This article ties in to a podcast I recorded with Vic Berger, available here.
In a relatively short time, Vic Berger has made a very distinctive name for himself. His editing work for Super Deluxe, while inherently hilarious, has struck a chord with our times. It magnifies the subtle, showing us behind the curtain of celebrity, or presidential, facade. He has a talent for noticing the absurd moments that fly past, which he exaggerates to the point of truth. Often, this is the underlying appeal of his videos.
Their ability to make you laugh is merely a first reaction; a surface tension that quickly reveals a stark and confrontational depth. The creativity and craft behind Berger’s editing is often remarkably musical. In addition, much of it acts as the sharp satire we need in our current times of division. Technical proficiency shines in every corner, pushing the boundaries of what his medium can achieve. In balance with the humour, an innate discomfort permeates the atmospheres he curates. Despite widespread imitations of his Super Deluxe output flooding the internet, many miss the unsettling undercurrent he toys with.
Berger, and Super Deluxe in general, have been two of our biggest influences since Secret Cave began. Interviewing him on his career and philosophies was once a dream of mine. As such, it’s a somewhat surreal honour to present my conversation with him here as the first official edition of SCP3, our third season of podcasts. Click below to hear our complete talk on YouTube, which sees a number of topics discussed. From his history with music, and how it effects his editing, to the use of social media, political responsibility and more, it’s an episode that I hope his fans will find insightful. If you’d rather read than listen, scroll down for transcripts and further commentary!
One thing that many people may not know about Vic Berger is his history with music composition and production. It makes sense, considering that musical structure and approach are prevalent throughout his work. In fact, it was Berger’s songs that first gained him the attention of Tim Heidecker. It’s a passion that follows him, and has done for the majority of his life. At first, it was his only pursuit.
All block quotes in this piece are transcripts of Vic Berger’s words from our SCP3 episode
I thought I would have a career in music, or I wanted to have a career in music; ever since middle school. I went to eleventh grade, getting ready to look for colleges, and my parents took me up to Berklee College of Music, up in Boston, Massachusetts. It was known for jazz, but a lot of famous people started there and I thought, “Hey, I could do the same thing! I could be a producer”. I really wanted to be a Brian Wilson kinda guy, working in the studios and everything; cranking out the hits! Of course, the chances of that happening are very slim, but I went out there and I saw the studios that they had, that you could practice on and take classes, and it was amazing.
I was like, “Okay, I’ve gotta go here”, and my parents took all these loans out. I took loans out. My grandparents helped with the bills, ’cause it’s ridiculously expensive. I couldn’t get into the program I wanted to, because so many people wanted to do it and I’m terrible at interviews. I couldn’t get into the Production program, so I ended up finishing with a Songwriting degree. After that, I went back home and tried to figure out my life. I worked at, like, a beer store; minimum wage stuff. I had another job where I was doing maintenance and cutting grass, at a school in the area.
Then, I found out about this place that was a developmental centre in New Jersey. It’s an old institution. If you picture One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it looks very similar to that. I think the buildings were built around the same era; these big, subway tiles all throughout the whole place. So, there’s these people that live there 24/7, and then they need programming during the day. There’s severe, profound mental handicaps, so they need most of their basic care taken care of. There’s a lot that are on feeding tubes. So, my job there, I was considered a music therapist.
I would go into their day areas and hold sing-a-longs. They loved The Beatles, which is great because that’s my favourite band, and I would play Beatles songs with them. They could strum the guitar, beat on a drum or shake maracas or something. I did that for almost a decade, and I had a ton of great experiences there. I recorded three albums with the people that were living there, and we released it on CD. It was great but, like a lot of people in that field, you do get burned out. My last two years I was really burning out with what I could do with them, because the progress was very, very slow, if any. From there, I started to focus more on my music. I’d do music during the day at work, then I’d go home and write songs.
Eventually, that focus began to pay off. Around that time, Berger released music under the moniker of Vic & His Bad Self. Through that project, he was able to channel his songwriting instincts without any distraction or pressure. The results are a fascinating and joyous listen, made doubly intriguing by his current gravitation toward visual expression. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t Vic & His Bad Self that first caught the eye of Heidecker. His music was still the catalyst behind the ensuing collaboration, but it saw him launched into unfamiliar territory.
