Being a YouTube Comedian

August 2012By Comments

Photograph by Marco Garcia

NAME: Kevin Wu (a.k.a. KevJumba)
AGE:
22
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 experience. 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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