Being a YouTube Comedian

Being a YouTube Comedian
Photograph by Marco Garcia

NAME: Kevin Wu (a.k.a. KevJumba)
HOME: Houston
QUALIFICATIONS: Has written and filmed more than 135 short videos since 2007 / Boasts over 2.3 million YouTube  subscribers / Worked on a video series with HBOlab

● During high school, I was  so bored I would watch YouTube  for, like, six hours a day. One  afternoon, I decided I would just  put out a video. I had to find one  of my parents’ old cameras to start  recording. I didn’t have experi ence. I was never into film. 

● At first I had fifty subscribers  that I would actually email  with—my first viewers. These  were people from places like the Netherlands, Canada, and Asia who stumbled across my videos. I was so flattered. It encouraged me to post more because, in a sense, I could make new friends.  

● I had only been video blogging  for two weeks when my second  video got featured on the home page  of YouTube by some guest editor.  It was a post titled “I Have to Deal  with Stereotypes.” It went up on  a school night around midnight,  and I didn’t sleep because I was so  excited. In one night, I went from  150 views a video to 500,000. 

● YouTube is a really honest  medium. People speak their mind  online. You connect. If I were to give  advice to anyone trying to make  it big on YouTube, I would tell them  to be real. The more human you are, the more success you are going to have. 

● My parents are traditional Asian Americans, and it makes them uncomfortable to talk about things like sex and drinking. So for me, it’s always been “How can I talk about things that  they avoid?” The goal is to have the discussion but to still make it funny. 

● I am meticulous about the joke.  When I am talking to the camera, I’ll shoot that five, maybe eight times, just to where I can say, “Okay, this is the best I can do it.”

● There are going to be people who will be like, “This wasn’t as funny; I think if you tried this and this …” You have to be very open to that. They are trying to help you. 

● Connecting with my audience  is the reason I make videos. 

● My videos average nearly three  million views. That’s what some TV shows average, and they make millions. When I started, people weren’t earning anything from YouTube. Now every time someone watches one of my videos I get a fraction of a penny. But if a person clicks on an ad, it generates more income.

● I don’t want to call myself  a celebrity, because that’s separating—that’s saying, “Hey, I’m better than a normal person. I’m a celebrity.” I don’t even like the word.

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