I was a big fan of Tim and Eric, and I started to get into On Cinema, which is Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington‘s web-series for Adult Swim. Something about it just really… I just loved it, I was obsessed with it, and still am! As a project for myself, when they would release an episode, I would watch it on my lunch break at work and then go home and write a fan’s reaction to the episode. So, it was very specific in-jokes and just based on that episode. I would write and record the song, then make a little video for it. I didn’t really know anything about video editing at the time, and I was really just making it up as I went along – I had very basic software.
The magic of Twitter… You can reach these people. I would tweet that to them. Tim really took a liking to them, which was pretty cool! From there he would retweet me, and I guess I was on his radar. After eight or nine songs, he asked me to edit something for On Cinema; a special that was coming up, their Oscar special. I had no idea what I was doing with the video editing, but I knew I could do it for the most part. I got a MacBook, the software and learned it in, like, two days as best I could. They sent me the footage, which was green screen (which I had no experience with), and then I edited it. Thankfully it worked out ’cause, then, that’s my new career! That was only a couple of years ago, so I’m still figuring it out.
In the wake of Berger’s transition into video editing, through On Cinema and Super Deluxe, his musical activities have slowed down. That’s natural and understandable, especially considering how prolific he’s been on YouTube. Nonetheless, the founding fires of his heart still rage. His songwriting ambitions seem, from my conversation with him, far from quelled. There’s still a future, and plenty of potential, in that creative wellspring.
I was always hoping there was going to be a rebirth of the Brill Building, where you get paid to sit in a room and bang out songs every day. That would be my dream!
I am gonna have an album coming out actually, on Flannelgraph Records. We just broke the news! Jared Cheek, from Flannelgraph, was a fan of my videos and he found out I had music. I’ve never released anything. Y’know, for years I would just record these things, maybe play it to one or two people and then it would just go on the shelf and you’d never hear it. So, he’s gonna press vinyl of twelve of my songs from the past fifteen years or so. That’s gonna come out around Christmas time.
Along with his upcoming album, we’ve been lucky enough at Secret Cave to get Berger’s permission to release a track ourselves. On the tape we’re sending out as a free gift to zine subscribers, you can hear Take Me Back. It’s also available on YouTube, and we’ll be putting it on our upcoming Bandcamp with the rest of the tape. I’m strong in the belief that his music deserves your time, so I was glad to hear how much it clearly still means to him. From his comments, the happiness he finds in it is obvious. It’s also a relief to hear that it’s a long way from being over.
That’s a huge part of my youth and, honestly, I miss the music. The path I’ve chosen… Y’know, working with footage that I don’t love; like, I work with Jimmy Fallon footage and things that piss me off. So, I’m trying to make something funny from things that I don’t like, which is kind of a weird thing to do but that’s the path I’ve chosen. Music was much more easy going, and you could sing about whatever you want; write songs about anything. You could stay positive. I guess I could do that with video too, but that’s not where I’ve landed.
I would like to, eventually, start using my own music in some of these videos but, the way I’ve done things, a lot of stuff is timely. So, I can’t spend the extra couple of days to orchestrate the music myself. I’ve resorted to just using stock music, and manipulating it the way I go.
People know my video stuff, [but] almost everybody doesn’t know that I had a music background. I would like to let people know that I do music too so, hopefully, that’ll be coming up soon!
Indeed, there are many ways that Berger’s editing reflects a musical mindset. At times, his vines evoke repeated riffs. Applying that thought process to his longer videos, he masterfully breathes melody into speech and visual patterns. Rhythmic, and at times percussive, elements meld with recurring motifs, such as Lori Bakker‘s detached “Wow”. This might be one of the keys to his success, offering a symphonic coherence to otherwise chaotic scenes.
There’s a rhythm to it and, I’ve noticed, the music helped me with building up momentum. It’s something in the DNA of the person, I guess. You’re subconsciously being effected by your background; I would assume that plays into it.
It’s kinda like a chorus, or even just a refrain. One edit I did, Trump Has No Chill At The 9th GOP Debate, I would bring back Ted Cruz bumping into the microphone; just, repeating certain things. I picked up a lot of that from watching Tim and Eric stuff.
Berger’s more literal use of actual music is also worthy of scrutiny. He pays a unique attention to the artists and tracks that score his editing. In particular, his series of Jim Bakker videos is all the more captivating and strange by the use of obscure stock music throughout. Intrigued, I followed the rabbit hole to discover albums like Tomorrow’s Achievements. Such collections of forgotten library compositions from hazy decades are an influence on other artists, like Boards of Canada, too. It’s refreshing to hear such reverence for these oddities, and it speaks to Berger’s affinity for detail.
