"Worst Wedding DJ Ever": An Internet Video Sensation, Examined

work or shoot?In the past 24 hours, a clip entitled “Worst Wedding DJ EVER!” has crossed my transom multiple times, usually accompanied by an exhortation like “Too Funny!” or “OMG.” In the clip, some guy in an ill-fitting suit is inspired to use some… unconventional percussion while he’s leading a conga line through its motions from the stage. As with many funny videos that just happen to surface on YouTube, I had one important question: Was the thing real, or was it just stealth marketing for some TV show coming to a high-numbered cable channel this summer? I put my head together with Awl Internet Expert Miles Klee and we tried to figure things out.

Miles Klee: While I did spend a summer as a caterer of tasteless New Jersey weddings and could easily imagine this epic Phil Collins “cross-fade,” it seems clear to me that we switch from diagetic music to non-. You can see that our stardust emcee is clapping to a different beat, and the boob solo, while it should be heavily reverbed, doesn’t match up either.

Maura Johnston: I am guessing that he was playing, ahem, “bongos” along to “Conga” and the Phil was edited in later. But don’t you think the setup itself is kind of odd? Specifically, what DJ company would allow an employee to wear jorts in such a public way at a wedding??

Miles: Oh man, you’ve really only been to classy weddings, haven’t you. The ones where the worst thing that goes wrong is like two drunk ladies doing the Dirty Dancing routine at the end of the night while their husbands methodically consume all the untouched cake slices on Table 16? As far as I’m concerned this guy slapped a Kinko’s poster (featuring an oddly militant John Mccain ’08 star) on a podium and sold himself as a professional, then told his wife/girlfriend/familiar to stop by at the Veterans’ Hall to pick him up around 11pm because the reception would probably be over by then. Only, surprise, he got offered an extra $50 to keep the music going till midnight and she just had to wait around until such time as a) the party dies, or b) she can be used as a prop.

Maura: Oh God, that makes so much sense! And yet… and yet. Part of me still wonders if it isn’t some sort of viral video ad for, say, an upcoming Comedy Central project, or a Party Down spinoff about hapless DJs.

Miles: Yes, I was instantly struck by parallels with the infamous wedding singer scene from Old School, right down to the goatee, at which point I felt I was tackling a chicken-or-the-egg problem.

Because part of what makes that Old school scene great is the knowledge that spectacularly bad wedding singers/bands/DJs do exist-I might go so far as to say comprise a tyrannical majority?-and that probably one in particular was the inspiration for that timeless rendition of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart.” But I think this inkling has more to do with the video’s fairly ingenious editing, which, wow, I had forgotten what slo-mo is for.

Maura: I’d totally forgotten about that scene! did you know that the Glee version of Total Eclipse is No. 16 on the Hot 100 this week?

Sometimes I wonder if any videos like this can be real at all. Although obviously some of them are! Like the “Kid Sings ‘Paparazzi'” clip from earlier this week, which in 48 hours went from 19,000 views to something like 8 million, on the local news after American Idol last night, the kid’s getting advice from Gaga on Ellen, etc. I guess there were just a bunch of odd details that didn’t add up — like, why would someone have chosen that moment to tape that part of the wedding? Maybe it was a videographer who was being paid to shoot the whole thing, but in this economy would someone really jeopardize his job for lulz?

Miles: My experience with Glee begins and ends with me cringingly buying one of the CDs for my little sister this past Christmas, and I will never speak of it again. But as to the video’s origin, my theory is: There was no professional involved. Instead the only relative who owned a camera was tasked with recording whatever they could. This person then got drunk and forgot to record anything, remembered toward the end of the festivities that they were supposed to, grabbed the nearest geeky-looking wiseass of a nephew and ordered him to get some footage.

At least that’s how they do it in my family.