The loneliness of the long-distance webtard

NICK DOUGLAS — "I'm thrilled to now add being part of a Super Bowl commercial to my list of accomplishments." Sad. But that's what one of the actors says in a promotion called My Bowl Ad, another chance for has-been internet stars to milk one more appearance out of the fame from their year-old YouTube video. But this is only one of the four paths that the career of an Internet celebrity (or "webtard") can take after the first 15 minutes.

1. Huge TV deal: Go big, go television. Sell out and laugh all the way to the bank.
Who can do it: Damn sharp talent. If you're lame and you want a TV spot, forget viral video. You'll just have to do whatever Carlos Mencia did.
Classiness: A-list
Poster child: Andy Samberg, who got hired along with his team from the The Lonely Island to perform and write for Saturday Night Live
Most-heard bittersweet quote: "You're the only reason I watch SNL."
End-game: Get a movie deal. Samberg has finished filming Hot Rod, which looks like the sort of sports comedy that Will Arnett wishes he could do. Again Samberg has brought Lonely Island cohorts: Akiva Schaffer directs and Jorma Taccone acts in the film.

2. Internet rockstar: Stay online and pump a prime brand.
Who can do it: Clever and ambitious acts with their own fan club
Classiness: B-list
Poster child: Ask a Ninja, who last year released a DVD compiled from their Q&A online video show
Most-heard catchphrase that's starting to wear on you: "I look forward to killing you soon!"
End-game: Build the brand. In addition to the DVD, Ask a Ninja has done a celebrity interview of Will Ferrell for his movie "Blades of Glory." The ninja has also appeared in online ads for Yahoo and reported for NPR's "All Things Considered" and David Spade's "Showbiz Show." The team is also writing a book, "The Ninja Handbook."

3. Sadly cling to fame: Appear on VH1, get a spot in a Super Bowl ad, do magazine interviews, make a half-assed second video.
Who can do it: Mediocre or accidental internet stars with a small show or a one-time fad
Classiness: D-list
Poster child: Numa Numa Guy (Gary Brolsma)
Most-heard hope-crushing quote: "Oh, ha, I never learned your real name."
End-game: End up cold and alone, hanging at the One Red Paperclip guy's house and trying to make out (and striking out, you loser) with YouTube's Little Loca.

4. Just forget it: Move on. Continue your career. Do an interview or two and forget it.
Who can do it: Normal people
Classiness: No list, no Q-score, but a class act
Poster child: Afroninja, who went back to work as a stuntman — it turns out he was (seriously) just having a terrible day.
Most-heard quote: "So what do you do now?"
End-game: A happy and satisfying life out of the public eye. Say hi to Macaulay Culkin.

Nick Douglas writes for Valleywag, Prezzish, and Look Shiny. He stole the word "webtard" from a friend's t-shirt.