Comedians need attention. Making sure that people pay attention is at least 75 percent of the job. For even the slightest bit of attention comedians will go to great lengths. One time I saw an open mic comic take off his pants to try and rouse a sleepy audience. It didn't work and for the next five minutes the man performed to a stone-faced crowd in his underwear. Another time I watched a comic smash pint glass after pint glass until a security guard hauled him away. I thought these examples were extreme until I was introduced to Brandon Scott Wolf. For the sake of comedy Brandon is trying to start a cult.
The cult is the latest of social experiments that Wolf has attempted. Previously he had set up the dating site Date Brandon Scott Wolf which landed him a mention on the Ellen Degeneres show. He followed that up by publicly challenging Floyd Mayweather to a fight on his website Fight Brandon Scott Wolf. For Follow Brandon Scott Wolf, the comedian's attempt at a cult, he has taken the experiment to a new extreme (though one that fellow comedian John Oliver has also marked.) Wolf has been portraying his cult leader figure both on and off line, committing to the bit in an often funny and totally weird blend of performance art and stand up. Recently I had the chance to speak with Wolf about his experiment.
VICE: Hi, Brandon. For the past two months you've been trying to start a cult . Why have you been trying to start a cult?
Brandon Scott Wolf: First and foremost it's important for me to clarify that my religion is NOT a cult. It's a legitimate religion. One that anyone can join by simply following me on Twitter @BrandonEsWolf. Now, I launched FollowBrandonScottWolf.com in order to spread the gospel. My gospel, my musings, and so far, even though it's a very real religion, one could say that I've built myself a cult following. I think that's where the confusion comes from. As we speak there are roughly 15,000 Followers of Brandon worldwide and as our numbers grow closer to 100,000 I will file the necessary paperwork to become a tax-exempt religion recognized by the United States government.
I do not think the United States Government is going to give you tax exempt status. Do you think the United States Government is actually going to give you tax exempt status?
Yes. I'm a comedian and television writer, but I founded a religion, a real religion, for the lost souls out there who want more from life and I'm thankfully here to give them what they want one tweet at a time. Not paying taxes will prove my legitimacy. It is definitely not meant to be viewed as a commentary on who does or does not pay taxes in my country.
Whether or not Donald Trump pays his taxes doesn't change the fact that tax-exempt status is the societal marker for religious legitimacy in America. To my knowledge Trump hasn't created his own religion. He just allegedly isn't paying taxes. If he started his own religion then I bet his detractors wouldn't be saying things like "Hey Donald! Why won't you show us your taxes?" and "Show us your taxes, you piece of shit!" My advice to Trump? Create your own religion. Anyone can do it. I'm not even the first Jewish person to make my own.
OK. Fine. What are the tenets of your religion?
I'm glad you asked. During my spiritual journey I went on a vision quest where I became one with nature and upon my descent from the mountain tops the universe provided me with two stone tablets. One was blank. The other said "Commandment #1: Thou shalt like AND retweet."
That's sort of dumb. Some people have viewed what you're doing as insulting to religious institutions. How do you feel about this?
As a semi-omniscient being I don't have all of the answers and, no matter how hard I try, I also can't control how others think. If you visit FollowBrandonScottWolf.com and think "This is a commentary on how people follow religion in general" then those are your thoughts and you can, and should, post about them on social media. If you think what I'm doing is dumb you should one hundred percent feel free to share that opinion with friends along with a link to the site. If there are people who are upset with the religion I created then maybe they should look inside themselves and ask "Self, why do I have anger in my heart for the nice comedy boy's religion?"
You've said that a number of celebrities are subscribers to your religion. Tell us about those subscribers and your interactions with them.
I don't have "Subscribers." They're Followers. Good and devout Followers. Some who are more recognizable include George Lopez, Lady Gaga, and former President Barack Obama.
As for my interactions with them, I've performed stand up on George's late night show Lopez Tonight, I frequently listen to Gaga's music, and I voted for Barack twice. We're all buds.
Unfortunately, it pains me to mention this, but I would be remiss not to. I recently had a high-profile Unfollower: Olympic speed skating sensation Apolo Anton Ohno. He left my flock after I gave him a "shout out" several weeks back, but I'm confident he will find his way home. We all miss you, Apolo. If you're reading this, come home.
Wait, Obama actually follows you?
Yes. [ Author's Note: I looked this up on the Does Follow App and apparently it's true. I hope this gets turned into an Infowars Investigation.]
Wow. Previously you've done other social media experiments. Do you feel like these previous experiments delegitimize your religion?
My other sites, DateBrandonScottWolf.com: The #1 Online Dating Site for Brandon Scott Wolf and FightBrandonScottWolf.com: The #1 Online Fighting Site for Brandon Scott Wolf, in no way delegitimize my religion. If you found out that the Pope made his own personal online dating site or that he challenged the pound-for-pound greatest boxer in history to a sanctioned match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada do you think that would delegitimize Christianity? I don't think it would. It's perfectly fine to have hobbies.
I guess if John the Baptist had Entomology you can try and fight a dude. How successful were the other campaigns and what were your favorite reactions to the previous experiments?
Over 1,500 people created profiles on my dating site and although it's difficult to pick a favorite reaction I absolutely loved when Ellen DeGeneres featured it on her show and was like look at what this weird guy's doing online. And now that weird guy is starting a religion.
Sure. What are you hoping people walk away with from your religion?
Daily content. All they have to do is Follow.
Graham Isador is skeptical of this whole thing. @presgang