MADISON, Wis. — Chad Vader gets no respect, but he sure gets plenty of laughs.

Poor Chad, the younger brother of the evil Jedi knight slayer Darth Vader, is stuck managing a grocery store in a series of short films that have become an international hit, thanks to video-sharing sites YouTube and MySpace. The six wacky episodes created by Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan have been viewed more than 9.5 million times on those sites alone.

The popularity of Chad’s misadventures has allowed Yonda and Sloan, both aspiring filmmakers, to quit their jobs and negotiate a contract with a major media company they won’t yet name. It has also led to talk that Chad Vader may be the best comedy started in Madison since The Onion, the satirical newspaper founded here in the late 1980s.

“This is one of the biggest things to come out of Madison in a while,” said Jesse Russell, who runs a Web site that follows Madison arts and culture. “It’s a very Madisonian form of parody and comedy. The Onion was a perfect example. Chad Vader is kind of intelligent in some ways, but you also have to have a sense of pop culture to get it.”

Chad Vader is not strictly a “Star Wars” parody. The filmmakers say they wanted to build a universe of their own and avoid such cliches as, “Luke, I am your father.”

Instead, the episodes, which run about five minutes each, feature Darth’s little brother being demoted, facing derision from colleagues and struggling to win over a crush — even though he wields a light saber and can move objects with his mind.

“He doesn’t command the respect that Darth Vader does. He has the powers, he could be great but he’s missing something,” says Yonda, who transforms from a 34-year-old metal shop worker into Chad when he slips into his Supreme Edition Darth Vader costume. “Some key personality flaw is preventing him from getting past that level that he needs to get to become Supreme Commander of the Imperial Army.”

Sloan, who does the character’s voice with an uncanny resemblance to James Earl Jones’ Darth, said the goal was to humanize Vader by “making him that guy who doesn’t know how to handle his authority and goes way over the top ... but at the same time making him really likable.”

Chad Vader has conquered the Internet very quickly. Yonda and Sloan previewed their first episode to a small group at a Madison coffee shop last year and were nervous when they got few laughs. They made changes and submitted it to a monthly film contest in Los Angeles and won.

YouTube started featuring the episodes and fans quickly began e-mailing them to friends. ABC’s “Good Morning America” debuted their fourth episode and VH1 will feature Vader among its top 40 Internet superstars in April. Fan mail has poured in from around the world, including Tokyo, where Chad Vader was featured in a film festival.

The quality of the films has won over fans. Yonda takes 10 minutes to don the replica Vader suit, bought for $600 and transported in a 3-foot-long case. Sloan, 33, does the Vader impersonation so well that LucasArts recently hired him to record Darth’s voice for a new video game. The two came up with a catchy acoustic version of the “The Imperial March.”

They say they plan to do two more episodes — which take as long as 11 hours to film and cost up to $1,000 apiece — to finish the “first season” of Vader, and then film a second eight-episode season.

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