Everything You Always Wanted To Know About What What (In the Butt)*
*But were afraid to ask
Samwell and his friend Mike Stasny (both flight attendants at the time) made the “What What” song in Mike’s basement for fun and performed it at an underground performance art space in Milwaukee. Bobby Ciraldo & Andrew Swant of Special Entertainment were in the audience and asked if they could make a video for the unpublished song. They shot the video in their Milwaukee studio in late 2006 and premiered it at the Green Gallery in early 2007. A few days later they uploaded the video to a popular new site called YouTube and sent it to as many blogs as they could. The video immediately went viral and has since become a worldwide sensation with over 50 million downloads so far on YouTube alone. Follow-up videos featuring Samwell have been downloaded millions of times as well.
The video rocketed up the charts the day after it was released when Perez Hilton featured it on his popular blog PerezHilton.com. The next day, VH1’s Best Week Ever featured the video, which also contributed to its viral success.
A year later, after the video had already been downloaded nearly nine million times, an episode of South Park aired that revolved around the What What phenomenon and featured a shot-for-shot re-creation of the video, starring Butters (a popular South Park character) in place of Samwell. The South Park episode introduced the What What video to an even broader audience and further solidified it as a pop culture artifact.
The video has been mentioned in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, CBS News, CNN, The Hollywood Reporter, TV Guide, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The LA Times, E! Online, MTV, VH1, The Onion, NME, Gawker, Billboard, and many others.
What What (in the Butt) was the #17 Top Rated YouTube Video of All Time and has been listed on YouTube’s “Most Discussed Videos Of All Time” and “Most Watched Music Videos Of All Time” charts for years. To date, it’s received over 180,000 viewer comments, has been written about in over 1,500 blogs and news articles, and has been honored with over 1,000 response videos. The video has screened in numerous film festivals and art galleries, and won the Pill award for Best Animation at the 2010 Pill Awards show in New York.
The video has been listed on Google Trends Daily Hot List, it was featured on KnowYourMeme.com, it placed #69 on urlesque’s 100 Most Iconic Internet Videos of All Time list, and it’s featured in CollegeHumor’s Web Celeb Hall of Fame.
In 2008, Samwell was a guest on the BBC television show Lily Allen and Friends, where his interview with Lily Allen was followed by a live performance of “What What (In the Butt)”, complete with choreographed male dancers. The “What What” song then surfaced on an episode of Sweden’s Got Talent in which four naked young men danced to the song while holding pancakes over their private parts. Members of the Israeli Army made a controversial fan remake of the video which became popular after being featured on Boing Boing.
Last year Samwell appeared on Tosh.0, a hit Comedy Central series about viral videos. The episode featured an extensive dialog between the show’s host, Daniel Tosh, and Samwell in a sauna, followed by an unplugged version of the “What What” song by Samwell and Josh Homme, lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures.
Watch behind-the-scenes outtakes from the original “What What” green-screen shoot HERE!
A feature film called What What (In the Butt): The Movie is currently in development.