I have all this old stock music that a friend gave me, ripped from vinyl. So, it’s all this stuff that you can’t get anywhere else. Years ago, I was really into all these old compilations of German stock music. I think they’re called Get Easy! compilations. There’s a French version, and there’s all this really cool stock music that just really interested me; thinking about where they would use it, how they would use it and the bands that were there. They didn’t know if their songs would ever make it into anything, but they’re recording interesting stuff.
So, I had this collection of music and I just used it. I came across all this late-70’s to early-80’s droning music, and I don’t have the rights to it or anything but I used it in these videos. It gets picked up by YouTube, they’ll put an ad on it and then they’ll get the money for it but, since I started working for Super Deluxe, I do have access to Turner‘s library. That has a ton of vintage stock and that’s where I am now, ’cause I have to use stuff that’s legal, that Turner‘s okay with.
I don’t just plop a track in, and then there it is. I will mess with it, and make it fit to the storyline and to the mood. A lot of times I’ll de-tune things, I’ll bring the pitch down, or slow it down or speed it up. I always add a ton of reverb to things. I think it just gives it that mood. It’s a huge part, and audio editing is what I did for many years, so I do pay more attention to that.
Surprisingly, Berger’s propensity to add small details to expand on the base of a video probably comes naturally to him. Before Super Deluxe gave him a plate to step up to, before even Heidecker noticed his talents, his earliest YouTube experiment showed clear signs of it. Little more than a short video of a ludicrously patriotic Jeep, a stronger context forms from the use of Chumbawamba‘s Tubthumping. It sums up the message simply, and without words, and it’s funnier for it.
God, I forgot about that! That was from my drive home, from when I was working at the developmental centre. I had a forty-five minute drive, or so; longer if there was traffic. I would see that guy all the time; just these massive flags all over the place! There’s a whole world out there, on the road, that’s just very… very bizarre stuff out there.
I just feel like I have to add a bit more; take a little extra time and then it kinda stands out, I think. If you give it a little more thought, or if you just add one more level, it changes it.
When consuming Berger’s editing, it’s easy to see how artful the discipline can be. Assumption may downplay its importance, showering credit on writing or direction instead. Editing offers a rewarding palette, and can drastically effect tone, pacing and even narrative. There are also many paths an editor can take, be it into film, the disparate alleyways of television or reams of other separate areas. Berger’s method of re-cutting existing material, and exploring its minutiae, contributes to his ongoing relevance.
It does become, almost, a form of writing. You have all this footage, and then you can change a storyline or make stuff up as you go, just through the editing. We just shot a thing, kind of based on what we did for the Election Special, and we’re still working on it now. Throughout the filming, the whole storyline was one thing and then, when we ended up editing it, we cut out a bunch of stuff and it’s a totally different feel than what we imagined going in. You can really change what you’re doing with the editing.
There’s just so much stuff in reality that I’m drawn more towards re-purposing real life footage, rather than the scripted stuff, because right now it’s important to figure out what’s going on in reality.
With the length of Berger’s videos rarely exceeding five minutes, they hold an easily digestible quality. This is something that keeps his releases trending. For me, it makes them perfect for binge-watching. I’ve often found myself caught in an evening-long web of Super Deluxe, and I know I’m not the only one. Because of this, it was shocking to hear that the opposite may also be true.
I’ve had people say that they can’t watch longer than, like, ten [to] fifteen minutes, because it drives their anxiety!
Under that lens, I see Berger’s point. Funny though they are, there’s a confrontational and terrifying edge to his edits that could make for a heady brew when prolonged. Yet, another of his projects is wholly off-the-cuff, pleasant and brief in the extreme. His sideline Twitter account, @VicFaceHoles, plays off a single concept. It retweets images that people send in of them standing by face-holes, apparently oblivious to their proper use. Though deliberately silly, there’s something intrinsically engaging in sharing a joke on a worldwide scale.
It’s just something that I did, not thinking of anything. I think we were on vacation in Maine or something, and I saw these cut-outs and had my wife take a picture of me as if I didn’t know what I was doing. Like, I didn’t know I was supposed to put my face in the hole, y’know? It’s this very dumb joke, and then I just put it on Twitter. People started sending them, I started retweeting them and now I get hundreds a month! Sometimes I miss a number of them, and people are like, “Why didn’t you retweet that one?!”.
