As a result of “This Land,” their animated spoof of George Bush and John Kerry in the 2004 election, brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis suddenly found themselves with millions of fans on the Internet. Another overnight success story ten years in the making, the JibJab boys built on their success by eventually expanding to a company of 35 people in a loft office and production facility on Main Street in Venice, having spent years a few blocks north on the same busy street. The Mirror spent some time with Evan, the “art guy” (his brother is “the writing guy”), and found him to be a happy maverick in a business that usually demands conformity, or at the very least, obedience to the wishes of others (I believe they are called “clients”).
The brothers Spiridellis rebounded from the first “dot-com bust” to create a successful online company that produces, in addition to their political satires and other animated projects, a hugely successful line of e-cards, all with their characteristic loopy humor and animation.
When asked what sort of opportunities came about after “This Land,” Evan smiles as he recalls meetings with various media giants, and the offers of various pilots and animated films. Without naming names, he explains how he and his brother turned down numerous offers, even when they needed the money, because they wanted to create content that was their own, without the interference that often, if not usually, spoils off-center artistic ideas. Eminently patient, Spiridellis explained that, “we’d rather wait until we have a product with 20 millions views, and say to a studio, ‘would you like our fans to come along when we make this?’” At the end of the day, the brothers Spiridellis have a simple criteria for what they produce, whether it’s an e-card or any other kind of content: if it makes them and the people they work with laugh, they will take it as an article of faith that an audience might find it funny as well. No one bats a thousand, but the JibJab boys actually seem to operate from a place of integrity, another comparitive rarity in media.
Projects like “This Land” or their latest political video, “Time for Some Campaigning,” their hazing of Obama and McCain, can take a couple of months, whereas an e-card can be produced in as little as a day. Spiridellis smilingly notes that his company does not function according to traditional corporate models; all ideas are welcome, whether they come from the writers or the animators or anyone else. The brothers of course have final say, but a kind of focused anarchy seems to be their modus operandi.
Spiridellis noted that they keep their personal politics out of their work – they consider themselves to be equal opportunity satirists, and he notes laughingly that people on both sides of the political spectrum either claim them as their own, or assume their sympathies lie in the other camp.
Given their space, numerous projects in development, and negotiations with various larger media outlets, one might easily make the assumption that JibJab is doing quite well financially, but Spiridellis demurred when asked for any financial figures. “Don’t let the space fool you,” he joked. Joking aside, it would seem that the brothers Spiridellis, two transplants from Brooklyn, NY currently loving life by the beach in Venice/Santa Monica, are doing just fine.
To view JibJab’s latest video, visit jibjab.com/originals/time_for_some_campaignin