Philly-born comedian seeks 100,000 Twitter followers to start a new (tax-exempt) religion

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Brandon Scott Wolf wouldn’t call himself the next L. Ron Hubbard, but he does need 100,000 people to join his new religion.

Otherwise, the 2011 Penn State grad, 27, won’t be able to register it for tax-exempt status — which, of course, is the whole point.

Wolf, a Philadelphia-born comedian and television writer (he’s freelanced for Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update and was a staffer on the Neil Patrick Harris variety show Best Time Ever) who now resides in New York City, recently launched, which he calls a “performance art” piece targeted at getting people to follow him on Twitter to join his religion, the Followers of Brandon. Once the account reaches 100,000 followers, Wolf plans to file 501(c)(3) paperwork with the IRS to have it viewed as an actual religion, which Wolf says will allow him to avoid paying taxes.

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With this year’s Tax Day already passed, he’s up to about 9,000 “Followers,” with a capital F, who Wolf calls his devotees. “A lot of people say it looks like I am starting a cult,” Wolf says, “and I want to be clear: I am not a cult leader, I just have a cult following.”

Wolf, who was raised in Bucks County, says his religion has only one commandment: “Thou shalt like AND retweet,” with “and” in all capitals because it is “imperative” that followers do both because the tweets are his gospel. Otherwise, he says he hopes to “make it as enjoyable as possible for everyone.”

Comedy fans may recognize Wolf’s name from previous projects like “” and “,” a pair of 2015 online performance art pieces that went viral. Wolf calls his dating site the “number one dating site for me, Brandon Scott Wolf,” while the other was a tongue-in-cheek challenge to boxer Floyd Mayweather.

Despite the success of those projects, Wolf found that his social media accounts weren’t growing at the rate he had hoped, stalling at between two and 10 new followers per week. Then is when inspiration struck.

“I said to myself, ‘Brandon, how can you actually grow your following?’ Most religious people who start religions end up having a following. And since there are legitimate religions that kind of have based their [beliefs] around what seems to be getting tax breaks, I thought, ‘Why not make my own religion?’”

Since then, Wolf’s account has grown significantly, and has added about 1,200 Followers in the past week. The account has even gotten the attention of celebrities like former president Barack Obama, comedian George Lopez, and Pussycat Dolls frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger, all of which are Followers. Apolo Anton Ohno, Olympic speed skater, was also a Follower until recently — a development that Wolf says cut him deep.

“Now, I notice everyone who strays from my flock,” he says. “I’m saying this to the media right now because I’m hoping he sees this and comes back home.”

Most recently, however, Wolf says that he has noticed an influx of alt-righters and supporters of President Donald Trump joining his ranks. Wolf is unsure what to make of that segment of his Following, saying that he isn’t sure if they want to be Followers or if “they want to kill me one day.” After all, he says he has offended some folks with the project, but they usually “kind of laugh it off.”

Either way, Wolf says he is happy to die for his humor — particularly because he has a killer pinned tweet at the moment.

“If I do get murdered, and my pinned tweet is the one I have now that’s a GIF of me saying ‘I can save you’ on loop, the joke is going to be so much funnier,” Wolf says. “Dying would be bad, but everyone is going to be laughing so hard when I return in three days.”

Wolf, who was born into a Jewish family, says he knows where he stands in history when it comes to creating a religion. And while his idea may not be an original one, he does plan to make it his own.

“I’m not the first person who is Jewish to start a religion,” he says, referring to a certain carpenter, “I understand others have done it, but I’m doing it my way.”

That includes tongue-in-cheek plans for a church, which he refers to as a “denominational spiritual religious center.” While he is tight-lipped about those plans at the moment, he indicated that he wants to foster an online relationship with Tom Cruise’s Twitter account in hopes that the actor might appear at a future ribbon-cutting for the spiritual center, which Wolf notes will have free wi-fi.

“My version of the Vatican is coming, and it will be made,” Wolf says. “I can assure you of that.”

In addition to Christ and Wolf, among others, comedian John Oliver also started a religion, creating “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” in 2015 as a way to illustrate how some organizations abuse tax exemption. Oliver shut the project down shortly after its start, and donated money given to the church to Doctors Without Borders.

And while he appears completely out there, Wolf acknowledges that he sounds “crazy,” but, then, that’s what makes convincing performance art. The project, he says, “gives a look into my personality” and serves as “a great way to showcase who I am.”

“There are lots of funny comedians in Philly and New York,” Scott says. “And you can be great, but you’re still not going to stand out. I use these websites as a way for people to take notice of my work, and thankfully, people seem to enjoy what I do, and they follow.”

When folks do follow Wolf and contact him to let him know he’s gained a follower, he likes to make it official with a direct message back. Essentially, the Followers of Brandon leader tells new members of his flock they are “good and devout,” and thanks them for following. And in his mind, it is official.

“If you’re getting DM’ed by the person in charge of your religion, it’s official at that point,” Wolf says. “If @Pontifex reaches out to you, then you are officially a member of the Catholic Church.”

And so it goes for the Followers of Brandon. Join online here.

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