Think in the box

It’s probably a sign that something’s gotten really big when your 57-year-old mother asks you, “Did you see that video on YouTube?” With more than 10 million hits on YouTube, Saturday Night Live’s uncensored
version of “My D— in a Box,” a video featuring SNL cast member Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, is the definition of “big.” It’s even got its own Wikipedia entry.

And featured on that very Wikipedia entry is another big video – the female spin-off, “My Box in a Box” – which was created right here in Philadelphia. And it all started with a joking conversation about the SNL video between Temple junior Leah Kauffman and her friends.

“I didn’t think that ‘Box in a Box’ would be this huge – it’s a viral marketing
phenomenon,” Kaufmann said.

Kauffman is no stranger to music, and she likely wouldn’t dub “My Box in a Box” her greatest hit. She grew up surrounded by music, and now classically trained in piano and a self-taught guitarist, Kauffman spends much of her free time writing and playing her own songs, performing them when she gets the chance. When she came up with the idea for “My Box in a Box,” she took the idea to producer Rick Rube.

Rube, whose real name is Rick Friederich, is also a member of the Temple community – he recently graduated from the School of Communications and Theater with a BTMM degree.

“Rick is very professional,” said Kauffman
of her experience recording the vocals for the video. “When a client approaches him about their ideas, he’s open minded. We had a good time recording it together. I think he’s a genius, he can make a track out of nowhere.”

Once the vocals were recorded, the video-making process began – however, it would have to be a process that Kauffman was much less a part of. A journalism student, Kauffman is studying abroad in England for the spring semester, and had to leave before the project was completed. So the face of the “My Box in a Box” video, Melissa Lamb, was called in. Known to her fans as “Bunny,” the University of Pennsylvania sophomore lip-synched along to Kauffman’s vocals for the final version of the video.

After the video was posted to YouTube, it quickly began to spread, receiving over three million hits in just a few weeks. It even caught the attention of MSNBC journalist Keith Olbermann who interviewed both Lamb and Kauffman on his show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” via satellite. The girls used the show to explain the mystery behind the face and vocals of the video, and also announced that they were posting the video’s prop box on eBay.

The announcement paid off – literally – when the prop finally sold for $1,525, which the girls donated to charities such as VH1’s “Save The Music” and local charity Philabundance.

While she’s grateful for her success, Kauffman doesn’t let it get in the way of her true goals. “I’m going to Temple for magazine journalism because I am genuinely interested in a career in media,” she said.

“The whole ‘Box in a Box’ experience has taught me a lot … However, my dream job would be to write music reviews all the time. This way, I could fuse together the two things I enjoy the most.”

For those who are a fan of her vocals, have no fear – Kauffman doesn’t plan to give up on music, although she’ll likely try to make her next hit about something that doesn’t involve references to the female anatomy.

“My biggest fear right now is being [known as] the ‘Box in a Box girl,’” said Kauffman. ”

“I’m very much afraid that people won’t care to listen to the music I’ve made that comes from a place other than my sense of humor. I’ve been writing music for a very long time, and it’s one of my greatest passions.”

To hear what Kauffman is talking about, you can visit or her Web site

Chrissy Reese can be reached at

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