It’s something anybody can do, and it’s harmless. It’s lighthearted I guess, in a way. It doesn’t have any political leanings or anything, it’s just… goofy. It’s cool that people all over the world are sending it in. I get some celebs sending some in; I had one from Bob Odenkirk. Actually, he sent two! Edgar Wright sent one in. It’s pretty crazy!
@VicFaceHoles represents just one of social media’s many split-personalities. Such online networks hide a dark underbelly too, which Berger has had to deal with on more than one occasion. As a heavy and influential personality on Twitter, he bears the weight of the responsibility that comes with it. In tandem, his comprehension of its nuances keep him an asset. As a steadfast warrior in the fight against bullshit, mostly from the alt-right, he’s as ruthless as he is entertaining. In the end, the negatives of using such platforms don’t discourage him as long as he sees a purpose.
It’s a dangerous thing. You can say something horrible in a second, and then however many followers you have will see that. Everything is permanent on the internet. You can misspeak, and then offend people when you don’t really mean to offend, or people can use your words against you; take you out of context. It’s not great, and I see why some people stay off of it and don’t wanna have that direct connection.
For a number of years, on Twitter, I just had fifty followers. I would just tweet songs I liked, or whatever. You don’t think, really, anybody’s watching, but people are. Over time, you’ve gotta be careful. I try to be careful, but I try to be honest too. Things that I don’t like, I’ll speak my opinion but, for a while, I was trying not to. I’m not super-partisan. I mean, I obviously lean left. I’m a liberal guy but, with politics right now, with [Donald] Trump in office, I don’t see it as a left versus right kind of thing; I see it as what’s good for humanity, and good for the country.
It’s lazy to conclude that Berger’s agenda, if he has one, is purely political. While it’s not a difficult assumption to jump to, his videos transcend any devoted liberalism. The defining factor of his targets is their own infallibility, and latent silliness. There’s a desire to trip up the malicious lies of con-men too, which is what gives teeth to his endeavours. Donald Trump isn’t so frequently in Berger’s sights for sitting on the right-wing; it’s his boisterous inhumanity.
Trump shouldn’t be there, because he’s not a Republican for real, y’know? So, I try to keep it in that tone, where I’m not hyper-partisan. I try to have my opinions. Like, if one of Trump’s policies hurts poor people, or whatever, that’s something that somebody on both sides should agree [on]; like, he shouldn’t be hurting people, with taking away their healthcare or anything like that. It just seems like it should be something that everybody would stand behind. So, I don’t mind speaking my mind on issues like that.
Even the conscientious side of Berger’s editing is secondary to the comedy. After all, that’s what initially hooks in his viewers. Beyond the wish to lampoon a figure who deserves it, his obsession with certain recurring sources is in their suitability for humour. In essence, people like Trump and Ted Cruz are asking for it. The former’s bonhomie, and the latter’s insincerity, are so pronounced that they invite parody and satire. Since cases like Trump and Cruz are so ubiquitous in the public eye, it helps that they provide a deep mine of raw material.
First of all, the footage is available. I need footage that’s out there, that I can manipulate and work with. So, when the Republicans were doing, like, fifteen debates with twenty candidates on stage, or whatever, that’s perfect material for me. That’s where I started to pick up some steam, with videos taking off through the Republican debates. There, I was just highlighting what was going on and putting it together in a comical way.
I try not to take things too far out-of-context, or to change their words, but almost everything that was said in those videos were said by these people and were only slightly highlighted; amped up a little bit, for comic purposes. I wasn’t trying to convince people that are supporting these candidates that they shouldn’t be supporting them, it was just something that I was working with. Obviously, I believe that Trump shouldn’t be president but I wasn’t trying to take him down, so to speak. I wasn’t doing hit-pieces, I was just highlighting the madness of it all.
Because of my anxiety that I have, some social anxiety, I think I pick up on these expressions and these facial ticks. You can read into these things a little too far maybe, but it’s fun to experiment with those ticks and highlight them, and see what they’re thinking. Are they lying? When Donald Trump says something, and his face distorts in a certain way, with his eyes looking a certain way, where it looks like he’s lying to me. Usually he is, ’cause that’s what he does. So, there’s some basis in reality there.
