Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Comedian loves to slice and dice fruit
By Bill Speros Special to ESPN.com
At 5-foot-3, 265 pounds, actor and comedian Christian Busath had mixed emotions when it came to destroying Twinkies for art's sake.
Busath plays the leading role in "Fruit Ninja in Real Life to Dubstep," a viral YouTube video that racked up more than 1 million views in its first 36 hours and more than 10.2 million views as of Monday.
During the video, based loosely on the game app of the same name created by Halfbrick Studios, Busath slices and dices his way through a dizzying array of fruits -- not to mention the aforementioned Twinkie -- while doing his best avoid a flying cat. All of this comes after he rides into action on a horse named Zephyr. While the video is all about fruit and ninjas, the Twinkie steals the show at the 1:03 mark.
"We sliced four Twinkies overall. After each take -- I had to go off by myself and cry a little bit. I composed myself and came back and sliced the rest of them," Busath told Playbook two days after the video's release.
Scott Winn, who directed the video and created it with Jay Davis, said the Twinkie was purposely included as a target for the "Fruit Ninja" as a tribute to the snack cake and its parent company, Hostess, which shut down operations in November after filing for bankruptcy in January.
"Our goal was to get people upset about the Twinkie. We wanted people to have a love-hate toward that shot," Winn said. "There were people on the set who didn't know we were going to slice up Twinkies and they were pretty distraught when they found out what we were doing."
Does Busath enjoy fruit when he's not slaughtering it for the cameras?
"Fruit's in pies, so I eat fruit," he said.
And we now know the origins of Grandma's fruit cake and Aunt Mary's fruit salad.
Production took place over four days on a horse farm in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at another site in Provo, Utah, during the first week of December. Winn and his crew went through about 10 watermelons, 10 pineapples, eight pomegranates, three pumpkins, a bag of oranges and several bunches of bananas. Crew members tossed fruit in Busath's direction from five to 15 feet away, or in some cases, from the ground up directly beneath the very-sharp-sword-swinging, would-be ninja.
"The video is 100 percent real," he said. "He's literally hitting nearly every single piece of fruit -- we didn't expect him to have such accuracy."
Busath wields the sword from both sides of the plate and is ambidextrous when it comes to writing, as well. A graduate of BYU Idaho, Busath played softball, swam competitively, was a gymnast (note the perfect balance at the 31-second mark) and played softball while in elementary school and junior high in Sacramento, Calif. He began acting and performing comedy in high school to help himself deal with shyness brought on by Tourette syndrome and the ridicule that came from bullying classmates.
Shyness is no longer a problem. "My first thoughts were: 'Hell, yeah. Let's do this,'" said Busath, who collaborated with Winn in the past and is working with him on "an extreme snowboarding and sledding" video they expect to post on Winn's YouTube channel in January. The two raised the possibility of a gymnastics video featuring Busath in the future. "Scott's always open to ideas. This production was very energetic," Busath said.
The energy -- exactly one horsepower in the case of "Fruit Ninja in Dubstep" -- was provided by an initially stubborn Zephyr. The horse wasn't too happy about being saddled with a stout ninja and immediately tossed Busath the first time he tried to ride. A few hours later, Busath and Zephyr were ninja soulmates.
"Zephyr hadn't been ridden for a while," Busath said. "There were a lot of things working against me. We were top-heavy and the only saddle available was built for a smaller woman. You can see the bruise it left on my belly at the end of the video. And then we had mud everywhere, everywhere. I fell off twice but it was worth it. He was a good horse."