Game of Thrones has returned for its fourth season more popular than ever; its season premiere, watched by over six million, notched the highest numbers ever for the fantasy series and secured an immediate renewal for both its fifth and sixth seasons. Along with the show’s premiere comes another anticipated return – the popular web series Gay of Thrones.
Gay of Thrones is not a parody of Game of Thrones, but rather a recap of each episode of the series by California hairdresser Jonathan Van Ness. Van Ness is not a professional actor or comedian; he’s simply a real-life hairdresser who explains exactly what happened on the previous episode of Game of Thrones in a hysterically sassy, inappropriately foul, and genuinely passionate way… to someone sitting in his salon chair having their hair cut.
Van Ness was the long time hairstylist of Funny or Die producer Erin Gibson, and one week while cutting her hair he sent her into fits of laughter while describing that week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Just like that, an internet star was born. Now every week fans can tune in to see just what’s happening with their favorite characters, only hear it in a way that will leave them laughing in a way the somber series itself rarely does.
Van Ness’s unique storytelling is characterized by a few distinct features, primary among them his creative use of nicknames for all of the characters. He doesn’t explain these hilarious names, but just states them as if they were obvious facts and moves on. Many of the nicknames are highly inappropriate, but among the G-rated ones are referring to little person Tyrion Lannister as “munchkin”, and calling perpetually tormented Sansa Stark “busted redhead”. Van Ness’s pop-culture references are aplenty – in addition to comparing moments on Game of Thrones to other films and television shows, he also infuses the nicknames he bestows with pop culture relevance. The Latino-accented Prince Oberyn Martel becomes “Mr. Sofia Vegara”, for example. Blonde-tressed mother of dragons Daenerys Targaryen is known as “Christina Aguilera”.
Even with his sassy rejoinders, Van Ness’s commentary is perhaps most funny because it comes from a place of sincere and genuine excitement and love for the show itself. When traitorous Theon Greyjoy was attacked in the woods the week after his portrayer, Alfie Allen, had appeared on the web series, Van Ness screams with pain, “he was just here last week and he was fine!” The week after the massacre known as the “Red Wedding”, Van Ness appeared in a veil and revealed he was devastated, sputtering to his client, “I can’t.”
Van Ness’s fans aren’t just Game of Thrones fans – some of them are actual cast members. Allen and Esme Bianco, who plays spirited prostitute Ros, have already appeared on the show, and more surprises are planned for the show’s sophomore season. Gay of Thrones has its celebrity fans as well – comedian Margaret Cho recently voiced her love for the show on Twitter, asking Van Ness to please do her hair so that they could talk about the new season.
Gay of Thrones is available about one to two days after each new episode of Game of Thrones at Funny or Die, the comedy website created by Will Ferrell.
By Alex Warheit