Like, if he says something and he makes that facial expression, I’ll slow that expression down a little bit so everyone picks up on it. I will zoom in on it to say, “Look at this! He’s lying!”; that kinda thing. I would do the same thing with the left if the material was that insane. I would gladly do it, and I’ve done a number of debates with Bernie [Sanders] and Hillary [Clinton]. It’s just not the same as these crazy people. Like, Donald Trump talked about his penis at the debate! What’s more insane, and better for comedy, than something like that? Two intelligent people, like Bernie or Hillary, are having a conversation about the good of the nation, or this madness? This reality game-show host…
For what I do, I want it to be comedy more than the politics. I always try to be aware of that, that I should be funny first rather than having the politics.
Behind the amusing visage, however, is an ever-present dread. As Berger’s talents, and the world around him, have progressed, a creeping gloaming has appeared in his commentary. He puts up a mirror to the reality of situations, showing us a distorted and farcical reflection. The carnival colours of his madcap political wonderland are a filter that assists our understanding of the truth. Fear is an inevitable product when dissecting the likes of Trump. Faithfully, Berger has been incorporating shades of terror into his edits since the feeling grew rampant in the public consciousness.
That came into place with Trump getting closer to the presidency, and actually winning it. That sense of dread, that I think most reasonable people felt, or should have felt… That’s where that came in, where I just wanted to put that in there musically and with the tone; setting the tone. I think that is important with Trump, to not be so playful with him, because he’s always been a joke. For the past thirty-five years he’s been a punchline. I felt like we shouldn’t just elect this guy, who has billions of dollars; who’s had everything handed to him his whole life and is just a horrible, self-obsessed person. We shouldn’t just have amnesia about the past thirty years of him being famous, with what he’s been known for.
That all comes together when he’s getting closer and closer to winning the presidency. I think that’s where the dread started coming in. One of the earliest ones, where I would use the droning, was Jimmy Fallon; where he pats Trump’s head. That is when it really hit home like, “Jesus man, we’re in a dark place right now!”. That’s, kinda, where it all started.
Around that time, I had a switch of thinking that, “We shouldn’t take him for granted”. In my editing, you can have him do goofy things, but just remember that there is a reality and he could be president; now he is president.
The inauguration of Trump was an unprecedented horror-show. Nowhere is anxiety more definite than in Berger’s rendering of the event. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the only times that he’s put humour on the bench to defer to the sheer shock of the moment. As a result of that daring move, it ranks among his finest videos. It watches like a nightmare, made doubly appalling by keeping an entire foot dipped into an inescapable realism.
I worked with that for, probably, two weeks, and it got to a point where it’s like, “I don’t know…”. It was just so dark, and his speech was so dark on its own! I just felt like there’s no humour, really, right now about this. Then I powered through and got it done, but that one took forever for me to complete; just for my personal reasons and [the] shock and horror of seeing him take the oath of office. So much madness around that…
With Berger repeatedly using footage of Trump in unflattering ways, and @mentioning him often on Twitter, I wondered if he’d ever received any direct contact. To me, Trump seems a touchy and sensitive beast. I didn’t think it implausible that, at some point, he might bite back. That would make for some compelling Twitter scrolling, but it’s unlikely to happen. Yet, in the past, some telling interactions between the two saw Trump – predictably – make a frivolous fool of himself; albeit in a distant and detached manner.
Years ago, before he threw his hat in the ring (when he was considered a joke by everybody), I did this thing called Trump 4 Prez. It was an Instagram account. It was very stupid; actually on Twitter too. I would Photoshop some stupid image of Donald Trump and slightly change it, like, make his eyes smaller or make him oranger; just make it so you look at it and there’s something off about it.
So, I would have this dumb picture, then I would put a compliment in the tweet and tweet it to Trump. You know, it would be like, “I hope you run for president! You’re the greatest! We need you. Obama stinks!”, or something like that. Then he retweeted me like four of five times, ’cause he would see the compliment. That’s all he wants, a compliment, and he wouldn’t look hard enough at the image.
He did that a number of times, and then he started getting “smart”. He would manually retweet me, but he would take my compliment and remove the picture. So, then, he would just retweet my compliment! Like, “Why?!”. Dude, he’s nuts. He’s a clown. Eventually, he got my Trump4Prez account shut down; for bullying. That’s what they said, I was bullying him! Bullying the bully; okay. So, he shut that down then he became president…
A number of his staff have blocked me, like Dan Scavino. He is like Trump’s old golf caddy, from back in the day, but now he’s his social media expert. He’s the one that edits all the crazy videos that they put out, where there’s these slideshows and these quick zooms into things. People send them to me; they’re like, “Ah, I see you’re working for Trump now!”. They’re just these quick, fast zooms into the back of the room. There’s no thought process behind in it, it’s just so funny.
