GOTYE! Somebody you used to know got his own hidden camera show

by Josiah Hughes

May 2, 2013






Email this article to a friend

As I continue this column, I’m learning a valuable lesson — trolling is not something you can force. Sure, I could crank out some bullshit about illuminati symbolism in the new Justin Timberlake album, unearth Taylor Swift’s Plenty of Fish profile, or make a press release about Best Coast’s upcoming one-syllable rhyming dictionary, but it’d all feel so workmanlike.

No, the best dumb jokes aren’t cerebral. They’re born in some elusive place where the soul meets my inner 13-year-old shithead. It might be that years of blasting the Short Music for Short People comp has completely demolished my attention span, but I work best when I have multiple chat windows open. Something about the constant flashing names of my peers (and Shotgun Jimmie) keeps me alert and attentive while I get work done. Plus, if I can get some laughs out of my friends, it usually helps me write interesting things in one of my myriad other open windows.

The office for Fast Forward Weekly, the paper that puts up with my bullshit full time, generally plays streaming web radio to avoid battles over what should be played. A few months ago, that meant we couldn’t stop hearing Gotye’s torturous hit “Somebody I Used to Know” (along with many, many, so many remixes).

In a Gchat window with AUX Managing Editor Nicole Villeneuve, I started complaining about Gotye. Then, showing my irresistible penchant for wordplay, I made a dumb crack: “Imagine if there was a prank show with that guy, and the show was called GOTYE!

A couple “lololol”s later and that was that. A funny chat window joke. Back to deleting publicist’s emails or whatever — the usual, every day shit. Or so I thought. But the seed was planted, and I thought about it for months. I wanted GOTYE! to be a real thing.

While I probably don’t know anyone with enough sway or money to make my dream come true, I do know my way around half-baked PR schemes through years as an entertainment writer. Hell, half of these people are pushing way worse ideas than an extreme prank show hosted by a funky white Australian folk guy.

Here’s the part where I pretend my incredibly stupid idea points to some larger, more profound truth — at this point, Wouter “Gotye” de Backer’s got a committed fanbase, but dude’s also undoubtedly going down, at least in mainstream pop culture, as a one hit wonder. Pour out some Foster’s for your fallen career, mate, because you’ve plateaued. A dingo ate your future.

With that in mind, a more desperate musician might be scrambling to protect what’s left of his career. Maybe he just bought a new house (or a dingo sanctuary, considering his Australian upbringing). With that in mind, good ol’ Wouter de Backer might jump at the opportunity to host a stupid, disposable MTV prank show. I know I would.

The fact that said prank show is called GOTYE! just adds to the horrible desperation. I mean, does it even work? I don’t really know — I’ve never had a conversation about Gotye’s music out loud. I don’t even really know how to pronounce it, but it probably sounds nothing like “got ya!” It’s probably more like go-ti-ay. Goat yay. Goiter eh.

I started by downloading some extreme free fonts with names like COCAINE and LAUNDROMAT (okay, the latter’s not very intense, but it looked like an Ed Hardy shirt made a baby with a ransom letter) and attempted to design my faux-Punk’d logo for this exciting new show. Some shitty experiments and I soon realized that this wasn’t the right vibe. Gotye’s a classy dude, and he deserves some suave sans-serif action.

Mocking up my GOTYE! logo, I relegated the shitty frat bro font to be the logo for my production company. How did I come up with a convincing name for my production company without using a real name, you ask? Well, I cracked open my boy Gotye’s Wikipedia page and blindly pointed at the first word that popped out. Boardface is the name of a Gotye album or something. I can’t remember. Who cares? Boardface Productions. Done.

An hour later, I had mocked up a production company logo and an ad for the show (I even added a clown nose to Wouter’s face in an effort to make him more playful!). It was time to draft my press release and casting call.

No disrespect to the people who write press releases, but it took me less than 15 minutes. And, for what it’s worth, I think it turned out to be pretty damn convincing:


In no time, I was ready for my “launch.” If there’s one area of this little game that’s labour intensive, it’s the digital footprint caused by setting all this bullshit up. Not only is my Tumblr homepage crammed with one-off joke sites (, carefully curated pop-punk fandom (, and Larry Stylinson hacktivism (, but it now has a GOTYE! prank show taking up space too. Then there’s the fact that I needed a new Gmail account; who knows how many fake ones I’ve racked up now. Thankfully, the internet’s a limitless void of content, and I can just let all of this garbage sink into the ether once my little game is done.

