If you squint your eyes, or maybe you’re three beers deep, it’s the metaverse. There’s some self-important maniac preaching that the body is the past, the future is digital recreation where we all exist through cheesy avatars.
“I’m talking about a place that is not a website,” our protagonist says. “It’s NOT a website. It’s a different reality. It’s a whole new world.”
But this is not some promotion for Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, it’s an unhinged video from the most deranged comedian working, Conner O’Malley. It’s a hilarious short film, in a you-have-to-be-online sort of way, but it’s also weirdly prescient. O’Malley dropped this YouTube video/short film/art project, titled Endorphin Port, nearly four months before Facebook’s big rebrand to Meta in October 2021.
So it’s not, you know, actually like a Meta promo. O’Malley’s character, donning an ill-fitting suit and ripping ciggies launches into weird, pseudosexual rants about this new reality.
“No one will be judged if they have a pussy, tit, or ass: Everyone will design their own avatar,” the character shouts, walking through a very real construction site, jackhammers rumbling. “There will be no excuse! It is up to you to do what you want to do. A True. Fucking. Paradise. You want to be Gollum, six foot tall, jacked with a huge fucking cock and an ass like the mom from Incredibles? Go right a fucking ahead, buddy.”
It’s an off-the-wall combo of anticapitalist, anti-tech, modern life parody and it’s something only O’Malley could do…and why am I trying to explain this? Here, just watch it.
But here’s the strangest thing: That video, however psychotic it may be, might be the best send-up of the metaverse possible. And it hints at a bigger trend when it comes to O’Malley. His sensibility and his comedy portrays the internet and its culture better than any comedian or, really, most anyone with an internet connection.
In Endorphin Port, for instance, he is, at once, sending up both the Tech Visionaries (eye roll) who promise a virtual world and the chuds online who might just call themselves “epic mind soldiers” as they blindly defend billionaires (cough, cough, Elon Musk, cough). Sneaking beneath the surface of the short film, there’s the sadness of O’Malley, uncomfortable in his body, chain-smoking and imagining the video-game future. That’s the message O’Malley keeps sending in his videos. The future is online. It’s strangers with unearned confidence, misinformed idiots, and rich dudes overseeing it all — and it’s really fucking sad and lonely and deeply hilarious in a nihilistic sense.
Yes, almost certainly, I am reading too much into Conner O’Malley YouTube videos. But I’m too online, what can you expect? I’m sad and laughing at it, too.
It’s odd to see O’Malley act, well, anything resembling normal. It does happen, though. If you’re not super familiar with his work, you might recognize him from the movie Palm Springs, or Hulu’s Shrill, or Late Night with Seth Myers, where he played semi-normal characters. So yes, while he is weird internet’s favorite comedian he’s also been in Broad City, I Think You Should Leave, and has written for all kinds of amazing shows like Late Night, HBO’s How To With John Wilson, and Joe Pera Talks with You. Also, not for nothing, he’s married to SNL’s Aidy Bryant.
But If you know O’Malley well, then you know him as the guy playing bonkers characters detached from anything resembling sanity. And I’m not talking about sitcom-weird — like how TV characters have their zany dial turned up to 11. A Conner O’Malley character has no place in any functioning society. That’s the point. Our society ain’t functioning.
The top comment on Endorphin Port explains it really well. I think about this comment all the time.
“Somehow every single time one of these videos comes out I’m extremely hungover and usually injured and it makes my connection to reality feel very strained.”
The characters O’Malley creates, then inhabits, are the internet incarnate. They’re outsized, puking bravado, comically misinformed and confident in that misinformation. And they’re often ahead of where the internet, and thus the world, is going. For instance, remember that whole Reddit crashes the stock market, GameStop, Dogecoin thing? O’Malley kind of predicted it.
In July 2020, O’Malley dropped a video of some cop-loving, bike-riding, screaming lunatic professing his love for much-maligned, then-NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. It has the hallmarks of an O’Malley classic: filmed in real-world, dangerous conditions (on a bike, in traffic), screaming, and overt, gross sex references. The character is dressed like no human ever would: a tight, tucked-in polo, a backpack, and, funnily enough, a New York Stock Exchange hat.
Riding his bike through the city, camera on a selfie stick, the character praises de Blasio before this throwaway line.
“I want to tell you this right now: The NASDAQ is my favorite video game and I am winning it,” the character says. This was months before the online world gamed the financial system.
Sure, the next line from O’Malley was, “Bill, I’ve been so fucking horny because of COVID, you’ve got to send some cops over to my house with a fleshlight and just draaaaaain me, I am going to exploooode” — but my point stands.
Or there’s O’Malley, showing the way the online culture wars are headed, drumming up anger as a man-on-the-street, Infowars-esque guy pissed about Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance in 2016. Or he’s showing the way 4chan guys are convinced they’re special ops, playing some dude “protecting” his local Illinois outlet mall from ISIS, while professing his undying love for Brands. Or his Trump-loving character, Mark Seevers, who has absolutely no grip on reality, promoting his god-king ahead of the election.
“Everyone in this town is a fucking idiot and I’m the only one that’s smart,” Seevers says, some seven months before the 2016 election, predicting the type of refrain the nation would hear from Trump fans for four years.
O’Malley parodies the type of people who run the internet. Sure, that includes mocking tech leaders and politicians but it also means slipping on the skin of the outcasts online who really make the whole thing go. The people poisoned by forums, overconfident from YouTube videos, white supremacists, and aggressive, angry evangelicals who post only about God.
The dude must live online because he gets it. I mean he gets it. One of his latest series involves parodying the “heartwarming” stories that are often bleak as hell — like this town rallied to get this person cancer treatment even though it’s messed up they even have to pay for that type of healthcare. O’Malley tells these stories from a fake site called “Damn 4 Real” which is a parody on Now This, a social-first video outlet that made its name with these sorts of stories.
I could bend your ear with thousands of words about O’Malley being an internet oracle. I mean, the guy literally predicted conservatives getting horny for the Green M&M. But that’s not the point, not really. If O’Malley gets the internet — and I think it’s proven he does — then holy hell are we in trouble.
These Internet Guys he inhabits, they’re unhinged, radically stupid, and complex in the things they support. They’re oblivious to the outside world, walking down the highway, swimming in the East River, or bumbling through a porn convention. They’re obsessed with sex and clearly not having any. Sure, he merges Internet Guys, but those Internet Guys are often merged. The bad grammar, digital future, brand-obsessed, Marvel-loving, studied-the-blade Guy is real — and Conner O’Malley is here to mock him.
The online life and offline life aren’t distinct and haven’t been for years. And if O’Malley’s gonzo, grotesque vision for our world is even 1 percent accurate, that’s a scary prospect.
His videos are disturbingly funny but the world he creates are total fucking chaos. There is no predicting them. But the people therein are grounded with sadness. Lonely figures lashing out, angry and addicted to an attention and content-based economy that deludes everyone into thinking they’re the center of it all — or that they should be.
In the end, O’Malley characters are isolated and obsessed and broadcasting to the world through it all. And, well, shit…he really does predict the future, doesn’t he?