Vic Berger, who goes by the moniker @VicBergerIV, is a video editor who has become an epicenter of some of the funniest, most inventive material on the Internet.
His Vine channel, where he manipulates real footage into surreal, nightmarish comedy, transcends the social media platform, and moves into a place of genuine art.
We caught up with Vic, and chatted with him about his amazing body of work.
Where are you based, and what do you do for a living?
I'm based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour from Philadelphia. I work for the recently launched Super Deluxe, making comedy videos. Typically, I take an interview or a segment of a TV show and edit it up to be slightly awkward and ridiculous. I always have trouble explaining what I do. Kind of have to see one of my edits to fully understand what I do.
Super Deluxe has some of the most talented folks involved with it and I'm really proud to be working for them. This is the first job I've ever had where I get paid to be creative and do what I love to do. Still surreal to me.
While your Super Deluxe videos have become very popular, your Vine has become a staple of current Internet culture; it's the way Vine was meant to be used. When did you start making these clips? And what was your first Vine?
I've only been using Vine the way I do now for a little over a year. I signed up for it a few years back and remember deleting the app because I got bored with it and I'd see the same kinds of videos over and over and all these annoying "Vine stars" and whatnot all the time. I didn't think there was much more to it. But as soon as I figured out that you could upload edited video, I tried it out again and got really into making these things.
I like that I only need to fill six seconds of space and then I can move on with my day. A typical video of mine can take days to complete, but I can make a Vine much, much quicker and get it out right away. I find many times these things have a greater impact because you are really only asking people to sit through six seconds of something. I sometimes like using Vine as a way to try out new things and experiment. Also, when I find something that might not deserve a longer form video for Super Deluxe, I end up turning that into a Vine.
How do you make these Vines?
Making these Vines always begins with finding the right footage to work with. I'm always on the hunt for new material to edit, so once I find something in the news or on some show or wherever, I capture the video and then figure out what the funniest or weirdest parts are of the video and piece it together. Since a Vine loops endlessly, the most rewarding of them almost tell a story or have something new and interesting going on each second. A great example of this is my favorite Chubby Checker Vine. It's the one where he has audience members on stage with him, and he assists an old man with a cane to the front of the stage so he can dance; there are so many things going on one after the other around him that you can watch it over and over and always see something new. They're definitely not all this magical, but this is the kind of Vine I shoot for.
You have a few go-to stars of your Vines, GOP, Evangelists, and Jimmy Fallon.
Well, I have to go to where the material is. Being an election year, there is an abundance of political footage out there.Since there are so many Republicans in the race, they're all trying to set themselves apart from one another. They all want to prove how cool and relatable they can be to everyday Americans. I love working with footage where they are clearly pandering. My favorite of this type of thing is when Jeb Bush puts out his #JebNoFilter videos where he does things like use Uber or put on a hoodie or list off Apple products that he uses. He's such an awkward guy to begin with, but when you show him in these forced situations, it makes for the best Vine; I only have to focus in on the weirdness.
Other than Jeb Bush and the other lovely people running for President, I enjoy working with Jim Bakker, Emeril, Sammy Hagar, Jimmy Fallon, Mike Love and lately I've been working a little with this exorcist named Bob Larson. He's pretty crazy. He holds these conferences where if you think you are possessed, you can go and Bob will get rid of the demon for you. It's hilarious how he does it, though, because he slams these people in the head and back with a Bible and jabs a big cross into their bellies and argues with the demon. Bizarre stuff. Oh, he also performs exorcisms on Skype for 300 bucks. Which, I guess that means you can get rid of someone's demon without slamming a Bible onto their head!
Since I have a young daughter, we've been watching lots of kids movies and shows. She's obsessed with the movie Beethoven, about that dog. And she loves Gumby and The Wizard Of Oz, so that has stuff has been making it's way into my Vines. A little nervous about her reaction when she gets old enough to look at my Vines and see some of the weird stuff I've down with her favorite characters!
Who's your favorite person to "work with?"
My favorite person to work with by far is Chubby Checker. Most people have an image in their mind of what Chubby is like. They think he's this kind old man who went on TV now and then, and got everybody twistin'. You just have to dig a little deeper and you'll see a whole new side to Chubby. And it's darker than you'd imagine!
I mean, I think he's mostly harmless, but he definitely walks a line when he's dancing with these women on stage, and during interviews where he teaches the dance moves. Usually, his pelvic thrusts are a little too close for comfort, and he has been known to slap many a women on the tuchus as they exit the stage. And he believes he deserves a Nobel Prize for what he's done for music, and believes he hasn't gotten enough credit in the industry, so he's super bitter and isn't afraid to let you know.
Is there something about Fallon specifically that makes for great material?