He blocked me; all of Trump’s sons blocked me. From [Trump], no [direct contact]. For some reason I haven’t heard from him but, with the amount of stuff I’ve sent him since he’s been president, I’m sure he’s watched a number of it. I noticed he started blocking a lot of people, so I think he must have me muted or something. You’d think, by now, he would have blocked me. Every video I put out, I always tag him! Or, he just wants to keep an eye on me…
Though Trump has learned to keep Berger at arm’s length, other prominent members of the alt-right have been vicious in their ripostes. Chief among them was once Mike Cernovich, whose accusatory abuse of Berger was a marvel to behold. Labelling Berger a “creepy guy”, Cernovich was both cruel and presumptuous in his actions. His assertions were too crude and disgusting for me to detail here but, of course, he was eventually proven wrong. Regrettably, the ordeal wasn’t so simple for Berger.
He knows he’s not gonna convince anyone anymore of all those accusations, that there’s any truth to it. Nah, there’s nothing with him and me. I wish I could go back in time, ’cause there are like two weeks where I thought something bad was gonna happen to me. It was soon after the Pizzagate thing, where a guy shot up a pizza parlour because of Mike’s rhetoric. Then, what he did to me with that, with the smear campaign and sending all his hundreds of thousands of followers at me, sending death threats and everything… There was a time when, yeah, I couldn’t work. There was two weeks where I was seriously scared, not knowing what was going on. Every time the doorbell would ring, I’d be like, “Who’s that gonna be?”, you know?
It really did ruin two weeks or so of my life. I couldn’t work and everything. I wish I could just go back and say, “Well then, if you really believe this stuff then call the cops. Call the police, then leave it in his hands, or just go away, ’cause there’s obviously nothing there”. If anybody gets smeared by Cernovich, just say, “Call the cops then, man”. That’s all you have to do.
He does this. Every two years or so, he changes who he is. A long time ago, he was this guy who’s, like, a lawyer; even though he’s never been in court, arguing a case, or anything. From there, he went into [being] this men’s rights advocate. Then, he was a health expert; motivational speaker kinda guy. Then he went into Gamergate, whatever their story was, I’m not even all up on that, and then he moved to Trump; he’s this pro-Trump guy. Now, he announced he’s not pro-Trump anymore! He’s a “journalist”. So he goes through these phases, and it’s all about promoting himself. That’s all it is. He will smear people along the way, and anything to raise his profile. He’s just a horrible dude; he’s a horrible person.
At the root of it, Cernovich and his kind are just opportunistic parasites. With Trump as a temporary figurehead, we can only hope that they’ll scurry back under the fridge when he leaves office. That’s not something anybody can say for sure but, at the very least, the idea is comforting. Will this presidency’s legacy be that of a nationwide whim? In the worst case scenario, the alt-right are here to stay; warping a once admirable democracy slowly into an isolated island of fascistic bile. If Berger’s predictions are right, that may only be a dystopian fantasy we’ll narrowly avoid.
Trump has raised up and shined the light on so many terrible people that are fringe, and these conspiracy theorists. Y’know, Cernovich, Alex Jones [and] all these other alt-right people… I mean, we [had] Steve Bannon in the White House! We have Stephen Miller in the White House; all these people that should have no right being at the forefront of politics and having their opinions out there. Just terrible people. That’s the worst part of Trump. I think, once he finally goes away, once he gets arrested or whatever… Once he gets kicked out of office, then those people will go back to the fringe and, kind of, be forgotten about. When you vote for somebody like Trump, that’s what you get.
I really don’t know what’s going to happen. I just have a feeling that Trump’s gonna make it through his four years, and then get voted out. The good thing about Trump, if there is one, is that I think it’s gonna energise people that don’t like Trump, or they’ll see that they’ve been conned into voting for him; for his own personal gain. Like, he lied to them. He conned them, and I think we’ll be able to, hopefully, find a way to come together, vote him out and move on.
He’s just dragging us back. He’s just taking us back in the progress we’ve made. The people that he’s appointed into office are just… He appointed Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education, so she’s in charge of public education but she doesn’t believe in public education. The guy that’s in charge of the EPA is a lawyer who sued the EPA like ten times! He doesn’t believe in the EPA, he doesn’t believe in regulations. He doesn’t believe in global warming! So, there’s a lot of damage being done, behind-the-senes that we don’t see, that hopefully we can recover from eventually.
