By Lyons, Dan
Newsweek , Vol. 159, No. 03
Byline: Dan Lyons
Coming soon to cable: an unbearable cartoon about talking fruit. Kids love it. Parents hate it. Meet the two dudes who've made millions driving you crazy.
If you have kids, chances are you've heard of The Annoying Orange, a pun-laden animated Web series that is, true to its name, just about the most annoying thing on the Internet. The star of the show is a talking orange who insults other pieces of fruit in a kitchen, and the videos often end with a piece of fruit getting sliced, chopped, or otherwise destroyed. The animation consists of a cheesy special effect in which actual pieces of fruit have mouths and eyes superimposed on them. The videos are about three minutes long, and they are almost unbearable.
They are also incredibly popular. Launched just two years ago, The Annoying Orange claims 2.2 million subscribers and has drawn nearly 1 billion views, with a core audience of 8- to 13-year-olds. The show's creator, 31-year-old Dane Boedigheimer, made the first Annoying Orange video on a lark, but now the joke has turned into a serious business. Boedigheimer has struck licensing deals to sell toys at Toys "R" Us and T-shirts at JCPenney. This year he and his writing partner, Spencer Grove, will launch an Annoying Orange show on Cartoon Network.
The pair, who grew up in North Dakota and met as undergraduates in Minnesota, say they still can't quite believe their good fortune. "We have a lot of conversations where we're like, 'Wow, what is going on?'?" says Boe-dig-heimer, who now lives in Los Angeles, where he shoots each week's episode in his garage. Says Grove: "I keep thinking to myself, 'Dude, one day I'm going to wake up and realize that this has all been some kind of alternate reality, and I'm actually just flipping burgers for a living.'"
A little more than two years ago, Grove and Boedig-heimer were working as low-level helpers on MTV's reality show Pimp My Ride. By night they would shoot short films and load them onto YouTube. A few of their videos drew traffic, but nothing huge. Then, in October 2009, Boedigheimer posted the first Annoying Orange video, and "all of a sudden it got to 1 million views, then 2 million, then 3 million, and pretty soon it was doing 1 million hits a week," he recalls. …