To help with authenticity (and kill an afternoon), the good people at AUX assembled a clip of pranks spliced with footage of Gotye covered in face paint. There’s also some jarring, hilarious GOTYE! graphics and a gross MIDI soundtrack. It’s literally perfect.

With everything set up, I was ready to start posting my casting call on Craigslists around the globe. While it’d be natural to start with Los Angeles and New York, those cities require $25 a pop for job postings. Something about submitting Gotye prank show receipts to the higher-ups at AUX seems a little soul-crushing.

You know which big city hits that sweet spot of desperation for fame with low enough standards that they don’t have a Craigslist fee? Toronto! And you better believe I posted that shit on there, and it was the city that offered the most results (I also made casting calls in Canadian cities like Calgary, Winnipeg, Kamloops, Victoria, and Edmonton, along with cities in Australia, Japan, and the UK).

Within two days, I had over 100 emails, all of which ranged from adorable and hilarious to maddeningly effortless and heartbreakingly depressing.

There are too many incredible examples to include, so here’s just a small sample of results (names removed unless they gave me permission):

“What the pay,” asked one male applicant, who also included an amatuer selfie as a headshot.

A down-to-earth surfer chick thought our idea was “epic” with the following statement:

Man did the radio here in Canada overplay “Somebody that I Used to Know.” Still love Gotye to this day though, no worries. Involving music in a prank show is the greatest idea ever! I would love to be apart of this. I listen to alot of Aussie music, you guys got it going on music wise!

This man, on the other hand, never got tired of Gotye’s hit despite the fact that it was endlessly overplayed:

In Canada, “Somebody That I Used To Know” was first big as a “Walk Off The Earth” viral video. When I realized it was a cover song, I had to check out the original. Gotye’s video, and recording, is nothing short of remarkable. Soon, his version was heard EVERY HOUR on FM Radio in Winnipeg, and I never was tired hearing it. That is RARE. When he played live on SNL, I enjoyed his unique stage presence and raw voice. I, most definitely, am a fan. If you need a Canadian actor to participate in your hi jinks, I would make myself available. Thanks!

One man sent me an email with the subject line “Lol,” where he offered some constructive criticism of the show:

I don’t think that show sounds like a good idea, guarantee will be cancelled before the end of season 1.

An applicant from Dublin, Ireland was equally cynical:

Only get back to me if you don’t mind me upstagin gotwhatever

So was this fella in Calgary:

sounds pathetic like his song !

A nice lady didn’t quite get the artist’s name right, but did demonstrate a carpe diem attitude about the whole thing:

Hi, was involved in acting throughout high-school and have played many pranks growing up. Im a huge fan of Gotyo… OK just the one song but anyway please call. only live once

Another anonymous user pasted in the same form letter he probably used for Tim Hortons:

To whom this may concern i want to obtain a position with you that allows for personal development and professional growth by utilizing the skills obtained through my previous work experience. I am a reliable, fast learning and hard working individual, capable of working independently with minimal supervision,with great pasion and care.

A self-described “pleasantly plump blonde” from Victoria thought she could win the contest with a stare-down:

wow what great idea!!! i have lots of experience in theatre,performance,and can keep a sraight face when needed.i always kicked but in staring contests !.i am a wacky ,bubbly pleasantly plump blonde who can sing a mean adele! would love a chance to audition!

A student from Victoria tried to sell me on the job via her city’s landscapes:

hello. I am a young student who loves music. I live in the capitol of British Columbia, Canada and we’re famous for it’s tourist industry and our amazing, wonderful gardens. I would love to be part of this production and have been in theatre for a few years. I also have the ability to read bass cleff and treble cleff music and play 2 different brass instruments. I would love to hear back from this lovely opportunity.

A middle-aged actress with some industry experience won her way into my heart with wordplay:

Hello, I GOTMY “Eyes wide open” when I read your casting call for GOTYE! I’m not just “Somebody that you used to know”. As an experienced actor in film, TV, reality, and stage I could be a great fit for your production. “What do you want” to know? Am I a fan of GOTYE? You BETYE! At this moment my ukulele group is working on an arrangement of “Somebody that you used to know”.

