A Jewish man is starting a religion and amassing a following.
Following in the footsteps of perhaps history’s foremost prominent spiritual figure but in an unconventionally modern way, Penn State alumnus Brandon Scott Wolf is building a new religion with an imperatively toned web site: FollowBrandonScottWolf.com.
Motivated by the prospects of achieving religious tax exemption, the project is a social media experiment designed by Wolf, who himself practices Judaism. While the magnitude of other religions is shown through tithing, parish affiliations, and pilgrimages, Wolf measures his disciples through his number of Twitter followers and their faith through their online endorsements.
To date, his account (@BrandonEsWolf) has more than 8,000 followers, including former president Barack Obama. Wolf says that he will need to make 100,000 buttons turn blue in order to apply for tax exemption.
“Everyone I talked to kept saying how my social media presence had to be bigger. I have had a decent following but I always wanted to grow that group. But no one is going to just click follow. You need something for them to get behind,” Wolf said.
“I’m sure there are people who have seen my site and thought that it was sacrilegious and blasphemy, but it’s pretty interesting to watch all this play out. You can look at it as just a sketch comedy video or you can realize that it is more than a video or links on a page. It opens the question about what a religion is and at what point are you able to follow something. To me, a religion is something that you believe in the most and you can’t stop people from following what they believe in.”
FollowBrandonScottWolf.com is a minimalist web site, equipped with just a link to his Twitter account and a heavily animated, out-of-the-box advertisement video where Wolf, a writer and comedian by trade, introduces viewers to his humor and invites them to follow him — both literally and figuratively.
The dogma of the religion is very straightforward; he describes his lone commandment as “thou shalt like and retweet.”
But in all seriousness, his core tenets revolve around tolerance and enjoyment.
“It’s a very simple religion. I don’t care if you’re Jewish like me, Christian, Scientologist, or someone who believes in that flying spaghetti monster god, I accept you,” Wolf said. “I accept you as who you are, the person you’re going to become, and the person you’ve been.
“I’m just trying to spread the Good Word, make people laugh, and entertain them with set-up punchline jokes, one-liners, and glimpses into the life of a self-proclaimed demigod.”
It's 2AM. You're on Twitter. You feel alone. Lost. Bored. Maybe gassy. Come, my child. Join me. Follow.
— Brandon Scott Wolf (@BrandonEsWolf) April 19, 2017
Wolf’s campaign has been heavily influenced by the brainchild of another writer, Scientology, which L. Ron Hubbard founded in 1955 and which has been the object of much scrutiny as an attempt at tax evasion over the years.
“Whether you think Scientology is a legitimate religion or just something that’s made up for a tax break, you have to wonder ‘If it works for Scientology, why not do the exact same thing and have fun while doing so?’” he said. “Plus, my main goal other than the tax exemption is to be able to start a really close online relationship with (noted scientologist) @TomCruise.”
Despite his religion’s inspiration, Wolf is quick to point out that his religion is not a cult — it’s a fan base, as he elucidates in his video. While making that clarification is something that Wolf likely grew accustomed to during his time as a Penn Stater, it’s not the biggest way that his time in Happy Valley has shaped his latest venture. During his sophomore year of college, Wolf started Second Floor Stand-Up in his Park Hill apartment in 2009, after several unsuccessful attempts to get into local bars for Open Mic Nights since he was only 19 at the time.
“Out of everything that I’ve done in my career, I think Second Floor Stand-Up is still the best idea I’ve ever had,” he said. “That was one of the first times I realized that people want to have a group and to be able to rally around an idea.”
FollowBrandonScottWolf.com is just the latest project of Wolf’s young, exciting career.
He currently performs his stand-up comedy in New York City 5-10 times per week as well as occasionally taking his show on the road around the country. In the past, Wolf wrote for Saturday Night Live and NBC’s Best Time Ever until recently turning his focus to developing scripts for TV pilots. One project in the works is a Spongebob Squarepants/The Sopranos hybrid adult comedy.
However, he may best be known for his web sites. DateBrandonScottWolf.com originated as a joke for Wolf’s comic peers but went viral when more than 170 women made profiles on this rigged, one-way dating site, catching the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who brought Wolf on her show. Shortly after, Wolf launched FightBrandonScottWolf.com as a facetious campaign for Wolf to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a sanctioned boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I really like how it’s essentially become a fill-in-the-blank phrase that I’ve built for myself. For now, I have my religion and I’m excited to see it grow, but I have a few ideas of what I will do next,” Wolf said.
“I would love to create a television show called ___ Brandon Scott Wolf and see how many different ideas I can put in that space because the possibilities are endless as long as I continue to think creatively and put something out there that I’m proud of because people like it and share it and it sets me apart from every other comic out there.”
I might be a god, but I still have feelings 😔 pic.twitter.com/jSpImgAlDf
— Brandon Scott Wolf (@BrandonEsWolf) April 14, 2017
All Are Welcome pic.twitter.com/FnDpdvduaq
— Brandon Scott Wolf (@BrandonEsWolf) April 17, 2017
I'm the world's first spiritual leader who performs stand up: a fact that I'm not proud of.
— Brandon Scott Wolf (@BrandonEsWolf) April 17, 2017