By Valerie Luu
City on a Hill Press Editor
Just like most college students, Amir Blumenfeld spends his days viewing viral videos — except he gets paid to watch and act in them.
Blumenfeld, a UC Berkeley graduate, is a senior writer at CollegeHumor.com, a comedy website based in New York that showcases user-submitted and original videos, pictures and articles.
Garnering over 4 million hits a month, CollegeHumor has grown from a collection of YouTube staples such as the Star Jedi kid and “Charlie Bit Me” video to producing CH Originals, an original comedy video series, as well as creating the CollegeHumor Show on MTV.
In addition to writing and acting in CH Original videos and the CollegeHumor Show, Blumenfeld works on “Jake and Amir,” a side project with fellow CollegeHumor co-worker Jake Hurwitz. He plays Hurwitz’s annoying and possessive co-worker with a seemingly low IQ and taste for chicken nuggets.
City on a Hill Press chatted via e-mail with Amir and asked him about life on the computer screen, his favorite viral videos, and much more.
City on a Hill Press: Where are you from originally? Where did you grow up?
Amir Blumenfeld: I was born in Israel. Moved to LA when I was two, and grew up in Los Angeles.
CHP: You attended UC Berkeley, right? What did you study there? Did that in any way prepare you for what you’re doing now?
AB: I studied business at the Haas Undergraduate Business Program. I use my degree to make somewhat intelligent jokes about finance and accounting, but nothing much beyond that.
CHP: Before you got a job at CollegeHumor, what did you think you were going to do after college?
AB: I was hoping to get a creative job in business, perhaps advertising or marketing, while pursuing my comedy-writing passion on the side.
CHP: How and when did you get started with CollegeHumor? What do you do for them?
AB: I started writing for them freelance while I was at Berkeley. I was hired full-time in June 2005 right after graduation. I’m a writer for our CH Originals department.
CHP: What do you like to do when you’re not working for CollegeHumor?
AB: I’m constantly working on something, whether it’s scripts for CollegeHumor or videos for Jake and Amir. I also freelance for ESPN the magazine. I like to watch ESPN in my free time. Basketball and football mostly.
CHP: I read that you’ve been writing comedy articles for a while now, and that’s how you got started with CollegeHumor. Has your sense of humor changed in the past couple years?
AB: Yeah, my comedy is a little more down-to-earth now. I look back on old articles and think “Wow, I was crazy!” Some articles of mine still make me laugh. I still really like my “Math Textbook Cover Brainstorm Session.”
CHP: How do you explain your job to people who aren’t familiar with CollegeHumor?
AB: I write hyper-dramatic poetry for senior citizens.
CHP: You and CollegeHumor co-worker Streeter Seidell have been engaged in prank wars for the past couple years. Which prank was the worst? How long did it take you to get over it?
AB: The most embarrassing one was probably the Human Giant one because I had bragged to my friends about that appearance for a couple weeks. I’ll let you know when I get over it.
CHP: I’m a huge fan of Jake and Amir. How did you create the Amir character? How similar are you to him?
AB: The Amir character is an amalgamation of thousands of annoying people Jake and I have met throughout our entire lives. I hope I’m very dissimilar to him, but who knows!
CHP: The last show of College-Humor just aired on MTV. What is it like airing on the television screen versus the computer screen? Do you feel famous?
AB: I never feel famous. Working on TV is much more meticulous. The stakes are higher so we spend longer writing, shooting and editing everything.
CHP: What’s your favorite viral video right now?
AB: Good question. I’ll go with Rapping Flight Attendant.
CHP: We have some funny people at UCSC. What does it take to work at CollegeHumor?
AB: Contribute as a writer. If your articles do well it may earn you an internship, and eventually a job.
CHP: I hear you have a cousin that went to UCSC. Have you ever visited?
AB: I was a bad cousin. I visited some friends in Santa Cruz freshman year, and then never again. Though I remember the awesome foresty campus fondly.