On the morning of Jan. 26, an apple-cheeked unknown from Astoria, Queens, named Andy Milonakis crawled out of bed and made the most important decision of his life.
He decided not to attend a friend’s Super Bowl party.
Instead, Mr. Milonakis picked up a guitar he can’t really play, turned on a video camera in his bedroom and began to sing a really, really, really stupid song.
The Super Bowl is gay, he sang.
The Super Bowl is gay.
Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl
At the top of his lungs, Mr. Milonakis went on to condemn the following things as “gay”: the Oakland Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
Then Mr. Milonakis posted the video, called “The Super Bowl Is Gay,” on an Internet Web site, angrynakedpat.com, which contained a reservoir of his short, juvenile films.
That was it. Word spread, and “The Super Bowl Is Gay” received zillions of hits on the Internet. A writer for ABC’s new late-night show, Jimmy Kimmel Live , spotted it and got Mr. Milonakis on the program. Mr. Kimmel joked that he wants to adopt him. He’s shown “The Super Bowl Is Gay” and two other videos Mr. Milonakis made, and wants him to cover spring break in Florida. MTV is calling. A guitarist from Ozzy Osbourne’s band who’s starting his own group wants Mr. Milonakis to sing “The Super Bowl Is Gay” before he plays. Adult women are sending him their photographs saying, “We love you, Andy.”
“It’s so weird,” the brown-haired, brown-eyed Mr. Milonakis said the other day, posing for a photograph on Madison Avenue. “College kids are trying to entice me to come to their college by taking pictures of hot girls. They’re like, ‘Come party with us! Here’s a picture of really hot girls you can’t have sex with!'”
Mr. Milonakis may never become a household name. “The Super Bowl Is Gay” is not everyone’s taste, to say the least. “I can film my ass farting and it would probably get more of a laugh than this,” wrote one critic on the video site ifilm.com. “This kid has more issues than Entertainment Weekly ,” wrote another.
But “this kid” from Queens is blowing up. Now people are asking questions about the seemingly precocious Mr. Milonakis, wondering where the hell he came from, what his background is, how he got so much attention so fast, why Mr. Kimmel says: “I love Andy more than I love my own children.”
“It’s crazy,” Mr. Milonakis said.
And so it makes you wonder: Who is Andy Milonakis? And what would have happened if he had just gone to that Super Bowl Party?
“This week has been the most stressful week of my life,” Mr. Milonakis said. It was Sunday, March 9, and Mr. Milonakis, looking a little wiped, was picking at brunch in a restaurant near Union Square.
“I’m getting these e-mails,” he said. “‘You should put out a DVD!’ ‘You should do a comedy album.’ And I don’t know how many of them are shady and how many of them are real opportunities. Right now I’m just letting things pass me by, because I don’t want to meet with some shady guy who has bad intentions.”
Mr. Milonakis fixed an eye on a reporter across the table. “Like you .”
Three nights before, “The Super Bowl Is Gay” had made its debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live . “That kid is going to be a star,” said Mr. Kimmel. Mr. Kimmel’s first guest, Roseanne, agreed. “He could very well be a star,” she said.
The next night, Mr. Kimmel showed a second video of Mr. Milonakis and offered a warning: “Let me tell you something, Leno, if you get that kid before us, I’m going to beat your face in-I swear to God!”
Until a couple weeks ago, Mr. Milonakis had been just another smart aleck who was good with computers and had a funny Web site. A while ago, he’d created a Web parody in which he pretended to be a bitter child actor (named Andy Milonakis). It was rife with head shots, glory tales of commercial gigs, intentional spelling mistakes and horrible grammar. Visitors to the site sent him tormenting e-mails. “The only commercial I ever want to see you in is one where you are in a pool with a concrete block chained to your neck,” one person wrote.
