Why one comic is mourning the death of Yahoo Answers

Yahoo Answers, the site that everyone loves to hate, is shutting down after today. And at least one Toronto artist is a little sad about that.

For the past four months, local comic, musician and writer Anesti Danelis has posted weekly TikTok videos sending up some of the site’s most ridiculous questions and answers.

In one video based on an actual question, a woman wonders if her husband is cheating on her because his gas smells different (“kinda like he had Thai food or something,” she writes). Wearing a ratty wig, Danelis earnestly recites the wife’s question, quickly editing in depictions of the flatulent husband and the family dog, whom the husband, we’re told, often blames for breaking wind.

Scored with an infectiously boppy tune, it’s a beautifully choreographed and edited (60 seconds is the maximum) illustration of a ridiculous question. And it’s very funny.

Danelis was inspired by the musician Lubalin, whose songs based on banal online conversations have gone viral on YouTube.

“He’s a musician, and he took a skill – his music – and applied it to something that connects everybody, which is memes,” says Danelis. “I wondered what my version of that might be. Then I remembered how much I loved Yahoo Answers, and how much people connected to them. So I thought it’d be fun to just make a song out of them and look into the world of all the people who answer those questions.”

His videos – which take between three to four days to write, design, perform, shoot, edit and upload – quickly caught on. He had 100 TikTok followers in January; he now has close to 70,000. Added together, his videos have had a few million views.

He tries to find a musical language for each query. For the question “I made Jesus-shaped pancakes but I burnt them am I going to hell?” he knew he wanted to use a gospel choir-type aesthetic. And for the cheating-husband-gas video, he used the colours blue and pink, which reminded him of a Carly Rae Jepsen-type pop song. So he went for that feel in the music.

Last week, before the end of Yahoo Answers, Danelis took screenshots of a few more stupid conversations for future videos. He might have a Canada Day-related video to upload close to that holiday.

But he also realizes that there’s no shortage of dumb material out there just waiting to be musicalized.

“There are funny conversations that happen online, funny signs and their translations,” says Danelis. “The key is trying to see how I can create songs from memes – I just made a song about the Gorilla Glue girl – but also focus on original stuff as well.”

He’s been busy during the pandemic. He released a very funny comedy album called Quarantine Bops last year.

Unfortunately, because he’s Canadian, he doesn’t qualify for the TikTok creator fund, which pays American artists money based on the number of views their work gets, much like YouTube.

But his work has opened up some doors while live comedy venues continue to be shuttered. He’s made an advertisement for a video company, and has also landed a producing gig.

“Nothing crazy,” he says, laughing. “I’m not going to be buying a new car in the future.”


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