Mark Magark

Mark Magark is a writer, educator, and sometime stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. He hosts a podcast called Making Friends with Mark Magark, in which he shares laughs and gets deep with the comedy stars of Twitter. He doesn't have any kids of his own, but he is a weird, weird uncle.

This Day In Internet History – November 9, 2009: CBS Announces It Will Televise $#*! My Dad Says

Shit My Dad Says

“Twitter got me a sitcom deal.”

Dads say weird stuff. It’s a universal truth. Most of us just get embarrassed in front of our friends, but writer Justin Halpern capitalized on the bizarre crap coming out of his dad’s mouth by creating a Twitter account called @ShitMyDadSays. To his surprise, the account quickly became a viral phenomenon and gained the interest of executives at CBS when it achieved massive popularity.

Read on to see how it all crumbled to bits!

The Main Event

On November 9, 2009, CBS announced it was developing a television sitcom based on the Twitter feed @ShitMyDadSays. After its premiere on September 23, 2010, the series, starring William Shatner, was immediately maligned by critics. Check out these hilarious headlines:

The Pile of $h*! That Was ‘$h*! My Dad Says’ – SplitSider

CBS Quietly Admits the Shit My Dad Says Pilot Was Shit – Gawker

And take a peek at this brutal review, from Slant Magazine’s Kris King:

$#*! My Dad Says is a dismal show, harboring the worst qualities of every lame, four-camera, laugh-tracked sitcom on television. The jokes are painful, the acting is hammy, the characters are flat, and it simply isn’t funny. Ever.

God, I love journalism!

Remember, before it was one of the worst television shows of the modern era, @ShitMyDadSays was actually a wildly successful Twitter account, loved by millions. Let’s trace its rise from obscurity.

A Brief History Of Shit My Dad Says

In August of 2009, semi-employed comedy writer Justin Halpern moved back in with his parents and started Shit My Dad Says simply as a way to document his septuagenarian father’s profanity-laced, oddly wise musings.

It wasn’t long before word got out, thanks in part to comedian Rob Corddry tweeting out the link to a wide audience. Within a month, tweets from Shit My Dad Says were mentioned on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Halpern’s follower count grew into the millions.

Idea-starved executives took notice. First came the book deal. In October of 2009, Halpern signed a deal with HarperCollins Publishers. Upon release, the book topped the bestseller list for six weeks. Then came the jump to TV. CBS approached Halpern for a television deal just a couple of months after the Twitter account was launched.

The move by CBS represented a newfound willingness for traditional media outlets, like television, to incorporate intellectual property from new media, such as Twitter. Speaking of… has anyone at CBS seen my tweets? They’re worth at least $2 million each, don’t you think? Uh, I’m willing to negotiate.

Where Are They Now?

As I might have mentioned above, the television series wasn’t exactly a homerun. After 18 episodes aired, $#*! My Dad Says (yes, the name was censored) was unceremoniously replaced midseason. It was not renewed.

Perhaps part of the problem was that CBS insisted on making it a multi-camera sitcom with a laugh-track, which didn’t exactly scream “new and innovative storytelling!” Or perhaps it failed because tweets are typically short, pithy, self-contained thoughts–often without an overarching narrative. Whatever the reason, it fucking tanked.

You can still visit @ShitMyDadSays for cranky, profanity-laced rants from Justin’s father, although it is rarely updated these days. At the time of writing, the most recent tweet was from May 9, 2017.

And Justin Halpern was savvy enough to leverage the failure of  $#*! My Dad Says as a platform to launch a successful screenwriting career, with credits on Surviving Jack, Cougar Town, and Powerless.

So happy anniversary to the day a hilarious Twitter account got turned into an unfunny television show. Do I sound bitter? I swear, I’m not bitching.

This Day In Internet History – November 2, 2010: Keyboard Cat Goes Mainstream

(Keyboard Cat/YouTube)

Greetings, internet historians! Let’s take a look back at a significant occurrence from seven years ago, when everyone’s favorite chill meme, Keyboard Cat, hit the paydirt. We caught up with the Keyboard Cat’s owner for an interview (seriously). But first…

The Main Event

On November 2, 2010, a 15 second ad featuring Keyboard Cat aired during the World Series. Oddly enough, it was for pistachios. Pistachios are not necessarily what I think of when I think of hugely lucrative businesses, but, according to Keyboard Cat creator Charlie Schmidt, “it’s been very profitable.”

The year 2010 saw Keyboard Cat at her absolute zenith. She had struck gold. But, oh, how quickly our idols come undone. In the ensuing years, Keyboard Cat has all but disappeared. Who knows where she is now? Well, I do. And I’ll tell you! We caught up with her owner Charlie Schmidt for an exclusive interview. But first, a brief history.

A History of Keyboard Cat

The internet has always been crazy for cats, but this cat was special. This cat was a musician. This cat wore a blue shirt.

The original Keyboard Cat was a cute little feline lady named Fatso, who tickled the ivories way back in 1984. About 23 years later, a video clip of Fatso found its way onto My Damn Channel, where it was appended to humiliating blooper clips (“An old man kicked in the groin? LOL play him off, Keyboard Cat!”). More recent incarnations, including the pistachios ad, feature (imposter alert!) a cat named Bento.

Before she threw away all her lo-fi punk rock integrity to star on broadcast television, Keyboard Cat was a bona fide internet sensation. See for yourself.

Man Falls Off Treadmill (Play him off, Keyboard Cat!)

Miss Teen South Carolina Doesn’t Know Geography (Play her off, Keyboard Cat!)

Ron Livingston Parodies Keyboard Cat (Play her off, guy from Office Space!)

The current incarnation of Keyboard Cat lives in Spokane, Washington, with inventor, artist, and cat trainer Charlie Schmidt. I tracked down Charlie to ask a few questions about his most famous protégé.

Mark: What was your opinion of the pistachios commercial?

Charlie: Killer.

Mark: Do you think Fatso would have liked it?

Charlie: No doubt it would have made her purr.

Mark: What was the process like?

Charlie: Trying to recreate random on purpose is no easy task. About as hard as recreating on purpose randomly.

Mark: What are some of your favorite reactions to Keyboard Cat?

Charlie: The first time babies laugh while watching KBC, junkies getting clean with motivation from KBC, so many people really appreciating momentary happiness.

Mark: How does/did Keyboard Cat deal with fame?

Charlie: There have been ups and downs, kind of like Brian Wilson. There are a few videos about his struggles. He lives here with 3 other male cats. There is definitely animosity about it all. Bottom line is he is a true professional when the camera is rolling.

Mark: What does Keyboard Cat want from us?

Charlie: Keyboard Cat wants you to smile and create and be nice. Seek your Inner Radish.

(Charlie Schmidt)

There you have it, folks. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that you can hit it big by being an iconic cat. So remember this day as the anniversary of the world wide web’s greatest feline talent abandoning all artistic integrity to score a huge paycheck — and to, uh, seek inner radish. Play yourself off, Keyboard Cat!

Check out Charlie Schmidt’s store at Treat yourself to a cool t-shirt.