Two students at the Christian school Liberty University put together a video mimicking the way different animals eat, and it became the 2013 top trending video for the U.K. and number three worldwide on YouTube with over 92 million views since April.
"There's too much humor now that relies on the crass and vulgar," Liberty University student Ian Deibert, one of the duo who put on the video, told local Virginia paper The News & Advance. "We've tried to keep it very clean and family-oriented."
He also mentioned his artistic influences – "Braveheart," "The Lord of the Rings," and "Gladiator."
In "How Animals Eat Their Food," Christian college student Nick Sjolinder acts out various animals' eating habits, from a cow burying its face in the food, to a T-Rex using useless arms to claw at it, to a rhinoceros stampeding into it. Sjolinder's crazy actions, matched by Deibert's calm responses, create the recipe for instant humor.
The video starts with a subdued dinner scene, Sjolinder and Deibert sit on opposite sides of a table – really cardboard boxes covered with a red sheet – eating food and drinking from sippy cups. "Wanna see how animals eat their food?" Sjolinder asks his friend, with a dead-pan stare. Deibert merely gazes at him with mild interest, but his friend gears himself up for the challenge, and declares "watch closely!"
What follows is one minute and ten seconds of non-stop hilarity. "Moo!" Sjolinder declares, proceeding to bury his face in his plastic plate of grub. Diebert merely continues chewing, gazing blankly at his friend. In the next scene, "alligator," Sjolinder throws his arms on top of his food, and then smacks them together like the jaws of a gator, disrupting the plate and sending his food flying.
As a lizard, the impersonator scampers up on the wall, then dives headfirst to the plate. As a Tyrannosaurus Rex, he waves his arms feebly before dipping down to devour, but as a whale, he utters a loud cry and then turns sideways to fall upon his food, smashing the table along with it. As usual, Diebert merely sits there bemused, continuing to chew his own dinner. Toward the end, Sjolinder stampedes into the table as a rhinoceros, pushing it and Deibert forcefully out of sight.
The pair spent only $20 on construction lights and creating a set for the video, but filming took four hours, Deibert told The News & Advance. Deibert graduated from Liberty this past spring and is studying online with a Hollywood school of visual effects. "Ideally, I'd like to work with one of the bigger companies like Pixar or Dreamworks," he explained. Sjolinder, meanwhile, is a senior studying film.
Deibert also told the local paper about the strange celebrity status this video has gotten him. "Companies will ask us to go work for them and make viral videos for them," he explained, but added "there's not exactly a formula." Liberty University students and high school students checking out the campus gawk at them, with "entire youth groups" finding the pair, to talk with them.
Sjolinder has turned this fame into profit, marketing t-shirts on his website, www.misterepicmann.com. He includes many variations for the opening scene, with the two men sitting across the table, preparing for the insanely hilarious.