If You Ever Wondered How That SNL Juggalo Parody Came About...
My officemate Jason Sudeikis and I were shown the 14-minute 2009 infomercial for the Gathering of the Juggalos. I was actually sent it a few times by friends while I was at Second City, but didn't really watch it until I was hanging out with Jason one writing night. We showed it to Colin [Jost, another SNL writer] and were all just fascinated by it on several levels. I grew up in southeast Michigan so I was familiar with ICP and some of the ideas of the fan base (I'm no stranger to Faygo soda). So, Colin and I decided to write a parody. It was an interesting challenge right off the bat because we were parodying something that was not known by many of our viewers, so we tried to make it funny on its own.
So a kid from Michigan decided to parody his Detroit homeboys. But O'brien said he wasn't just trying to parody the Gathering, but all outdoor type festivals:
The fact is, in the past 10 years I've become way less into all-day outdoor concert events and the video is making that statement as much as it's parodying the ICP infomercial. There's never any bathrooms, you're sunburned, you haven't heard of half the bands… Hopefully anyone who's been to Lollapalooza, Warped, etc will relate to this fictional festival that is the worst of all those things. In some ways, the Juggalos infomercial became the style and vehicle to make that message.
He mentioned that he was surprised that something that he wrote at 3 in the morning ended being a "cultural phenomenon", with Ass Dan getting recognition on the streets, as well as him being personally invited to this year's Gathering:
I didn't really know it was a "cultural phenomenon." It's hard to get a gauge of what real people are talking about when you're here all the time. Bobby Moynihan said people were yelling "we love you, Ass Dan" to him on the street and I was really shocked. Ass Dan, along with the whole first parody, was created collaboratively by me and Colin from something like 3-7am one writing night. Colin would mumble fictional band names as he went in and out of light sleep on the couch in my office.
As a side note, the reason I was not able to do this interview for awhile is that I was down at the 2010 Gathering of the Juggalos! ICP and Psychopathic Records have been extremely generous towards us and they brought me and a friend down to check out the event we'd parodied. I thought that was pretty awesome. My friend, Brad Morris, and I shot some bits for a side project we do called Almost Pimps, and then put the camera away and just enjoyed walking around the festival talking to some really unique people. They were welcoming, even when they heard I'd written the SNL parodies. The roughest thing that happened was that Brad got "bag tagged" (backhand slap to the crotch) by a guy for asking him when Dave Matthews was playing.
It's good to see that the ICP guys have a sense of humor about the whole thing. I'm sure they also recognized that by being parodied on network television, they also gained a few fans here and there as well as a tremendous amount of publicity. For those of you who are comedy nerds like I am, I definitely recommend reading the whole interview, as most of it is about how he landed his job, and working at SNL on the whole. Hopefully, we have more rock related parodies coming in the new season of the show which kicks off in September.