Who can forget the 2006 WPMI-TV local news report that launched the Crichton Leprechaun to Internet stardom?
A few days before St. Patrick’s Day that year, Brian Johnson and his crew were investigating why crowds of people in the Crichton area of Mobile, Ala., kept gathering beneath a tree at night holding camcorders and camera phones. Residents claimed they had spotted a leprechaun, offering the reporter unintentionally hilarious commentary and even producing an amateur sketch that looked as if it had been drawn by a blindfolded two-year-old.
After the report aired on the NBC affiliated news station, the video, including the craptacular sketch, was uploaded to YouTube and the Internet went wild. The original video alone has been viewed more than 21 million times. A re-uploaded version from July 2012 has received an additional 1.8 million views. You have to wonder how many theoretical dollars that works out to.
It was clear that viewers couldn’t get enough of the report. But it wasn’t the leprechaun, hoax or not, which drew them in by the millions, but rather some of the zingers delivered by the interviewed residents. Notable quotes included, “To me, it looked like a leprechaun to me,” and “It could be a crackhead who got hold of the wrong stuff. And it told him to get up in the tree and play a leprechaun.” The amateur sketch didn’t do too badly, either. Just a few weeks after WPMI-TV aired the story, an Internet savvy entrepreneur launched Where Da Gold At, selling T-shirts featuring the amateur sketch. Oh, yes, you can still find them. Sites like CafePress still offer a wide selection of tees, tanks, onesies (yes, onesies), hoodies, sweatshirts, aprons, bumper stickers, clocks, journals, balloons, teddy bears, mousepads, iPhone and iPad cases and covers, magnets and mugs. Who doesn’t appreciate a good mug, right?
The news report spawned countless remixes and parodies on YouTube, including one video uploaded by YouTuber wickedawesomefilms called, “Liam the Leprechaun in a Tree,” which stars a California leprechaun “discovered” in a tree. The video made the Big Time, however, when it transcended YouTube fame and found itself just a few years later being parodied on the March 18, 2009 South Park episode “The Coon.” There it was in all its glory: the news report featuring a parody of one of the interviewed Crichton residents saying, “To me it looked like Mysterion to me.”
A few years after that, on July 26, 2011, the news report found itself in the spotlight yet again, this time on an episode of Tosh.0. Host Daniel Tosh interviewed one of the residents who, in 2006, claimed to be trying to help direct traffic as a result of the alleged leprechaun and had with him what he described in the original newscast as a special leprechaun flute passed down to him from “thousands of years ago” from his great-great-grandfather who was Irish. Tosh went to the tree with Flute man, the sketch artist (who apparently made a pretty penny from his, erm, artistic rendering) and a few other residents. It was pretty clear that regardless of what people believed they saw in 2006, they were quite willing to be good sports and laugh at themselves and Crichton’s Internet fame.