What's it take to write the perfect YouTube comment?
Try leaving the caps lock on. Then throw in a dose of bad grammar, write a few "shits" and a "fuck" or two in the middle. When applicable, drop the N-word at a most inopportune moment. Support the hell out of Rep. Ron Paul. Don't forget to mention that 9/11 was an inside job.
Those are the instructions put forth by 27-year-old Erik Hoffstad, a self-proclaimed "lazy piece of shit" who writes Web content for FX during the days and trolls YouTube like a drunk teenager at night. As the defiant personality Internet Comment Etiquette, Hoffstad excels in celebrating the filthy, troll-filled cesspool that is a standard YouTube comment thread.
"YouTube comments have always been hilarious," Hoffstad told the Daily Dot from his home in Los Angeles.
"The attitude that people have when they're anonymous is such a strange look into how people act compared to how they talk. You can't tell who anyone is who's leaving these comments. They just take the first thing that comes to mind and throw a couple F-words in there and say something racist and, boom, they've got themselves a comment that stays on the Internet forever."
It's a simple science, one that Hoffstad first turned his attention towards in 2009. That’s when, dressed like a just-skipped-class college student in his darkened bedroom, he fired his first comment at a YouTuber who wanted to teach his viewers how to roast a chicken.
"Hey, nice chicken recipe asshole!" he typed in the video. "You really know how to cook even though your a retarded fuckpile of vaginas. go roast these nuts in your mouth at 300 degrees and then we can talk about how you messed up the garnish. 9/11 was an inside job. aaaaaaaaannnnnnnndddddd fuck you."
Since that fateful night, Hoffstad has left comments for everybody from Jenna Marbles to Mitt Romney. He drinks Coors Lights in one video, slugs Jameson whisky in another. In the "Talking to Politicians" episode, Hoffstad goes so far as to insinuate that he's writing his comments with his testicles.
"The character in Internet Comment Etiquette is this guy who sees that there's a need for lessons in this area of Internet culture and feels that he's the one to provide them," said Hoffstad, a new syndication partner with the Daily Dot. "But at the same time, he's the same asshole as everybody else who's leaving these terrible comments."
Hoffstad equates Internet Comment Etiquette episodes to roasts, ones in which the jokers don't bother to leave the gloves on. He's hating, sure, but that hate's founded in humor, and he can generally understand why the videos he watches have a certain mass appeal.
"You have to dig really deep and pull out all of their shit, but it has to be funny for them as well. You can't just tear into someone or else you're yelling at them. There needs to be a small level of respect where you get what they're doing and can still find a way to make fun of it."
It's with that finite set of parameters in mind that Hoffstad trolls YouTube looking for suitable subjects. Commenting on Marbles succeeds, to a certain extent at least, because the blond vlogger knows that her constant sexualizing is what helps make her the most-popular woman on YouTube, Hoffstad said. By contrast, ranting on Ray William Johnson, the site's most-subscribed-to personality, wouldn't work; there's just not enough to work with.
"You've got to give that guy credit, but at the same time, his videos fucking stink," Hoffstad said. "I've tried to watch them before to see if I could do an episode on him, but they're too boring for me to even make fun of. It's just him in his stupid comic book room talking about stuff you're going to hear no matter what."
The key is finding a nice little mix between the videos he likes and the videos he understands why other people like.
"I don't want to be overly mean,” Hoffstad said.
“I don't want to glorify hatred. I just want to make fun of the average IQ of a YouTube commenter and make it a joke that that's the way you have to leave a YouTube comment. You have to say the N-word, and you have to say that something sucks."
And don't forget: #RonPaul2012
Photo via YouTube