If you read a site like Splitsider, chances are you also read—and/or have submitted your original work to—McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the online arm of Dave Eggers’ McSweeney’s Publishing. It’s been posting “daily humor almost every day” since 1998. It’s a big moment in the career of a comedian or writer, famous or not famous, when they land a hilarious list, open letter, or tightly-structured narrative piece on the Tendency. The site has helped launch and sustain the careers of many major comic voices, including John Hodgman, Ellie Kemper, Wendy Molyneux, Michael Ian Black, and lots of other legit comedy people whose work you regularly enjoy on TV, at the movies, in print, and online.
But unlike other humor entities of quality and reach, like, say, Saturday Night Live or The Onion, the Tendency doesn’t employ a huge creative staff. In fact, M.I.T. (no relation) is run by one guy—for the past 10 years, Christopher Monks has been a virtually one-man operation. He does all the article selection, editing, correspondence, posting, and social media, and all out of his house in Arlington, Massachusetts. “It’s a part-time job that requires full-time hours,” Monks says, “but I love it.”
Another notable thing about McSweeney’s is that, unlike pretty much every other website in the world, there’s little to no advertising. For most of its existence it was ad-free, supported entirely, as Monks says, “by the largesse of McSweeney’s Publishing.” When the mothership became a nonprofit organization, the Tendency introduced a single spot of advertising to help generate revenue, because, as traffic rises, the costs go up—paying for servers and whatnot is very expensive.
Rather than adopt more advertising and fundamentally change the 19-year-old McSweeney’s reading experience, Monks and McSweeney’s are instead running a Patreon campaign to generate revenue. The initial goals are to raise funds to pay for expenses, and to expand the Tendency’s technical and editorial staff. And although it’s long been one of the most prestigious comedy outlets, the Tendency “never had the resources to pay our writers,” Monks says. “Our hope is that the Patreon will allow us to finally do so.”
They’re asking for a relatively small amount, as far as these crowdfunding drives go. The McSweeney’s Internet Tendency Patreon launches today. Go there to learn more and throw in a few bucks.