The IRS 'Comedy' Video That Cost (You) $60,000
Here at Cracked, we go with what we know. For example, our daily site duties don't include guarding America's nuclear launch codes from the safety of our rampart-less Santa Monica office, or building federal highways in the shape of David Wong's head. But comedy sketches about the hidden Freudian symbols in Jurassic Park 3 and "15 Famous Kittens You Never Knew Possessed Telepathy"? Those are in our wheelhouse.
Narrator: PENIS PENIS EVERYWHERE PENIS.
So when Uncle Sam decides to muscle in on our territory and swirl his tricolor digits in our stew of mirth, a rebuttal is in order. A congressional investigation recently unearthed two IRS-funded sketch videos starring actual IRS employees. One was a 16-minute training video parodying Gilligan's Island, the other was a five-minute Star Trek sketch for a 2010 leadership conference, and both are utterly excruciating.
"NAH-mes?" What is that, Portuguese?
These videos wouldn't be noteworthy but for one thing -- together they cost the IRS a whopping $60,000. The Star Trek spoof sucked up the majority of the production budget -- you can watch it below. The plot and production values are comparable to Chess Now, New York City's infamous live call-in chess show, whose inaugural episode starred a screaming Eastern European woman who did not know how to play chess.
Imagine if Star Prick 2: Wrath of Dong held a casting call at your neighborhood Greyhound terminal.
The IRS claims the Gilligan's Island video saved taxpayers $1.5 million in employee education costs, which is well and good if you discount the fact that anybody who watches it forgets the third grade.
Look, we're not exactly shocked that the Internal Revenue Service squandered $60,000 in taxpayer money, as other government agencies have pissed away more money in more spectacular ways. But -- speaking as professional purveyors of Internet ha-ha videos -- we were totally confounded how the IRS burned most of that $60,000 on a Star Trek parody whose special effects are on par with those of a 35-year-old Italian variety show.
All government training videos should really look like this.
We asked Cracked sketch director/producer Adam Ganser to eyeball the IRS' sketches and break down where the $60,000 went. His first reaction? "Fucking wow." His second reaction was far more informative -- the IRS probably spent somewhere around $8,000 to $10,000 on the Star Trek set (as renting a sound stage with a professional crew gobbles money). For the Gilligan's Island parody, the IRS obviously paid in set design, what with the indoor sand and (what appears to be) custom-painted panels. Here's the rest of Adam's estimate:
"Maybe $10K to $15K or less for the two sets? And another $10K to $15K for crew (at the most)? My guess is they got taken by an editor and/or director in terms of costs. And they had to pay all their employees double/triple time to be in the videos."
"Hey look, it's Mustache Steve from the fourth floor! Man, we really spared no expense on this."
"There's probably a lot of employee-related costs that were managed by an accountant who doesn't understand production. They got ripped off somewhere. Maybe they overpaid everybody. As far as how much should have cost? could have easily made both of these for $15K total, or less. And we probably could have made both of these in a day to a day and a half."
So there you have it, IRS -- a little friendly bookkeeping from your pals at Cracked. Of course, we anticipate that our tax refund will now amount to a half-eaten granola bar that we'll have to split between the entire office, but that's a small price to pay for fiscal patriotism.
You can follow Cyriaque Lamar on Twitter.