The Man With Two Brians! Can NBC’s Personality Industry Save the Anchor from Irrelevance?

BriWi's their guy for national disasters, Internet explainers, presidential debates and ASSSCAT cameos.

Last summer, Mr. Cunningham and some friends started a semi-serious Brian Williams for President campaign. Not because they viewed him as a paragon of trustworthiness and authority, but because he was funny.

The real signal of the anchor’s “indie comedy cred,” he said, was Mr. Williams’s turn on ASSSCAT, a regular improv show put on by the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Mr. Cunningham doesn’t watch broadcast news religiously—especially now that it appears BriWi (a nickname Internet gadabout Rachel Sklar takes credit for) won’t be running for office—but said that he’s seen Rock Center, and likes it. “It’s a lot like Dateline, but if Dateline were allowed to not do stories on cheerleader-murderers,” he noted.

For people accustomed to digesting news through a Twitter stream that contains both CNN breaking news and Onion headlines, it’s no big deal to see the man in the anchor’s desk toggle between hard news and comedy.

“I was talking with a friend of mine about how Brian Williams manages to make you truly care about tragic-but-evergreen stories you hear about nearly every day—in a way that’s hard to pin down,” Mr. Cunningham explained. “Then four minutes later, he’ll do a segment on the ‘Shit Girls Say’ videos and it doesn’t feel weird.”

Given Mr. Williams’s obvious chops as an entertainer, we wondered, does Mr. Cunningham think Mr. Williams is wasted doing the news?

“I would be shocked,” he replied. “He’s got it together up there and is too sharp to be drunk at the desk. No offense to Pat Sajak, but going toe-to-toe with Jon Stewart comedically is a lot harder than remembering which letters are vowels.”

Um, actually, we meant wasted as in, Is his true talent going to waste behind the news desk, reading other people’s words? Mr. Williams reportedly abstains from alcohol.

“Ha, oh man—sorry, BriWi just did a segment on Sajak being drunk last night, so I thought that’s what you were referring to,” Mr. Cunningham replied.

The Man With Two Brians! Can NBC’s Personality Industry Save the Anchor from Irrelevance?