Argon walks into a bar, and the barman says get out; Argon does not react. So goes a typical chemistry joke superimposed on a “LOLcat,” a popular internet meme that features photographs of cute cats caught in quirky situations such as having a lab coat and glasses on in a chemistry lab.
As editor-in-chief of the popular meme website I Can Has Cheezburger, UCLA alumna Emily Huh is responsible for sorting out the usable content from the never-ending submissions of memes, images and videos such as Nyan Cat or Forever Alone. Internet memes keep users connected and help set new online trends for current events in entertainment.
The explosion in popularity of Cheezburger across the Web resulted in a collaboration with Bravo TV to produce a reality show called “LOLwork.”
Premiering tonight, the show documents a behind-the-scenes look into the creative team’s cat-ventures in their Seattle office and shows the different roles of each employee, including Huh’s content editing.
Before Cheezburger started, Huh graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology and began working full time as an assistant director of an educational center in Chicago. She married Ben Huh and started a personal humor blog about the life of their dog, Nemo. Inspired by their online posts and Nemo, the couple decided to invest in the original I Can Has Cheezburger website together.
“Cheezburger is our original (website), and another big one is Fail Blog, which kind of just shows little fails around the world,” Emily Huh said. “We have a concept team that runs the sites, and I make sure everything’s appropriate, funny and high quality.”
All of the content published on the Cheezburger Network weblogs is carefully observed and evaluated to make sure it will fit in with their posts.
One member of the creative team, content supervisor Will Sharick, said the culture of Cheezburger is strongly presented in “LOLwork.”
“We receive thousands of submissions including images, videos and GIFs,” Sharick said. “We get a lot of weird stuff. But the culture of Cheezburger is that we provide a playground for users on the Internet so it’s nothing strange.”
On average, Cheezburger gets around 20,000 meme and video submissions during the course of one day, which keeps the creative team occupied with uploading the best memes and videos. Furthermore, the Cheezburger Network has five books, two of which are New York Times bestsellers; this pop culture relevance piqued Bravo’s interest. Huh said she is confident “LOLwork” will appeal to a whole range of people and will attract a new audience that wants to see new humor.
Executive producer of “LOLwork” Jay Blumenfield said, “You can’t make an authentic show about real people without figuring out what they’re comfortable with. Bravo understood us.”
Huh said once the cameras started filming, everyone became used to them. She said, “In the first few episodes, you’ll get to know everyone. We do an annual competition you’ll see called the Cheez Olympics where you see competitive spirits come out. And a lot of it is kind of our day-to-day meetings and the different antics that we come to.”
The first season of “LOLwork” will consist of six 30-minute episodes that incorporate cat memes and animal videos found on Cheezburger, and documents the staff of Cheezburger as they create a new comedic web series that emphasizes their love of cats for the site. Huh said cats are the most popular form of content published on the website because they are hilarious and fun.
The show is different from Bravo’s better-known Real Housewives series, and Huh said her creative team is an awkward dysfunctional family, but they really get along and are proud of that.
During a staff meeting, Ben Huh groups the office members in teams of two and assigns them to a competition. Each team uses its creativity to film a new web series that captures its adoration of cats, which leads to interviewing people on the streets and shouting “I love cats!” in front of green screens.
Blumenfield said he is also an avid fan of Cheezburger and its content. He said “LOLwork” is relatable and reminds him of people he’s been in offices with.
“You really get to know these people, and when you get to know them they surprise you and you get sucked into their world,” said Blumenfield.
Unsurprisingly, the Cheezburger motto to “make people happy five minutes a day” was inspired by users.
“We would get a comment saying, “˜you let me escape from work for a few minutes a day’ and through that we came up with our mission,” Emily Huh said. “We’re not here to do anything big or cure cancer; we’re here to just make people laugh.”