It’s safe to start off this post by stating that over the past few months my life has definitely changed. As most of you know almost a month ago to the day I appeared on the popular TV show Tosh.0 on Comedy Central. Since then, and even a month or two before that, I was pushed into the temporary “spotlight”. Now, if you’re reading this and thinking all this post is going to entail is me bragging or boasting about how cool it was to be on national TV you’re wrong… this post is going to attempt to take anyone who wants to hear about it, through my experience from the beginning to the end. I want to attempt to explain how I believe social media/technology played a huge role in the experience ending up the way it did. I also just want to reflect on what it was like being on the show and what’s transcended since then for those of you who care to hear it. Obviously a large percentage of my posts typically deal with sports, as they are traditionally what I am most interested in expressing my thoughts or opinions about, but this time around we’re going to switch it up.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tosh.0 it’s most simple description is “an American television series hosted by comedian Daniel Tosh, who provides sarcastic commentary on online video clips, society, celebrities, and other parts of popular culture.” For those of you who are familiar with the show, you know that I’m not lying when I say “the most simple description”. The show is basically a 30 minute, open playground, for Daniel to say whatever he wants about things most people would find funny, gross or often both, on the internet. He breaks the content down into different segments, but arguably the most popular part of the show is titled the “Web Redemption”. This is where Tosh invites a person or group that has a video on the Internet to be on the show. Usually, the video features the person in an embarrassing situation. They are invited to explain their video, interact with Tosh, and recreate the video. During the recreation, the guests will try to place themselves in a more positive light. This my friends is where I come into play…
I was invited on the show this past summer to “redeem” myself for a clip that had been posted of me on YouTube. (In case you haven’t seen the original clip you can find it here: Redeem Me) This was a humorous video put together when I was 18 years old aimed at making a little extra money doing commercials or print ads as I had done most of my life growing up. It was by no means intended to try to make me famous or “make it to the big-time”. I didn’t even take the video seriously at the time and obviously neither did the company making it, as you can tell by the wonderful quality of the finished product!
Once the video was done it was used here and there to send in to auditions and believe it or not did end up landing me a few different commercials that provided for some extra cash during my time in College, so I can’t put the video down too much. That being said I figured that was the end of it as I had pretty much stopped acting (other than a few stage shows here & there) and had pretty much forgotten the video even existed. That was until this past February when I was doing a google search on myself for a course I was taking that recommended we see what was out there on the web before graduating and applying for jobs. To my shock (and I’ll be honest, annoyance) I found that the video had been posted on YouTube by some viral video site without my permission. At first I reacted as almost anyone would, trying anything I could to get it taken down, but I soon realized that even reporting “copyright infringement” or “malicious intent” to YouTube was going nowhere & neither was the video…
The popularity of the clip spread pretty quickly and before I could even react the video had thousands of views and the comments were pouring in from people of all ages & backgrounds all over the world. To me this is where the phenomenon of social media/technology comes into play. If this had been even several years earlier it’s safe to say that once I forgot about the clips 4 years ago, so too would have everyone else. Thanks to the ability for anyone to post content from pretty much anywhere on outlets like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc, etc, the clip was able to spark an entirely new life of its own over 4 years later. I know that working in social media I have a bit of a bias towards finding these type of things profound or interesting, but to me the ability to take something as meaningless as an audition clip & cause thousands of people to find a connection through it (albeit it mainly making fun of me) is really astounding on so many different levels.
Once the video began getting popular it wasn’t too long before people I knew started asking me about it… how it got up there?, if I knew it was there?, did I post it myself?, when was it made?, why was it made?… just to name a few. Once again I figured this was just a temporary surge of attention & that the video would again suffer the death of so many other internet clips within a few weeks, but once again I was WRONG. After getting over my initial shock of the video & then the preceding embarrassment I began to just accept that it would be a smudge on my judgment at a young, naive age, but that if I didn’t learn to laugh at it I would drive myself crazy. On April 27th things began to get crazier as my video made it to the “big leagues” of the viral video world, appearing on the very popular Tosh.0 blog. This time I was informed by mostly everyone my age I knew (from back home & at school) that were fans/followers of the show. I myself must divulge I had never seen the show as I am not really a Comedy Central fan, so when I heard about it my initial reaction was “huh?”. I went to the blog to find the posting “Somebody Hire Brad Already!” which was just a rehashing of the original clip that had been put up on YouTube. The response from most people was that of excitement… someone they knew was on a national blog!!!… For me the response was “Oh, great”.
After I made it on the blog the comments from strangers around the internet intensified & at first I took most of what people were saying pretty personally (as I’m sure most of you would). The comments ranged from negative to hostile with a seldom positive sprinkle mixed in for good measure. As this is my blog I don’t feel the need to provide examples of the comments, but if you’d like to read them for your own enjoyment there are plenty of them and they are certainly not hard to find. Over time, as I already mentioned, the hardest part of this experience was learning to not take any of this seriously… by allowing comments from strangers who admittedly said these things to “feel better about themselves”, I was only feeding into what they wanted. While I knew I was best off just not reading the comments in general, it goes against human nature & curiosity to not, so I learned to just never respond to anything I read.