Another lady had a similar approach:

I don’t want to be somebody he use to know! This sounds like so much fun!!! Don’t take life so serious is my life moto so this is perfect!! Looking to spice up my life with a little goofing off. Let me know if you need any more information

An itemized list of why we should hire her:

absolutely count me in!!! #1. i am a Gotye fan, know the tunes #2. love humor and lotsa laughs

Some applicants used all caps to get their messages across:


Another applicant was skeptical and, sadly, correct in their assumption:

So much is fake on craigslist lately that I was hesitant to reply. Can I get more information on this Oppertunity?

One user figured they could get by on their love of April 1st:

I don’t have previous professional acting experience, but I definitely know how to pull a good prank! [Ps – I love April Fools 😉 ]

An applicant from Calgary seriously over-shared:

I always enjoy creativity and having fun at the same time. I have a story about that hit song, a close freind of mine was seeing a guy off/on for about a year and that song reminded her of this guy. I think it was becasue she would cut himoff quickly when he made a mistake then he would come smooth talking his way back in, then he would make another mistake and she would cut him off again. I seen most of it and alI I could say was here we go again. To make a long story short he is still cut off but the way its been going I would not be surprised if he was back again in about a month.( ha) I would look forward to any opportunity to be involved with this production in Calgary, as my freind would get a big kick out of it. It would be a fatastic memory and a great time.

A young man whipped out his thesaurus for the email:

I am stunned that this opportunity is even being given to allow people to work with such a illustrious and talented artist.

Jamie from Toronto offered up her talents as a pop star impersonator.

I am interested in learning more about this show. I am based in Toronto and have been told that I can look like Lady Gaga at times which could be good for a prank.

A middle-aged man insisted that he wouldn’t lose sight of the task at hand while having some laughs:

When on set my focus is to get the job done the way you want it, I know a prank show is to have fun but also realize there will be times when we need to buckle down and get serious. Get along well with animals, 2 or 4 legged variety, and if you can sit in it or on it I can drive it. Fully familiar in the use and handling of firearms, fishing equipment, camping and most sports and power tools.

This woman thought I was actually Gotye:

First of all I want to say I absolutely love this band and the song “just somebody that I used to know”, who can’t relate to that???!!!! Congrats on your Grammy win, too 🙂

Another middle-aged man living in Tokyo sent in some zany pics of himself. I wanted to show you, dear readers, so badly. So I nicely sent him this email:

Unfortunately, there’s no Gotye! prank show. Got ya! I wish it was real! However, I’m writing an article about this whole experience and I was wondering if I could possibly use your head shot in my article?

He wrote back with this amazing response:

I’ve never been one to find pranks very funny, especially those having to do with work and involving me. Therefore, NO, you do not have my permission to use my photo.

Truly remarkable when you consider that he had just applied to act on a prank show.

Arya Ponto, a blogger for Art Boiled, discovered the listings on Craigslist and expressed some serious cynicism about the prospect. “This whole thing sounds absurd enough to be an internet joke, but just shitty enough to actually be a real thing,” he wrote, adding, “For the sake of the reputation of everyone involved, I hope this is all just a prank on people like me, but let’s be honest, the mean part of me does hope that this is real, not so secretly.” By the end of the article, he was won over. “You know what, Gotye needs to do this.”

You know what, Arya? I propose you start your own investigative journalism show where you go undercover and expose people’s true identities with your logic and skepticism. The show will be called Oh, Arya?

In the end, GOTYE! wasn’t quite the internet-breaking troll meme that I hoped it would be, but it did inspire hundreds (okay, just over one hundred) to roll up their sleeves and type out the most half-assed of cover letters. It also almost fooled one blogger. When I type it out, it doesn’t sound that impressive. But it was damn fun, and I’ve already done most of the work in case I ever do decide to pitch it to MTV.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 Issue of AUX Magazine.

Download and subscribe for free in the app store.

Tags: Film + TV, Featured, AUX Magazine, gotye, Josh Hewiss






Email this article to a friend