Guidos gone viral

Mike Tornabene, left, alumnus Gian Hunjan, right, are the co-creators of the “Dom Mazzetti” YouTube videos. Tornabene portrays a Jersey Shore-esque guido, fueled by alcohol and hormones. | COURTESY DAN PRAKOPCYK
Mike Tornabene, left, alumnus Gian Hunjan, right, are the co-creators of the “Dom Mazzetti” YouTube videos. Tornabene portrays a Jersey Shore-esque guido, fueled by alcohol and hormones. | COURTESY DAN PRAKOPCYK
Mike Tornabene, left, alumnus Gian Hunjan, right, are the co-creators of the “Dom Mazzetti” YouTube videos. Tornabene portrays a Jersey Shore-esque guido, fueled by alcohol and hormones. | COURTESY DAN PRAKOPCYK
Mike Tornabene, left, alumnus Gian Hunjan, right, are the co-creators of the “Dom Mazzetti” YouTube videos. Tornabene portrays a Jersey Shore-esque guido, fueled by alcohol and hormones. | COURTESY DAN PRAKOPCYK

Freshmen, the economy, Four Loko and drunk girls — nobody or thing is safe from Dom Mazzetti, the YouTube “guido” personality that has gone viral in college circles for taking on the college lifestyle and producing raunchy quotes repeated at frat parties up and down the Eastern seaboard.

Mazzetti, a college dropout of at least a half-dozen universities from Virginia Tech to UConn, struggles with women, his mother, commitment and mixing up his lower case “b” and “d” letters, among other things.

Clad in a white T-shirt reading “justice,” Mazzetti spends his weekends on alcohol-fueled rampages with his crew, Smush, Juice and J-Skrillz, all desperately attempting to woo women of questionable age and sobriety.

With more than 32 million views on 56 videos, Mazzetti’s fanbase has grown to love the immorality of YouTube’s viral sensation, whose rise to comedic stardom can trace its roots from the Jersey Shore to North Broad Street.

Gian Hunjan, a 2010 graduate of Fox School of Business, and Mike Tornabene are the show’s creators, writers and actors. Tornabene, a tall and muscular “Jersey Shore” character look-a-like, plays the show’s degenerate protagonist, while Hunjan, shorter in stature, is mostly heard as the inquisitive voice behind the camera, and is in several cameo shots.

Hunjan and Tornabene met in second grade in Clinton Township, N.J., where the two grew up. Years later, while working together in a local restaurant, Hunjan said he and Tornabene began to realize their comedic inclinations, spending a lot of their time goofing around.

When Tornabene was studying film at New York University, he and Hunjan began to create the basis for their online videos. Beginning in 2009, the group began filming and releasing their first online sketches.

Starting with “The Intern,” a scripted show with a set storyline and more developed camera work, Hunjan and Tornabene set out to create a comedy show that depicted many of their own experiences working college internships. In the show, starring Tornabene’s father as a lazy and irresponsible boss who runs a business of an unknown nature out of his shore home, Hunjan plays the lowly intern who must complete mundane tasks such as cleaning dishes under the guise of business practice.

While the show’s following never attracted a base like the later “Dom Mazzetti” series, it served as the group’s first foray into online comedy, and shows the comedian’s natural talent of connecting with a select audience of college-aged students.

In their own college experiences at urban campuses in Philadelphia and New York City, the duo said they drew comedic material from friends who went to traditional party schools through posts on Facebook and other forms of social media.

“When you go to a [more rural school], you pretty much do the same thing all the time,” Hunjan said. “We didn’t have access to that, our college experience, being at school in the city, we were not always going to frat parties and stuff like that, so we had a pretty well-rounded outlet of comedy to gather, just on our day-to-day experience, because we had [a] little of everything.”

After graduating and moving to New York, Hunjan and Tornabene began developing the Dom Mazzetti character by attacking current events and trends such as the phrase “YOLO” or term “guido,” as well as broader topics like pornography.

A few weeks after their start, they released their second video “Dom Mazzetti vs. Four Loko.” After the episode, in which Mazzetti and his squad manic on the effects of the drink on the streets of New York, killing a panda at the Bronx Zoo and eating Chipotle, the creators saw their skit go viral.

In the past six months, both comedians have been working full-time on their online shows. The typical day, Hunjan said, consists of waking up early, occasionally to the effects of a hangover, followed by a gym session and a trip to Tornabene’s apartment to develop scripts, which they film and edit on the weekends and post online on Tuesdays.

“Having a YouTube channel, having a YouTube partner, it is your outlet, and it can become your job. So you don’t need to necessarily just get three gigs and a restaurant part-time to support yourself,” Hunjan said.

While the content and phrasing of “Dom Mazzetti” paints the picture of an unintelligent meathead, Tornabene, who graduated from NYU with a film degree, said his personality can get confused with that of his character when meeting fans of the show.

“It’s a complete alter-ego. I am not that forward or crude, crazy really, I’m a more reserved, soft-spoken person,” Tornabene said. “It’s a shock for some people to see.”

The “Dom Mazzetti”  show opened in the midst of a shore-mania created by the widely popular MTV reality program “Jersey Shore,” a sometimes controversial show following the lives of eight (nine throughout all six seasons) New York-area self-described guidos, as they drink, hook up and get arrested in Seaside Heights, N.J., Miami and Florence, Italy.

While Tornabene said the hype surrounding the show helped build the audience, both he and Hunjan said the satirical nature is what makes it so popular.

“There are a big amount that just want to hear us say funny things and talk about drunk stories,” Tornabene said. “But I think more people realize that it is satire as the series goes on.”

However, with the MTV show in its sixth and final season, Hunjan and Tornabene said they have prepared by making the character less one-dimensional. In episodes such as “Dom Mazzetti vs. Getting Hired” and “Dom Mazzetti vs. Résumés,” Mazzetti challenges through parody the corporate system, including making a résumé listing qualifications such as being a “Rollercoaster Tycoon,” two-term mayor of “Sim City” and being capable of running an estimated 12 mph top speed.

“Our character is New Jersey, Tri-State area type Italian, but we tried to make sure that it wasn’t the only thing we related to, so when the ‘Jersey Shore’ was gone, the show was done, that people still saw the character for something else other than that,” Tornabene said.

However, returning to New Jersey was the subject of their most recent video “Dom Mazzetti vs. Hurricane Sandy.” In the video, Hunjan and Tornabene use their popularity to promote charitable donations to the state through sandynjrelieffund.org, the American Red Cross, Restore the Shore, volunteering and donating to help victims of the storm.

While they have more than 130,000 subscribers to their YouTube Channel, neither Hunjan nor Tornabene said they see themselves as Internet celebrities, nor do they follow other online comedians.

As for their comedic influences, Hunjan listed Louis C.K., Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell and Woody Allen. Tornabene added that both were followers of Comedy Central stars Key and Peele and Dave Chappelle.

Looking toward the future, Hunjan said he would like to see the show develop for another three to five years. He and Tornabene said they see their future writing comedy for television or movies.

“Comedy is a lot about taking what’s funny and taking things that occur in life and recreating and using it again to tell a story, and finding ways of making use of observations and things that actually happened and using them to make a joke,” Tornabene said.

John Moritz can be reached at  john.moritz@temple.edu or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.

[Correction: The Temple News originally misspelled the last names of Gian Hunjan and Mike Tornabene. The article has been amended to reflect the correction.]

[Updated 11/14 2:54 p.m.]

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