Date of Award

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Richard Popp

Committee Members

Thomas Haigh, Christopher Cantwell


Beginning as an underground scene across Canada and the USA, a collection of comedians who sourced ephemera from VHS tapes, and transformed it for comedic effect, would go on to create the found footage phenomenon. This thesis chronicles a 25-year history of how Derrick Beckles, the Found Footage Festival, and Everything Is Terrible! created a subculture that would influence the next generation of American alternative comedy. These actors of the phenomenon would clash with the traditional TV ecosystem that birthed them, at a time when that industry was threatened by the rise of the internet. But, crucially, the phenomenon demonstrates how nostalgia can be utilized as both a livelihood for those who showcase ephemera, and as a critical weapon of satire for those artists looking to criticize elements of American politics and society. The utilization of nostalgia by these actors offers an invaluable insight into how they operate as artists.

Available for download on Monday, January 20, 2025