Later, Mr. Milonakis hooked up with a screenwriter named Brian Lynch to do angrynakedpat.com. At first Mr. Milonakis did a comic strip, but then he started making little movies. Most of them were silly, stream-of-consciousness bits that resembled the stuff kids make up during long, sugar-deprived car rides. There was Cuppy, the kid who had one $8,000 fake eye and a paper cup for the other eye. There was Dr. Curly, about a kid who loses his friend Dr. Curly, who is a … slice of ham. There was Chunky Peanut Butter Boy, about a lonely kid shunned because he has chunky peanut butter smeared on his face. “Don’t run away from me because it hurts,” the Peanut Butter Boy said.
What some of Mr. Milonakis’ fans may not have known is that the Chunky Peanut Butter Boy and Cuppy and the “Super Bowl Is Gay” kid isn’t a kid at all. Mr. Milonakis has a medical condition-“a growth-hormone thing,” he said-that makes him look considerably younger than his age. He could easily pass for a wise-ass junior high schooler.
But Mr. Milonakis isn’t a wise-ass junior high schooler. At 27, he’s a wise-ass network administrator at a midtown accounting firm who’s been quietly moonlighting in comedy for years.
Mr. Milonakis was completely up front about his age-it’s no secret-but didn’t want to go into great detail about his condition. Too ” Barbara Walters Special ,” as he put it. “I do comedy,” he said. Though his appearance did make it “harder to get girls,” he said he’s in good health. “I don’t have any liver or kidney disease like Gary Coleman,” he said.
Still, Mr. Milonakis agreed that part of his comedic appeal is his youthful look. His goofy videos don’t seem like the work of a Westchester-raised computer whiz who’s several years removed from a stint in community college. Part of the fun of watching something like “Super Bowl” is believing it’s done by some detention-hall demon suspended from school.
Even Mr. Milonakis’ friends get a kick out of the contrast between his comedy and his appearance. Pal Eric Appel was confused when he first encountered Mr. Milonakis in a bar. “I always used to see this kid who looked like he was 12, smoking cigarettes and drinking beers,” Mr. Appel said. “I was always wondering what the hell he was doing there.”
” Of course some of the humor comes from my appearance,” Mr. Milonakis said. “That’s fine. Everyone has a little shtick.” But he felt it wasn’t the only reason it worked. “Some people think that my stuff is just getting seen because I look so young,” he said. “But a lot of people like it because they like it. Hopefully it’s more of the latter.”
It is. Mr. Milonakis’ comedy is genuinely funny; it’s not just him milking his baby face. His short films are obnoxious at times, arch at others and often absurd, but they’re utterly original, chancy and refreshingly weird-think early Saturday Night Live Adam Sandler meets Cabin Boy . It’s not totally accessible; some people hate it or don’t get him at all. But the ones that do love him.
Mr. Milonakis made nearly 70 short films before “Super Bowl” took off. He was somewhat perplexed by its success.
“I think it’s probably more mainstream than a lot of my things,” he said. Then he stopped himself. “I’m talking about my stuff like it’s this amazing art,” he said. “They’re these retarded videos. I wake up, have my messy hair and get a guitar that I don’t know how to play and go crazy for 20 minutes.”
“Super Bowl” was not, as some have suggested, a protest against the usually dull N.F.L. title game, Mr. Milonakis said. As for the other items singled out for their gayness-coins, DVD’s, cologne et al.-most were just items he saw in his room as he was singing. “You can see my eyes wandering, looking for things to call gay,” Mr. Milonakis said.
As for the word “gay” itself, Mr. Milonakis said he mostly used it in the adolescent sense-e.g., That TV show is so gay -but there are parts where he clearly refers to homosexuality. He uses the epithet “faggot” at one point, and at another claims that “orange juice is gay” and that “orange juice raped” his father. Later on, he claims to like “ladies” and “penis,” then sings that he is gay himself.
It’s silly and confusing, and Mr. Milonakis seemed oblivious to whether or not people might be offended by the song. He wasn’t trying to provoke-it was just nonsense babbling, he said. “I wish some of the stuff I did had more meaning,” he said. “I feel like an idiot.”
