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“Huh?” Guy is the nickname given to Nate Dern, a commercial actor in an AT&T Wireless commercial in which his only line is a surprised “Huh?” in replying to the character of his boss. Along with the video, the actor rose to the status of an overnight celebrity after he posted a link to the video on Reddit in November of 2011.
On November 7th, 2011, Redditor natedern submitted a link to an AT&T commercial titled "Hi Reddit. After three years of auditioning, I booked my first commercial. I say “Huh?” in this AT&T spot. Just wanted to share." The thread quickly reached the front page of Reddit and accumulated over 31,000 upvotes and 2,800 comments in the first 24 hours. The commercial video gained more than 500,000 views in the first 72 hours of upload on YouTube.
Manager: “Matt, ignore me and continue updating your fantasy team.”
Upon reaching the frontpage, the post was met by skeptic members in the Reddit community who began debating whether or not Nate was an actual Redditor or if it was a viral marketing ploy planned by an advertising agency. Meanwhile, several variations and parodies of the original advert began popping up on Reddit, including cinemagraphs and image macros based on the commercial footage. On the following day, Redditor Jjiinx posted a “Huh?” Guy rage comic face, which was subsequently adapted into a rage comic by Redditor fenalphthalein. A search query for the term “Huh Guy” on Reddit yields more than 130 posts (as of April 2012).
Later that day, the actor behind the commercial revealed a timestamped photograph of himself in the comments section of the thread:
On November 9th, Internet news blog Mashable published an article about the commercial, explaining that “there’s something inherently funny about brutal honesty delivered as if it was plain vanilla management speak.” However, the article initially failed to mention anything about Reddit being involved in the spread of the video. The next day, Dern released a follow-up post on Reddit with a link to another YouTube video of outtake reels from the AT&T Wireless commercial.
In the following week, the story of Dern’s overnight stardom resonated throughout the advertising and business news sites, many of which praised the commercial as an “unexpected hit” for BlackBerry, citing the view stats of previous BlackBerry commercials on YouTube.
On November 14th, Know Your Meme interviewed Nate Dern about his career, his reaction to the rage face, and how he ended up in the commercial to begin with. For the full transcript of the e-mail interview, please visit KYM Blog – Q&A Interview with Nate Dern.
Q: How did you land the part?
A: I’ve been going out on commercial auditions in New York City for about three years. Some weeks I’ll have a few auditions, some none at all. I have a commercial agent who sends me out. Occasionally there are open casting calls for commercials, but most of the time you need to have been sent out by an agent or casting director. I didn’t do anything special on this one that I haven’t done before. Just got lucky this time.
Q: Did you think the internet would respond with this magnitude?
A: No way. I have self promoted on Reddit before (if you go back through my posts, I think I have a few videos and other things I’ve created that I’ve submitted). I had no idea that I would get upvoted significantly, and obviously had no idea that rallying behind the “Huh?” guy would become an inside joke / show of solidarity.