UPDATE, December 10, 2014: Blake Grisby was just at Christkindlmarket Chicago — the annual outdoor Christmas Market outside of Daley Center, where he unveiled his “Mistletoe Kissing Contraption.” Check it out below, and then check out the interview The Chicago Ambassador did with him last month!
Blake Grigsby is a 21-year-old actor and DePaul University student who has mastered the art of going viral on YouTube. Known most for giving compliments to strangers, Grigsby is hoping the exposure of his videos (numbering in the millions) will help his budding acting and comedic career. He took a few moments recently to chat with The Chicago Ambassador.
Interviewed by Bob Chiarito for The Chicago Ambassador.
CA) What was your first video?
GRIGSBY) The first one was something called “Trust Fall Attack” from a couple years ago. It got 1.8 million views. The second video that really went viral was called “Kiss me I’m desperate” and has like 15 million views.
CA) How do you come up with the ideas for these videos?
GRIGSBY) A lot of the ideas come from hanging out and talking about different ideas. We did one video in my hometown of Naperville, IL but the reaction was a lot more fun here in Chicago.
CA) Why do you think that was — were the people in the suburbs scared?
GRIGSBY) I think in the city you’re used to hearing cars drive by.
CA) The first time I saw “Drive By Compliments” I wondered how many times you got the finger from people. Did you get any negative reactions like that?
GRIGSBY) I don’t think so. Compliments don’t really backfire unless they’re insincere.
CA) You mean what you say — you’re not just doing it for a reaction?
GRIGSBY) Exactly. I try to be as honest as I can. Sometimes the compliments are a little more superficial like ‘I like your shoes!’ or something like that.
CA) It’s mainly things that pop into your head?
GRIGSBY) Yeah, It’s very situational.
CA) You have a friend driving and someone filming?
CA) The main takeaway one gets from watching your videos is how much you make people smile. How does that make you feel?
GRIGSBY) I think it’s the best kind of videos. The key to going viral in my world, is the more smiles I get on video the better chance it has of being successful on the Internet.
CA) Have you been approached or tried to make a show out of it along the lines of “Impractical Jokers”?
GRIGSBY) There are a few things going on right now. We’re working on some web series on my web channel, but scripted and non-scripted.
CA) What surprised you the most doing these videos?
GRIGSBY) I think a lot of our ideas surprised me. I didn’t have a real process. I’m surprised by how supportive my audience can be.
CA) You filmed in New York also?
GRIGSBY) I did one at 7:30 a.m. and all of a sudden all these people walked by in a rush to get to work and didn’t respond. I’m sure that would happen in Chicago if I did it in the Loop versus where I did it in Lincoln Park.
CA) Have any of the random strangers you’ve encountered taught you anything about human nature?
GRIGSBY) I think I’m very conversational and that complimenting is incredibly easy and it’s taken very positively. I do it by yelling out of a car with a megaphone, possibly the worst way possible, and it still works.
CA) Why do you think it’s so surprising to people to get a compliment?
GRIGSBY) I think people are surprised because unfortunately it doesn’t happen a lot. We say it and we go, so we aren’t looking for something in return which is kind of how it should be — you shouldn’t expect something in return for a compliment.
CA) Watching the hugging video, the thing that strikes the viewer is how many people seemed to need a hug and really appreciated it.
GRIGSBY) They acted like they won the lottery. Most walked up with a dollar expecting to pay me and then all of sudden I gave them the dollar and they were like ‘this is amazing!’
CA) You’re at DePaul still?
GRIGSBY) Yes, I’m my junior year studying digital cinema
CA) Do you do any improv?
GRIGSBY) I’m studying at Improv Olympic and the Second City Conservatory
CA) What’s your ultimate goal?
GRIGSBY) I’d love to be a professional actor
CA) You seem like a pretty positive person. It seems like you’d probably be complimenting people regardless if you had a camera recording it or not – would you agree?
GRIGSBY) Yeah, I think when I do it in my videos it’s more heightened than how I do it in real life. It’s more of a character, but the positivity is something that is always there. I do carry the megaphone in my car and do sometimes dole out compliments if the urge hits me –
CA) without the cameras on?
GRIGSBY) Yeah, just for fun.