Mr. Milonakis put the video up on Super Bowl Sunday itself. He got a couple of compliments; then a few weeks passed. In mid-February, he noticed a posting on a message board that said: “Hey Andy, your ‘Super Bowl is Gay’ video is circulating the Internet.'”
“So I looked at my stats,” Mr. Milonakis said. “And one day it was like 800 people saw it. And then the next day it was 8,000. And the day after that, double, and the day after that it doubled again. It kept exploding.”
It was the biggest success of Mr. Milonakis’ nascent comedy career. He’d been doing some stand-up and improv theater and taking comedy classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade, but suddenly he was getting loads of e-mail and doing radio interviews. Then he came home to Queens from a bar one night and saw an e-mail from Jimmy Kimmel Live.
“I was like, ‘Holy shit!'” Mr. Milonakis said. “‘I hope it’s not some spam e-mail: Come and see the Jimmy Kimmel show! ‘”
It wasn’t spam. Mr. Kimmel showed Mr. Milonakis’ video. The Web page got even more hits. Mr. Milonakis said he now owed more than $5,000 in “overages” to the company that provided his server. Offers were beginning to trickle in. Mr. Milonakis’ family, who’d wondered what he’d been up to with all those videos, was thrilled. “My dad’s like, ‘I watched your skit, but why do you have to say your dad is gay at the end?’ It was pretty funny,” he said.
“I’m so happy for him,” said Andy’s mother, Kathy Milonakis. “When you’re a kid and you look a lot younger, it’s not that easy. Kids can be brutal. But he seemed to come through it O.K.”
What did Mom think of “The Super Bowl Is Gay”? “It went waaay over my head,” Ms. Milonakis said. “I didn’t get it at all.”
As the attention continued, Mr. Milonakis experienced the tell-tale sign that he was getting big: People he knew started acting weird around him. Comics asked him to send stuff to Mr. Kimmel.
“Andy is exactly the same,” said Brian Lynch, his colleague at angrynakedpat.com and a writer whose credits include Scary Movie 3. “But I think everyone around him either got bitter about his success or wondered what it could mean to them.”
Mr. Milonakis called it all “overwhelming.”
“I’ve never been around anything like it,” said his friend, Mr. Appel. “He’s like the new dancing baby.”
Right now, Mr. Milonakis was just tired. The previous night, he’d been up until 4:30 a.m. He had an improv show that night. He’d been missing some work to do comedy. He didn’t like doing that. “They’re very understanding,” he said of his employers. “They’re really cool.”
“It’s been exciting, but I’ve been more stressed out than I’ve ever been,” Mr. Milonakis said. “Hopefully, that will change.”
A few days later, the phone rang and it was Mr. Milonakis. “I got a nice twist for you,” he said. “I lost my job.”
He was right; he had been missing too much time at the accounting firm. He said he understood. He said he actually felt bad for the guy who had to give him the news.
“I kind of saw it coming,” Mr. Milonakis said. “It’s kind of a big relief, because all this good stuff is going on, and I didn’t have enough time to devote to it.”
The day he got canned, he went to the check-cashing store, cashed his check, and bought a six-pack of beer and some cigarettes. “It just seemed like a fun thing to do,” he said. “Get a little drunk and smoke.”
That same night, around 10:30 p.m., the phone rang; it was the gang from Jimmy Kimmel Live . The show was 90 minutes to air and they wanted to run another one of his videos-one where Mr. Milonakis does a series of phony, nonsensical foreign accents-and they needed him to sign a release form.
He had to take a car service to a Kinko’s and fax the release form to Los Angeles.
“I got there and some asshole was complaining about copies,” Mr. Milonakis said. “I’m like, ‘C’mon, asshole-fuck your copies!'”
The fax made it through, and Andy Milonakis made it back to Queens in time to watch himself on national television for the third time in a week.