I know these Trump kind of characters have been showing up throughout the world, that are running for office. I think, though, that the people are thankfully seeing the damage Trump’s doing, or that he’s done. Nothing that he’s promised is really being done. So, I think that will hopefully squash some of those issues, those candidates. I don’t know exactly where we’re going in the world.
Outside of politics, there’s much about modern culture that can be confounding and alienating. Social media gives us power, inspires our creativity and connects people on a worldwide scale. Its capacity as a force for good is extraordinary. What’s bizarre, then, is how regularly it sees corruption. At a more reductive level, it can reveal some of our collective preoccupations to be the diminutive wastes of time they really are.
I always go back to Fallon. Just, seeing how popular he is. I was scrolling through Twitter, and everything is about Trump’s crazy North Korea statement but, then, I follow Jimmy Fallon and he tweeted this video of him with Justin Timberlake and Billy Crystal, where they’re singing some 90’s song. It just seems so unimportant, but it’s so popular too! I don’t know where I’m going with this, but it just seems that we’re in a weird stage where a lot of people are paying attention to stuff that seems important, and a lot of people are just checked out, y’know?
At least, in my world, I do think that Trump has a big part of it. He is also the culmination of what we’ve gone through in the past twenty years or so. We’ve gotten to this point where, I think, a big part of his win was in reaction to having a black president for eight years and, also, the dumbing down of people; playing to the lowest common denominator. Trump was a reality game show host, where he pretends to be this powerful businessman who fires people and everything. That’s just where we are right now, and we’ve just gotta figure out a way to get through it. Hopefully we do somehow.
Whatever lies behind Berger’s drives, it’s a guarantee that he’ll construct something provocative. As it stands, there’s apparently enough material from his homeland to keep him engaged for some time. That said, could he extend his reach confidently to another country’s administrative gaffes? As a Briton, I’ve craved an edit from him featuring Theresa May (or more extreme British figures, like Nigel Farage).
People have asked me, but I feel like i’m not informed enough in British politics to do it. I just need to get a little smarter and read up on it more! I’m still trying to figure out American politics, y’know?
Admittedly, the appeal of Berger’s work would fall flat without the well-educated barbs he’s known for. It’s preferable that his founding passions inform his work, rather than some imposed expectation. But, where my country’s politics elude him, our comedy has had a lasting impact. It’s abundantly evident to what extent American acts, like Tim and Eric, have helped to shape his voice too. That much is unmistakable, but it’s how deeply he’s delved into British comedy that surprises me. In hindsight, the hallmarks of our traditional inflections are everywhere in his editing.
I think the first thing with Tim and Eric, for me, was A Vodka Movie; those three Absolut Vodka things that they did. That, just, totally changed everything but, before that, I was hugely obsessed with The Office; Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant‘s Office. Then, from there, I explored Look Around You; Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper‘s work. I imported all these DVDs, and I bought a region three DVD player so I could watch these things! I really liked Phoenix Nights. That feels like a Tim and Eric kinda thing. The characters that are in it are all people that you wouldn’t really expect to see on TV.
With so much ground covered in our talk, I only had time for one more question. On Super Deluxe‘s site, they host a section called Airhorns for America (in reference to his trademark sound effect). There, you can contribute blasts on a virtual airhorn to an ever-increasing tally. At one-billion blasts, Berger will make a “HUGE announcement”. Having spent several blasts myself, I was eager to ask him for some tease of what awaits in the wings.
Honestly, we’re still coming up with the announcement. We don’t have the final announcement ready yet, but we will have something when it hits a billion. I think I know what we’re gonna say, but we’re still planning that out…
On that note, Berger and I drew our conversation to a close. A pleasure and an honour, I left our recording with a grander appreciation for his videos and intentions. It was a privilege to get some background on his music, which I hope to hear more of soon. His wisdom on editing as art ties neatly into an ongoing arc I’ve been writing on the subject too, such as my dovetailing interviews with his contemporaries, Dominick Nero and Doug Lussenhop. For our first official SCP3 episode, I couldn’t conceive of a more appropriate guest.
Click here for Vic Berger’s Twitter, and here for his official YouTube account! Click over to Super Deluxe for more of his work.
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