Smithsburg native goes viral with 'Gates'

August 31, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE |
  • Smithsburg native Ryan Williams as Bill Gates in the Official Comedys parody movie trailer Gates: The Official Movie Trailer. The fake trailer has gone viral.
Courtesy of Official Comedy

When it comes to the world of comedic acting today, the sweetest words to hear are “the video has just gone viral.”

Smithsburg native Ryan Williams experienced just that when he appeared in the Official Comedy’s parody movie trailer, “Gates: The Official Movie Trailer.” 

Williams plays Bill Gates, who along with his trusty pal Clippy (the talking paperclip helper from the old Windows versions), follows a fictional account of the Microsoft founder from dropping out of Harvard to creating Windows, and beyond. The video, which was released on Aug. 14, poked fun at Gates and coincided with the release that weekend of Ashton Kutcher’s feature film, “Jobs,” based on the life of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Williams said he did work before with Official Comedy, which is YouTube’s comedy channel that curates comedy videos as well as has original programming and newsworthy parody videos. Kirk Larsen, who he had worked with before, was set to direct “Gates.”


“I guess when the folks of Official Comedy came up with this idea for a parody movie trailer, they were looking for nerdy people to play Bill Gates. And I came to mind,” Williams jokes during a telephone interview from New York City, not far from his Brooklyn, N.Y., home.

 “Kirk asked me if I would be interested. Of course, it was a really funny script and the response was so amazing,” he said.

At Official Comedy’s site, the video has seen more than 256,000 views as of presstime Wednesday. It was soon shared with Huffington Post as well as other news organizations.

“I think we all knew it was a funny idea,” Williams said of the video. “But the combination of the topicality of it, and the production of the video itself really pushed it into a whole other level. I’ve done other comedy videos before and this is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of.”

Williams, a 2001 Smithsburg High School graduate, said he discovered making people laugh with drama teacher Nancy Bushey. Williams said he didn’t have a clear path toward comedy then, but he was able to dabble.

“I always sort of knew I was offbeat and I like entertaining my friends, but high school with Mrs. Bushey was when I started performing onstage with comedy and being fairly successful, which was fun,” he said. 

Williams went on to Towson University, planning to major in English or history and teach like his parents, Melissa and David Williams, both teachers in Washington County.

But at Towson, Williams and his best friend, Matt Hobby, discovered the on-campus TV station lacked in its comedic programming.

He said they were watching one of the station’s comedy shows and “thought we could do something funnier than this.”

They ended up working with the station and launched “The Funniest Show Ever in History,” producing about six episodes

“And that was the first time I had ever tried to produce comedy on a certain regular basis,” he said. 

That was also when Williams decided teaching wasn’t going to be a career choice for him.

“Once I started working in the television field, I just loved it,” he said.

In the fall of 2004, Williams landed an internship in New York with “Late Show with David Letterman.” After he graduated in May 2004, he was offered a part-time position at “Late Show” and that September was hired full time.

He said at first, he wasn’t focused on comedy, but making sure that Letterman’s people would ask him to come back. 

“I was just sinking my claws in and letting everyone know what I hard worker I was at the  ‘Late Show,’ because I wanted to stay and comeback after I graduated,” he said.

Today, Williams works in the talent department of the “Late Show,” where he books stand-up comedians and “human interest guests,” or anyone who has been on TV or film.

He said he’s been able to work at “Late Show” while still pursuing his improv and comedy work at night. 

“What’s great about doing comedy in this city — almost all of it takes place after 8 o’clock at night. It’s a lot of late nights and early mornings,” he said. 

About four years ago, Williams started taking improv classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. One of its founders is “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler. 

Williams said UCB has taught him the idea of “Yes. And ...”

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