As April ended I had quite a few other things that took precedence over the video (graduating from college, finding a job & moving out of Boston to name a few). At this point I couldn’t even believe the video had caused so much attention & figured this really had to be the end of all the hullabaloo surrounding a silly viral video. However, this was not to be, as I made it through not even the month of May before receiving a call from a producer at Tosh.0 in LA. He expressed interest in doing an interview with me & Daniel through a webcam online (as they sometimes to for the lesser known web redemptions rather than pay to fly the person out). I was extremely skeptical at first, not wanting to bring anymore attention to the clip or myself, as I had just graduated and was solely focused on starting my new post-grad life out on the right foot. I told them I’d think about it & they told me they’d be in touch when they had more details.
Spring soon began to transition into summer and once again I received a phone call around mid-July expressing that they definitely had decided to use me for a web redemption (as the video had continued to gain viewers & comments online). Now however, they no longer wanted to just do a webcam interview, but instead fly me out to LA for the full Tosh.0 experience! This included a nice pay-day, air-fair, spending money for food & hotel expenses. Yes, that’s right… what started out as an audition tape had actually landed me a potential national TV acting gig… ironic huh?
I still was rather skeptical trying to balance the pros & cons knowing that by agreeing to do this I was opening myself up to a much LARGER audience of criticism and hostility. I decided that this wasn’t something I was really prepared to do and expressed to the show & the producers that I was too bogged down with work and life in general to take the trip out to LA. Well, let’s just say if nothing else the people who run Tosh.0 are persistent when they want something… they convinced Daniel Tosh to call my cell phone personally and leave me a voicemail expressing his desire to have me come spend the day with him in LA to shoot the episode… well who is going to be able to say no to a celebrity? Not me… point for Tosh.0
I agreed to do the episode after talking it over with my family and close friends & before I knew it had set the shoot date for early September. It would be an extremely quick trip (36 hours, most of which was spent on the plane getting out there & only one night actually in Los Angeles)… In the end I spent pretty much the entire time shooting the episode (other than sleeping in my hotel room) and then was right back on the red-eye home. To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever been more tired in my life, having to pull essentially two consecutive all-nighters in addition to the jet lag that accompanied an East Coast to West Coast trip & then back again. Shooting the episode itself was quite the experience (I could probably write an entire blog post on that alone). They really do treat their guests well & get you pretty much anything you need to feel comfortable. One example, was I asked if there was a Starbucks nearby and within a minute the producer had a PA running out to pick-up my order (when I was perfectly willing to go myself!)
Other than the free food, shooting the episode involved quite a bit of sitting around in the studio. The thing most people don’t realize is that to shoot even a 30 min TV show that consists mainly of material from the internet, the production takes 8+ hours. Aside from shooting all of the scenes included in my episode, I got to meet Daniel & talk with him a bit. He also invited me to stay and watch him shoot scenes that were ultimately used in another episode, which I appreciated since I didn’t have to worry about what I was doing and was able to just enjoy his hilarity for a bit! One note I’ve found extremely interesting is how frequently I’m asked the same question about him by almost everyone I talk to… “So is he gay???”… I realize that part of his character on the show is to come across in that light, but to be honest I don’t know how people expect me to answer that question… it’s not like he walks around with a sign on his forehead that reads “Yes I’m homosexual” or “NO I love women”. My answer is I wouldn’t be surprised either way… Aside from that he was a very down to earth guy who really only had one diva moment (yelling at a camera guy, who to be honest deserved it for asking the same stupid questions an upwards of three times).
After the episode was wrapped I headed right for the airport for my long red-eye flight back home (certainly no rest for the weary). Once I got back things were relatively calm as the producers would communicate with me back-and-forth, letting me know how the editing process was going, but nothing too exciting. Finally a few weeks later I received the “air-date”, which was set for October 11th (for those of you still with me, that’s about 8 months after the original YouTube clip was posted). By now I was excited, anxious and a multitude of other adjectives that you’re welcome to look up in a thesaurus. I decided to promote the airing myself over Facebook just as I’d do for a client since so many of my friends & family wanted to know when the episode would air. Again social media pokes its head into this story not only being responsible for the original recognition, but now for alerting the masses of the final product.
For the big premiere I had discussed several ideas with friends about having viewing parties & whatnot, but ultimately decided to watch it at home, in the safe confides of my house with my family… the thing people didn’t get was I hadn’t seen the episode whatsoever either, so I really had ZERO clue as to how it turned out. Once it began to air I honestly thought all of my electronics were going to overheat/explode. My phone wouldn’t stop vibrating and my computer went bizerk from all of the Facebook & Twitter updates. People I had never met before “friended” me & “followed” me in the hundreds simply because I appeared in one episode of a TV show. I knew that the attention would be turned to me as I had said earlier on, but never did I expect the outcome to be so intense so quickly. Following the airing I received a lot of favorable comments from family, friends (including people I hadn’t spoken to in YEARS) and even all those strangers, which seemed like night & day from what I had experienced up to that point.
Over this past month the attention has staggered off considerably (as expected), but every day I still receive a few more “fans” looking to connect with me via social media. Early on it was my intention to just reject everyone who tried to connect with me that I didn’t know. My friends would say “you’re not going to accept those requests, right?” At first I thought absolutely not, there are way too many creepers in the world, but then it hit me… who was I to reject these people? Obviously they took the time to seek me out & for whatever reason (wanted to make fun of me, wanted to learn more about me, etc) decided it was worth the time in their lives to find out more. Using common sense & my best judgment I began accepting people to a limited profile. This lists basic information about me that I was comfortable with anyone knowing (on Facebook) and my Twitter account is already open for anyone to follow who is interested in reading my vast and numerous thoughts day in and out.
Before I knew it I began receiving hundreds of messages & tweets from people in what I’ll equate to the modern-day “fan mail”. People reaching out to say they enjoyed the episode, thought I was cute, thought I should pursue acting seriously, etc. Of course there was the occasional “you suck” type of message, but for the most part the tables had completely turned from my original experience with people regarding the clip. I even had one girl ask to send me a poster/collage her and her friend put together of me. I was taken back that for how small & insignificant this whole thing was in the grand scheme of the entertainment world, that people felt that compelled to reach out & connect. That’s one thing that I love about the medium I work in… while connection can lead us down scary paths across the internet, it also allows us to connect with others, which in the past would have never been possible. The most common thing I hear from people when I respond to their first message is “I can’t believe you responded!” I find this funny because again, who am I to not respond? Of course I can’t respond to everyone right away with work & life in general taking up so much time, but I always do my best to get back to people at some point. I feel like I owe it to others to even just say hey & thanks for the support.
That essentially takes us to today. In the end I’m no different from 9 months ago when the clip was first posted. The biggest difference for me is the occasional person that spots me in public and asks “Hey, were you on Tosh.0???” It’s actually pretty funny to see people clearly batting around in their heads where they know me from, but once they realize it’s always that look of “O YA, TOSH!”
A few instances recently were at the Starbucks I go to everyday, the girls who work the drive-thru finally put two & two together. When they finally worked up the nerve to ask me if I had been on the show, I was met with an “OMG, OMG”, followed up with a few shrieks… again these are the same people I’ve been getting coffee from for months, so to me I thought this was absolutely hysterical. The second occurrence came at a local bar I was at with a few friends… I had a group of people come up to me and want to take pictures with me & just ask me questions about the show, which was quite the experience in its own right. Lastly on a recent flight home from NYC, where I attended a conference on Social Media for work, the guy seated next to me had been staring at me for quite a while. When I asked if there was a problem he apologized and asked if I by any chance had been on Tosh.0? When I told him I in fact had, he said “THANK GOD, it was killing me when I saw you at the gate, I kept wondering where I knew you from and I couldn’t figure it out… wait till I tell my kids, they love that show!”
The point of writing all of this was to express how vastly different my experience on the show was from when it started to where it is now. For each person that encounters a temporary moment of “fame” I can assure you the experience is unique for each. I put fame in quotes simply because I do not consider this a moment of fame whatsoever. When friends have asked (mostly joking) what fame is like, I usually respond with, “all 5 minutes of it were great.”
So that’s it, the whole Tosh.0 experience consolidated down into a 3600-word blog post. I hope you found this piece to be interesting or at least not the biggest waste of time you’ve ever experienced. If you haven’t seen the final episode & read through this entire thing just to find a link, here you are and I apologize for rambling (Brad the Actor’s Web Redemption). You can also see an extended interview of me with Tosh here (Extended Interview- Brad the Actor).
I’d love to hear some feedback if you feel like giving it. I’m sure I’ll get a good chunk of criticism from people not understanding why I’d bother writing this, thinking I’m trying to brag, but for those of you who took the time to read the entire thing I hope you see that is in no way what I attempted to do. I wanted to show how I personally was able to experience the power social media/technology can have, in my own life & how this in essence crossed over to the main-stream media. As I’ve done to this point I’m happy to connect with people on my Facebook (Friend Me), Twitter (Follow Me), Google+ (Circle Me), Foursquare (Add me), LinkedIn (Link with Me), or Instagram (Checkout my pics)… I know that’s a lot of Social Media networks, but it’s what I do for a living! Haha. I’ll do my best to get back to people one way or another. Also feel free to subscribe to my blog right here if you’re interested in reading about sports or marketing related issues, since that’s what I typically blog about.
Thanks again to everyone who has supported me to this point and to those of you who will continue to do so. You all are “without question” the best!