What's great about working with Fallon is he always has new guests on, so there's a variety of material to work with each week. I should say that Jimmy seems like the nicest guy, and sometimes I feel bad adding him into the mix, but I get annoyed how he allows his show to be a platform for awful politicians to paint themselves however they like. Romney and Jeb and Christie and others go on the show and crack jokes about their scandals and the terrible shit they want to do to people when they get in power, but Jimmy just lets it happens and laughs about it. He works with them to try and humanize these monsters and I find it really offensive.
I think Jimmy is eager to be friends with everyone and not ruffle any feathers, so when something might be uncomfortable for him, he nervously laughs and doesn't really know what to say; that plays into my editing. Lately I've come across these uncomfortable moments of him sniffing some weird porcupine on the show, or sticking his thumb in John Stamos' mouth. So I've taken those and drawn them out to make really weird and uncomfortable Vines.
Your incredible Bill Cosby on Fallon Vine (and the extended Super Deluxe video) feels like a conjuring of some ancient evil. How did you come up with it
Thanks! My buddy who is an editor that goes by the name Todd Dracula sent me these segments of Cosby on Fallon and suggested I work with them. They're pretty weird on their own, and Bill seems on another planet and he's doing his typical Cosby thing. I think with all the awful allegations in the air now--and considering his age--it felt very odd to watch now.
I have an eye for picking out these absurd moments that pass quickly, so I noticed this one spot where Fallon is tapping his Sharpie holder on his desk. Why he has a Sharpie holder filled with twenty sharpies is beyond me, but he does have it on his desk. He taps this thing a few times and as he's doing it, Bill is standing and has his back turned to Fallon and his eyes are rolled up in his head like he's possessed or something. That moment really only happens for maybe a second and a half, but I ended up stretching it out for the full 6 seconds to make a Vine. And then last week for Super Deluxe, I turned that little piece into a full video that ended up feeling like an awkward nightmare.
Who are the celebrities that don't require much manipulation to become nightmare Vines?
The first one to come to mind is Trump. That guy is such an asshole. He's scary in his own right, but with a little video manipulation, you can make him frightening yet funny. A good example of that is the one where he's talking about getting rid of freedom of speech.
There's also one where he picks up that kid and gives him a kiss and lets him say hello on the mic, but I had him slam the kid down real hard at the end.
Ted Cruz is equally, if not more, frightening than Trump. But it takes a little more work to make him funny. Rick Perry was another "good" one. I remember being almost sad at the time when he left the race. I knew there would have been many more frightening Vines to be made!
People always get on me about not working with the Democrats as much. Believe me, when they start doing stuff that is anywhere near what Cruz and Trump are doing, I will be jumping on it. There's just WAY more material coming from the right. When Sanders uses a machine gun to cook bacon as Cruz did, I will be the first to make a Vine from it!
Who were your comedy heroes growing up? And your favorite comedians/artists today?
Growing up, I was a gigantic Weird Al fan. His early records were a big influence on me. Also loved UHF and this fake documentary he put out called The Compleat Al. Don't think that is available anywhere these days. He also used to do these interviews on AL TV where he'd take actual interview of someone like Paul McCartney, but splice himself in as the interviewer. I love the work of Robert Popper and also Graham Linehan. And Peep Show is one of my favorite things ever; that and the original Office really made me love awkwardness in comedy.
I think that a lot of what I do is subconsciously influenced by that. Paul Reubens as Pee Wee was also huge for me as a kid. Obsessively watched Pee Wee's Big Adventure as well as the TV show. And I really loved The Smothers Brothers, strangely enough. Had all of their records. Always loved Steve Martin's albums, too.
Tim and Eric are my favorite current comedians. And they're my biggest influence on what I do nowadays. Along with Doug Lussenhop's editing, of course. Also, the collective Everything Is Terrible! has been making the greatest stuff for years, and I believe helped shape my view of the world. And Tom Scharpling of The Best Show is a top favorite. I found out about his call-in radio show in 2008 and became a huge fan. He talks about all the things I love as far as music and movies, yet knows that even if you love something, you can also poke fun at it. I mean, I'm sure he loves The Beatles like everyone does, but he will go off on a long rant about Ringo Starr not tipping servers and it's the funniest thing you'll ever hear. I love when a caller will mention something to Tom about a certain celebrity or song and then Tom will start "painting" and he'll go off on a hilarious rant and create something super funny. Everyone needs to listen to The Best Show. Can't say enough good things about it.
What other projects of yours do we have to look forward to?
I did a music video for Narc Twain that should be out sometime soon. And I have many more videos on the way through Super Deluxe. I have another Jim Bakker bucket video that I'm really proud of that should be out soon. There will be an edit of the upcoming GOP debate and probably of any other significant political event that happens. Probably more Jimmy Fallon stuff, too. Well, definitely more Jimmy Fallon. And if I can convince my producer, maybe a new Chubby Checker video!