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“If there is any number underneath the video, someone is listening, and that person has value.”
With 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute by 1 billion users in 61 countries, it may be hard to believe, but I maintain all of YouTube is essentially connected by seven degrees of separation from Mike Falzone.
But despite his all-star roster of fans—including the Vlogbrothers, Tyler Oakley, Olan Rogers, and Coley O’Toole—and enviable collaborations with such creators as Meghan Tonjes, SourceFedNERD, and Hannah Witton, Falzone doesn’t seem to realize just how influential and beloved his content has become in the eight years since he first started his channel. When it comes down to it, everyone knows Mike Falzone—from creators he’s inspired along the way, including Akilah Hughes (SmoothieFreak) and Gunarolla, to the most novice of YouTube viewers.
Falzone originally joined YouTube to promote his musical pursuits. He began touring as a musician at just 14, and in his late teens, discovered his passion for comedy as well. And thus began the internal tug of war: Music or comedy?
“I think people like you based on how much of yourself comes through, like how much of your uniqueness or your voice, and so I just kept making things and eventually, [I] just found what made me come out the most and I think that was the combination of music and comedy,” shares Falzone, who, just minutes prior, had yelled at me that compliments weirded him out and he would hear no more of mine.
His channel is now a mix of biweekly vlogs about relationships and life, music videos, awkward interviews with popular YouTubers such as Elliot Morgan, Meghan Tonjes, and Chris Thompson—and everything in between.
The thing that sets Falzone apart as a creator is his ability to reach through the screen and make viewers feel as if they’re having a conversation with their oldest, and dearest friend. (Ha, a compliment! Gotcha, Falzone.) And he genuinely appreciates every single viewer that tunes in.
“You know, there are a millions things to bitch about for YouTube, [but] you have to remind yourself that you’re pointing a camera at yourself, saying stuff that you think is funny and other people like it. That’s nuts!” laughs Falzone. “All you have to do is step back, and have the perspective, like: Picture 9,000 people, picture 500 people, and picture them all looking at you, and telling you that they liked what you just made. That’s fucking nuts. That’s crazy, and I feel like that keeps you motivated. If there is any number underneath the video, someone is listening, and that person has value.”
In a YouTube culture obsessed with subscriber counts and view time, Falzone is a refreshing voice in the fray. With each moment of our interview, I can’t help but be inspired by his “live life to the fullest in the funnest, funniest way possible” attitude, and wonder how he’s able to do all this while still balancing a full plate of outside projects.
From his YouTube videos, Falzone has had the opportunity to expand his fireside chats into Welcome to the Podcast, a weekly podcast with his girlfriend; hilarious ongoing series including “Making Women Happy” and “Historically Speaking”; records; consistent appearances on YouTube Nation; and a book, Never Stop Shutting Up: A Book of Advice and Other Things You Didn’t Ask For.
“I had a pretty big health scare a few years back, that kind of just forced me to slow down and learn about life and love life so much,” states Falzone. His golden advice? “Don’t waste time, don’t squander opportunities, and don’t not work hard.”
Less than a year ago, Falzone, who previously resided in Connecticut, made the big move to Los Angeles in the pursuit of music, stand-up, and YouTube. He’s working toward making another album, a second book, and acting in a scripted series—something he’s never done before.
“If you have the opportunity to do something, if people think I’m funny enough and talented enough to do shit out here, then if I want to, and I have a love for it, I owe it to myself to try,” explains Falzone on his no-regrets policy. “No one is ever going to work harder for you than you.”
Photo via mikefalzone/YouTube
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.