Photo by Matthias Clamer-Bravo
Crafting the perfect meme takes a skilled eye, an offbeat imagination, and an undying love of all things furry.
Enter ICanHasCheezburger.com, one of the Internet’s largest humor publishers. It features thousands of images of cats, dogs, and, well, more as the cute and cuddlies dote on, plead with, sass, and ridicule their human companions. Sure, the images may get a chuckle standing alone, but overlaid with grammatical inaccuracies, these English-impaired felines have launched a marketing empire.
Cheezburger’s Seattle, Wash., headquarters is the subject of Bravo’s new workplace doc-com, LOLwork. It follows CEO Ben Huh and his noble team of eccentrics as they find the funniest stuff the Net has to offer.
As Cheezburger’s Content Supervisor, Will Sharick is one such "eccentric." He’s a diehard cat-lover who ensures that each upload provides the laughs without stepping on any paws. We caught up with the Mount Vernon native to talk cats, gays, and season highlights.
Out: So how did you first get involved with ICanHasCheezburger.com?
Will Sharick: Well I started with the company a little under two years ago, but I had been a fan of the website for awhile. I love the Internet; I love memes. It’s just something that I’m constantly involved with anyway in my everyday life. So I wanted to explore my options of employment there because thought it would be a really fun place to work. And I actually had a friend who was working there at the time who said it was a really great place to work, so I submitted my resume, and the rest is history.
In the pilot episode, Ben says that every CEO needs a Will. What’s that "something special" you bring to the table?
I definitely bring my opinion about everything and a sense of humor and a really strong work ethic. I’m definitely a hard worker, and I follow through on all of my projects. I think what he means by that is that he can always rely on me to get the job done, whatever the job may be.
What’s your favorite kind of content for the website?
I’m pretty biased to cat memes. I love looking at little cats, I love the kitten ones because they’re just so cute. Really, we’re just looking for something that really tells a story behind the picture. It’s our content editors who are in charge of monitoring the content and featuring it on the website. My role is more enforcing our terms of service and use and community guidelines are being upheld… just making sure that the site has fun, cute, and hilarious pictures on it—nothing disturbing that would upset some of our fans.
Is there some sort of dialogue between you and those who are making submissions? Is it mostly an anonymous email sending content over, or is there some sort of correspondance?
We do get emailed images and content submitted by people who wish to remain anonymous. Then we have a lot of what we call “Power Users” who engage with our content on a daily basis, and they absolutely love coming to all the different sites. Especially our cat content sites—we have a lot of great, passionate community members on ICanHasCheezburger. I know a few of them personally, as well.
We have one Power User who lives about an hour south of Seattle, and a trip home from Portland (where I was running a marathon), I stopped off at her house and had a beer and talked cats for awhile.
I do engage with our community. I’m always open to feedback and hearing what people have to say about what’s going on at Cheezburger’s headquarters.
You said that you’re a cat lover. Do you have anything against dogs?
I don’t have anything against dogs. I love all animals! I’m just a little bit… I don’t know. I think cats are a lot like gay guys. I think they’re just very poised and they like to groom themselves, and I don’t know. I just connect with them more, I guess.
I hear that there’s the “Lesbian Cat Wedding” episode coming up, and that you play an important role. How did that come about?
I have officiated weddings for friends in the past. I have never officiated a lesbian wedding before, or a gay wedding for that matter. I hope to do more, especially since Referendum 74 is on the ballot, and we’re hoping to get that approved in Washington. But this was my first lesbian wedding, and it was held in Seattle.
They’re a couple friends of mine, but they’re also Power Users of the website. So I know them both online and offline, and I just thought that it would be a really nice thing to have a ceremony for them. They thought it was great so we went ahead and did it. It was a lot of fun.
So what are you most looking forward to for this premiere season of LOLwork?
You know, there are so many fun things that I remember when the cameras were there following us around the office. There’s definitely some fun projects that we were doing that we will be showing on the website, so I’m looking forward to see how those turn out. So I’m really looking forward to that, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the lesbian wedding comes out. That’s probably one of the highlights for me that I can’t wait to see.
Cheezburger’s a really fun environment to work in, and I feel so lucky that I get to have a job that I love, that I’m passionate about, and that I can be who I am there and have the full support of everybody who works there. We’re a very tight community of people that work there, and we’re all very passionate about the Internet, humor content, and memes. It will be really cool to see that translate to the television show.
Watch Will and the LOLwork team in a sneak peek below: