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The Internet launched Andy Milonakis. TV keeps up the fast clip.

April 08, 2006|Susan Carpenter | Times Staff Writer

Andy Milonakis is sitting on a couch, stuffing his mouth with Skittles, M&Ms and other sweet treats when his teeth fall out in an especially gooey piece of pink candy. So begins Season Two of "The Andy Milonakis Show," an offbeat half-hour comedy program starring Web phenom Andy Milonakis.

The show, which debuted on MTV last year, returned to the airwaves on MTV2 on March 31 with multiple repeats through the week. But, in an effort to take advantage of viral marketing, the network put part of the show online in early March.

For Milonakis, the teaser video release brings his career full circle. It was online that the comedian first developed his fan base, catching the eye of late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel and, as a result, MTV. Since 2000, when Milonakis first started videotaping himself singing, rapping and generally making a fool of himself in and around his New York apartment, his minutes-long clips have become Web classics, seen by millions. His best-known video -- "The Superbowl Is Gay" -- shows Milonakis strumming his guitar and singing about how "gay" the Raiders are, along with water, cologne, DVD players, the sky, cottage cheese, vacuum cleaners, shirts and everything else. Then there's "Crispy New Freestyle," an off-color rap that begins "meet me ... at the Waffle House" before bringing his mom, dad, a frying pan, Junior Mints, birds and other incongruities into the mix.

His MTV2 show expands on that same oddball humor in a hodgepodge of sketches, pranks, songs and man-in-the-street segments that, in the first season, had Milonakis skipping up to strangers to compliment them on their socks or say things like, "Thanks for not stabbing me."

Off camera, Milonakis is a bit more dialed down.

When he arrives at a lunchtime interview -- by cab, even though he now lives in L.A. -- he looks and acts pretty normal, wearing an outfit almost identical to the one he always wears on his show: blue jeans and a button-up shirt, only today the shirt is navy blue instead of red.

Throughout lunch, Milonakis sits with his Treo on the table -- the latest gizmo evidencing his "gadget freak" nature.

"I was a huge Internet junkie," says Milonakis, who was doing computer work at an accounting firm when he started making videos six years ago.

His first was a written rap about his experience at a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant. It was filmed with a webcam. Upgrading to a digital camera, Milonakis branched out to other topics, spoofing children's songs like "Where Is Thumbkin," and stepping up production to two or three videos a week, all of which were uploaded to the site under his own Ice Cream Fantastic moniker.

"I'd think of a topic and just rant on it and transfer it to the computer, upload it. It's such a quick thing. You post it on your website and after an hour, 10 people write comments.... It's instant gratification to do something creative and then instantly get feedback on it. There was no waiting, so it became a little addictive thing."

For the first couple of years, Milonakis said his videos attracted a daily audience of a few hundred. That changed when he filmed "The Superbowl Is Gay" -- a video he shot and uploaded in less than half an hour, he says. In the span of a week, the traffic on his site increased from 200 a day to 2,000 to 90,000, and he started getting e-mails from people saying they'd seen his videos on websites other than his own --, ebaums and The websites started asking him for interviews, then radio stations.

"They were calling me up live on the air, and I didn't even know they'd be calling," Milonakis says. "Two seconds after I answered my phone, I'd hear my song playing in the background on the radio. My heart was beating real fast."

Like most Web humor that makes the rounds, the frenzy for his "Superbowl" piece slowed to a trickle within a couple of weeks, but then, just as Milonakis thought the whole thing was over, he got an e-mail. It was from the TV show "Jimmy Kimmel Live," asking for permission to air the clip and gauging his interest in being a correspondent.

"I'm on the Internet a lot more than I watch TV and most everybody I know is, and yet if you watch most late-night talk shows, it's as if it doesn't even exist. So the Internet, it's just something I wanted to make use of in some way," says Kimmel, who'd been forwarded the clip by one of the writers on his show, which made its debut on Super Bowl Sunday in January 2003. "I was fascinated by what appeared to be a child singing this song. It just struck me as funny."

In person, Milonakis looks as young as he does on TV. His height, girth and cherubic unshaven face all give him the appearance of a teenager, though and an independent credit search reveal him to be 30.

Ask Milonakis about his age, however, and he'll say "anywhere between 10 and 70."

Ask MTV2 executive producer Tony DiSanto, and he'll say, "somewhere between 16 and 39."

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