: Fordham University, degree in communications
Previous jobs: Intern at The Gersh Agency; restaurant waiter; landscaper
A landscaper? I never mowed lawns as a kid, and I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on. There’s something really satisfying about looking at how straight you made the lines.
Job description in one sentence: I’m responsible for the overall tone of content, including videos, articles, and photos.
How you got the job: In college, I wrote for the badass student-run paper – you know, the paper that said f*ck. I stumbled upon CollegeHumor.com and emailed some of my clips to [editor and co-founder] Ricky Van Veen. He put my work up on the site, and I started working for CollegeHumor the day after graduation.
How you moved up the ranks: Early on, I had a theory that proved correct: If I aggressively sought crappy work, I’d be indispensable. I noticed that Ricky was doing tons of manual labor, like sorting through links and pictures, so I relieved him of those duties while still writing.
You acted in skits, too? We started making videos at CollegeHumor before anyone else did, which was a real game changer. Our initial ones were 15 minutes long without professional lighting or sound.
Check out Streeter’s favorite sketch he was in:
Something people don’t know about your job: There’s this image of CollegeHumor being a no holds barred party. There is quite a bit of joking around, but it’s much more serious than people think. Sometimes, interns are surprised they have to do real work.
Formula for a successful CH video: There’s no set type or grand plan, which can be frustrating, but is also crucial to our success. It means we can try weird stuff all the time. You might spend forever writing a sketch you think will be huge, but nobody likes it – and then a video of a kid falling off a coffee table is the biggest hit.
Turnaround time for videos: About two weeks. Less if it’s super-timely.
Staff size: About 100, plus freelancers.
Were you the class clown growing up? No. I was really hoping for that superlative, though.
I’m sorry. Was the kid who won funnier than you? All kids are funny, but it takes a certain type to think, “Okay, I’m funny. Will someone pay me to be funny?” That’s the type of kid who ends up with a career in comedy.
Best prank: When I convinced [my co-worker] Amir that he won a half million dollars for talking a half-court shot at the University of Maryland basketball game. It was one of the single greatest moments of my life – 18,000 people did exactly what I told them to do.
Most embarrassing CH moment: In my early sketches, I was 20 pounds fatter and had a little chin goatee going on. Getting on camera right after college probably wasn’t the best for me.
In CH videos, everyone on staff seems so close. I’ve worked with the same core group of six or seven people for the past six years, which is unheard of today. My work friends are my real friends – there’s no separation.
Do you have any special traditions at the office? Lots, actually. An ad salesman who used to work here was notorious for writing bad jokes in reply-all emails. So we created a trophy called the Turby – named after this ad salesman, whose nickname was Turbo. We award the trophy to whoever sends a really shitty reply-all email, and it keeps getting passed around. We have a nominating committee and everything.
That’s hilarious. What else? Whenever it’s someone’s birthday in the office, the entire staff stands at his or her desk and claps for a while. It was much easier with just 15 people on staff – now, it can get out of hand to move 60 or 70 people over to a desk. But we do it anyway. Oh, and we make the interns sing karaoke on Intern Appreciation Night.
Streeter is a pretty unique name – do you go by a nickname? Nicknames have never stuck because my name is just so weird. I’d love one, though.
Favorite TV show of all time: It’s a toss-up between Lost and the British version of The Office.
Celebrity you’d like to punch in the face: Shaun White. I think that would make a lot of skateboarders and snowboarders really happy.
Comedian role model: Mike Birbiglia. His work is sad, moving, and funny; you leave his shows feeling you just watched Forrest Gump.
Go-to joke during an awkward silence: At Christmas, someone will give a very personal gift that they’ve obviously put a ton of thought into. And I’ll yell, “That’s from all of us!” My dad still cracks up every time.
LAUNCHING YOUR CAREER>>
1. Nobody is going door to door asking if any funny people live there. You need to build your own fan base and distribute your writing and videos.
2. The entertainment and comedy industries can be foreboding, but just accept that you probably won’t level up to the huge personalities right away. Identify where you’d like to work, and find an in by interning or writing for the show.
3. Comedians are very cliquey, and recommendations will get you everywhere. Form a group for yourself by performing regularly at the same comedy clubs – you’ll start seeing the same people. A more formal way to meet people is taking classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade.