Photo: Lonelysandwich on Vimeo
Making the jump from obscure Internet-nerd fame to broad, mainstream recognition is a tricky task. Few have done it, and there’s no clear path.But it’s been a long time since we’ve seen someone as promising (and just plain funny) as Adam Lisagor, who goes by “Lonelysandwich” online.
So we’re calling it now: Remember this face and voice, because we think you’re going to see a lot more of him.
Lisagor is a 32-year-old from L.A. who used to edit TV commercials and work on visual effects for movies.
But over the past few years, he’s become a sort-of Internet cult star. He’s a popular guy in the Mac-geek circle, on Tumblr and Twitter, and via his work with the entertaining “You Look Nice Today” podcast.
Lisagor started working for himself a year and a half ago, he tells us, making “small, palatable videos, like commercials, for companies involved in tech, to figure out how to convey the essence of their products in concise, accessible ways.”
He’s also spending more time in front of the camera lately.
Recently, Lisagor has appeared in videos explaining how to use Square, the mobile credit-card product launched by Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey. He’s also the supporting cohost in “Put This On,” a slick web video series about “dressing like a grownup.”
His dry, smart humour and deep, muffled voice are especially memorable. We anticipate we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
Click here to flip through some of Adam Lisagor’s greatest video hits → (or read on for more)
We got a chance to chat with Lisagor via email about what he’s working on and some of his favourite videos. Here’s our Q&A:
SAI: Where are you from originally? (Do you still live in LA?)
Lisagor: I grew up in Camarillo, CA, a suburb roughly 45 minutes from LA. Perhaps you’ve heard of our outlet mall, or our former state mental hospital.
After 6 years in NYC for school, I moved back here to the Silver Lake area of LA seven years ago and will probably stay for a while. LA has a perfect climate and lovely, laid-back people who tend not to take themselves too seriously. So if people have a problem with those things, they would probably do well to avoid LA (he says, with defensive pride).
What’s your day job? (Do you still have one?)
Up until a year and a half ago, I’d been working as an editor of TV commercials and a visual effects compositor in movies. But working on stuff generated by other people was taking me in a direction I didn’t see making me all that happy, so I took the leap that people often remember having taken as the best decision they’ve ever made, and thus far, it’s been exactly that.
So the best way to describe what I do full-time now is I make small, palatable videos, like commercials, for companies involved in tech, to figure out how to convey the essence of their products in concise, accessible ways. I’ve always had a fascination with technology and its implications. In a way, I think my love of filmmaking developed as an appreciation of the tools used to tell stories. It’s not something I knew initially, but in retrospect, it makes sense to have unfolded that way. Plus, I don’t have the mental capacity for storytelling in the long form.
Have you ever considered a career on-camera?
No, I can’t say I’ve ever considered being on-screen as a career. As an adjunct to a career behind the camera, sure. Sometimes, if you’re crafting a message in your own voice, it makes sense to tell it that way. It could be that I’m not comfortable yet enough to work with people to adapt the message as surrogates, or maybe I’m just a control-freak and a ham. In the case of Square, I intended to have the people of Square (CEO Jack Dorsey, for instance) tell the story of their product. But Jack had seen me acting as spokesman for Birdhouse, the iPhone app I did with my partner Cameron Hunt, and he said, “No, I want you to be the guy”. He liked me in that role, and I was taken aback, flattered, and ill-prepared with a beard trim or a haircut. But it worked out. Why? Do you know a good agent?
What’s your favourite web video that you didn’t make?
One of my favourites of all time is Gabe & Max’s Internet Thing! video from a few years ago, the premise of which is two clueless schmendricks trying to sell you a videotape that will teach you the rudiments of using the Internet. It’s one of the first, most beautifully authentic lo-fi reproductions of bad VHS aesthetic applied to hi-fi concepts, and to this day when the new mail tone goes off, I think “Bing bong you’ve got your emails”.
But I think I’ve never laughed harder than the famous TechTV clip where the old antique collector guy is showing off a vintage wax cylinder museum piece and it crumbles in his hands and he lets out an expletive in the most wonderfully desperate, dispirited way. I’ve heard it may have been a put on, but that doesn’t make the tears streaming down my face any less real.
And anything from the shred series by St. Sanders. Notably, Rolling Stones “Start Me Up”.
Any other news? Projects you’re working on?
You Look Nice Today just returned from a magical weekend at MaxFunCon, where we did a live podcast that was just a whole lot of fun to be a part of, so we’ll be putting that out very soon. There are five more episodes planned of Put This On, the men’s style show I do with my partner Jesse Thorn.
And in the meantime, I’ve got a slew of projects lined up with innovative tech companies out there who have seen my work and have been gracious enough to contact me for help telling people why their products are wonderful. I like to think that I’m able to do this because I think slowly enough to notice the exact points while using a product at which I respond with the most delight. And if I can reproduce those moments on-screen, without explicitly saying that they’re delightful, an audience will intuitively understand the delight they might feel themselves.
'The Noises Rest', a mockumentary about silent film for MoMA starring the 'You Look Nice Today' crew
Bonus: One of Lisagor's favourites (and one of our personal favourites, too), the famous TechTV blooper
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