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The most memorable comedic take on the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico hasn’t come from “Saturday Night Live,” “The Daily Show” or a late-night monologue.
Instead, a cheaply made video by an unlikely New York improv troupe has created the only commentary that has truly resonated online: a three-minute spoof that shows BP executives pathetically trying to clean up a coffee spill.
In the video, BP execs are in the middle of a meeting when someone overturns a coffee cup. The liquid oozes across the conference table. One exec says it will “destroy all the fish” (his sushi lunch); another says it’s encroaching on his map of Louisiana. They try to contain the coffee spill by wrapping their arms around the perimeter, dumping garbage on top to absorb the liquid, clipping hair over it and other stupid human tricks.
Three hours later, the spill remains with all the mess left from attempts to contain it: paper, hair, soil, plants, etc. Finally, they get Kevin Costner on the phone.
“He’ll know what to do for sure,” an exec says with great hope.
“Do you have a golf ball?” Costner asks. No. A pingpong ball? Yes. Costner tells them to throw it at the spill. They do. Nothing happens. Then: 47 days later. The spill and the mess are still there with BP execs no closer to a solution.
In the last two weeks, the video has been watched by nearly 7 million people on YouTube. By the count of Viral Video Chart, it’s been shared some 300,000 times on blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.
The video was dreamed up by the writers for the sketch show “Beneath Gristedes,” a monthly stage show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. While meeting to work on the show, a germ of the concept came to Erik Tanouye, who worked out the script with fellow writers John Frusciante, Gavin Spieller and Eric Scott.
They shot it two days later and within a week, it was up on UCBComedy.com.
The site has had some viral hits — a parody of a Google ad, a spoof of the “David After the Dentist” video — but nothing on this level. UCBComedy.com’s servers immediately crashed under the traffic.