It was the early hours of Monday morning in New York City — one of the last days of summer before countless months of cold and darkness. Matt Little, a comedian who works at the UCB theater in the East Village, was heading home on the subway after a long day.
There, he witnessed a sight that managed to be at the same time beautiful and grotesque.
A rat, that symbol of everything that is terrible and heartbreaking about New York, was scurrying downstairs carrying a slice of pizza larger than itself.
Little took out his cell phone and recorded a short clip. When he posted the video to his social media accounts on Monday, he was quickly overwhelmed with the reaction to what became known as #PizzaRat.
Later on Monday, Little granted an interview to BuzzFeed News. The comedian reflected on the power of the image — and answered critics who had accused the rat of selfishness.
"It’s all a metaphor for living in New York," the rat videographer told BuzzFeed News. "You have too far to go and too much carry. But life gives you as much as you can handle."
Little explained that he shot the video around 1:00 a.m. at the 1st Avenue stop on the L train. He said nobody else in the subway station appeared to notice the scene.
"There were only about 5 or 6 people on the platform," he said. "And we were coming down the stairs, me and my friend Pat, and we noticed it. If you watch on the video, you can hear him say to the rat, “Live your best life.”
The comedian was able to add context to the short video.
“He pulled it down a couple of steps before I even started filming," he ssid. "This was a real journey."
Little also answered some critics who have said #PizzaRat was greedy in taking the whole slice for itself.
"Every rat has its own plight," he said. "We are not aware of what this rat’s story is. It could have been bringing that slice to a number of rats. Judge not lest you carry a slice of pizza bigger than you."
Little concluded by explaining that the rat may have left the slice behind not because it couldn't carry it, but in order to help the weary comedians.