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The man behind Pizza Rat responds to hoax claims

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Matt Little and fake rats

‘This is hilarious. Great job.’

What happens when you give the world free viral content that spreads joy far and wide? If you’re Matt Little, the man behind Pizza Rat, a Gothamist reporter will suggest you staged the whole thing.

On Thursday a Gothamist post by John Del Signore drew a through line between New York City’s recent flurry of viral rat content to the Upright Citizens Brigade improv theater, and a mysterious, rat-training woman who goes by Zardulu. 

Little scoffs at the suggestion his Pizza Rat sighting was anything more than a coincidental hit.

“[Del Signore] called me [Wednesday] and sent me the link [Thursday] morning,” Little told the Daily Dot. “He said he still believes it was faked and he wants to prove it. I was like, ‘This is hilarious. Great job.’”

Little is baffled and amused by the allegations, he said. In fact Little said he’s already addressed the notion that he staged a rat holding a slice of pizza, crawling down public stairs.

“I mean I put up a video addressing this [idea] the week [Pizza Rat] came out.”

Although Little said he created the videos independently, the article makes much of Little’s ties to the UCB. “I love that,” said Little. When asked to describe his affiliation with UCB, Little responded, “I don’t have any. I host a show there and do [a wrestling show called] UCBW but they’ve said neither of those shows merit inclusion on their performer’s page. I think it’s hilarious.”

As for Eric Yearwood, a UCB performer who did share his own participation in a hoax rat video with Gothamist, Little says he has no ties to him. “I don’t know who he is. It’s possible I met him before but when the reporter asked if I knew him I asked if it was the guy that owned pizzarat.com.”

The Daily Dot reached out to UCB Digital, the department responsible for UCB’s digital content for comment. Nate Russell, who oversees UCB’s Digital Teams gave this cheeky reply: “UCB is not behind these videos. But if we were, we would deny it.”

When asked if UCB Digital has any plans to create viral rat-themed content Russell responded, “UCB Comedy has plans to create both viral content, and rat-themed content. But we do not want any of our rat-themed content going viral for reasons we would not like to disclose at this time.”

As for Zardulu, the supposed puppeteer behind all this viral rat media, the only trace we could find of her is a Facebook page with three Likes. The page gives little clue as to the mystery artist’s true identity, or what she’s creating at all, but it is littered with cryptic posts like this one.

[Placeholder for https://www.facebook.com/Zardulu/photos/a.534910793351653.1073741827.534907150018684/543633202479412/ embed.]

The only evidence we have that Zardulu is exists is an appearance in the Gothamist story, and well, she didn’t say much. Zardulu told Gothamist, “I’m not interested in an interview and I’m not interested in the story.”

The national success of Pizza Rat has certainly inspired copycats looking to recreate the viral magic. Zardulu may have very well trained rats to act in them alongside actors. But for now, there is a lack of clear evidence that the infamous original was a fake.

Photo via Matt Little/Facebook | Screengrab via Matt Little/YouTube

Nayomi Reghay

Nayomi Reghay

Nayomi Reghay is a frequent contributor to the Daily Dot, covering body positivity, feminism, sex, relationships, and gender. She is also the author of the advice column “Swipe This!” A former New York Teaching Fellow, her writing has been featured in Reductress, Rolling Stone, Mic, Someecards, and more.