Around midnight on Thursday, Sept. 5, five seniors — Patrick Adelman, Sharath Koorathota, Ben Levy, Joseph Prosack, and Nick LeClaire — posted a video of one of their pranks. Little did they know that the video would reach over 8 million YouTube views.
The Chamber Boys convene weekly to create what they call a “synergistic media platform” or, in other words, a talk radio show with supplementary video content.
The whole point of the prank as well as Chamber Boys’ other video content is to promote their radio station, which airs every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. on WRUR, UR’s student-run radio show. On their show, they banter about campus events, discuss their personal lives, and interview guests.
Adelman, who impersonated chemistry lecturer Benjamin Hafensteiner, wanted to pull a prank specifically on freshmen.
“I wanted to capitalize on their naivety, specifically that of the pre-meds and people with dreams,” Adelman said.
Despite appearing on the show previously, Hafensteiner was initially hesitant. He later decided to offer the first five minutes of class for the prank.
“I thought that it would start the class out at a high energy level and use it as an icebreaker to get the students on the same page,” Hafensteiner said. “I also thought that I could show our class that I am not the stereotypical, tweed jacket-wearing, fear-instilling professor, which Pat played perfectly.”
On the first day of Hafensteiner’s Chemistry 131 class, Koorathota, Prosack, and LeClaire set up their cameras throughout Hubbell Auditorium and awaited Adelman’s arrival. The team planned a script weeks in advance and rehearsed it extensively. A laugh from a camera or Adelman breaking character would have deflated the entire joke.
Adelman entered five minutes early and wrote his alias on the board.
“I expected the room to get silent after that,” he said.
And it did.
In the video, Adelman begins by saying that 55 percent of the last year’s class failed the course. Next, he asked that all students considering a pre-med career stand up. He then tells the left and middle sections to sit down, indicating that only a third of prospective medical students will become sucessful.
Freshman Anne Peterson was among those in the class.
“I thought he was joking, so I laughed, but when I realized that no one else was laughing, I actually got kind of scared,” Peterson said. “It was unnerving.”
Feeding off of the collective panic, Adelman ordered everyone to close all laptops and put away their cell phones. The Chamber Boys later playfully edited the video to include the subsequent “laptop kill count.”
“I was more than a little freaked out by the fake professor,” freshman Taylor Page said.
Both Page and Peterson were convinced, as was the entire class, that Adelman was the actual Dr. H. until the real Hafensteiner confronted his imposter. Adelman sprinted out of the auditorium to the nervous excitement of the class.
Koorathota, one of the three Chamber Boys filming the prank, is a pre-med student himself.
“I would be terrified if I was in their situation,” Koorathota said.
The Chamber Boys spent the next 48 hours crafting the footage into a three minute and nine second video.
Around midnight on Thursday, Sept. 5, they, posted the video onto the videos subreddit and waited. Within a couple of hours, it was number one on the front page, where it would remain through the morning. Soon after, the Chamber Boys were also interviewed by the local news: YNN, 13WHAM, and the Democrat & Chronicle. The story was picked up shortly thereafter by the Huffington Post, Gawker, Buzzfeed, and even Fox News.
The video currently has more than 8 million views. The new traffic to their YouTube channel has increased the number of views on their other videos from a couple hundred hits to tens of thousands.
They will continue to focus on making entertaining segments. In the past, the Chamber Boys talked with Professor of Economics Stephen Landsburg about his controversial blog post, and brought New York state senator Joe Robach into the studio. Other guests have included male strippers and drag queens talking about their boobs. There was a live waxing on-air once. Nothing is off-limits.
Adelman’s performance has brought him newfound attention.
“I have been approached,” he said. “There is a lot of staring and pointing.”
As for Hafensteiner, he remains unfazed.
“Being internet famous is like turning 26,” he said. “You feel exactly the same.”
Brady is a member of the class of 2015.