Alx James on Comedy, Being a “Label Whore” and the End of Vine
What’s Trending host Shira Lazar announced Viner, YouTuber and comedian Alx James as a “funny queen” for his appearance on the What’s Trending Podcast, and Alx wasn’t complaining.
“You would rather be a Queen than a King,” he said, “because the King is the one who’s looking over the castle, but the Queen is like ‘This is my place, this is my palace,’ and the King listens to the Queen. So if I want people to listen to me, of course I want to be the Queen.”
Speaking with Shira and co-host Jonathan Harris, he explained how he developed the character of Alx James to get past his personal anxieties and channel his creativity.
“It’s a persona that i don’t always act like. Whenever I turn on the camera, I turn into this Alx James persona where — can you cuss on this thing? — I don’t give a fuck, I say what I want to, and if people don’t like it, goodbye! I love how the internet allows you to just be whoever you want to be.”
Originally from North Carolina, Alx used his unique brand of comedy to gain around 700,000 subscribers on YouTube and more than 7 million followers on Vine. He recently launched a new app called Waterbug Army (named after his fans, the “waterbugs”) where his followers can connect with each other.
He said he became a content creator when he realized making comedy on the internet was his way to move up in the world. Eventually he quit school and left his small town for Los Angeles.
“I’m a creative person and I will always be able to create, so it wasn’t necessarily, ‘Oh, what am I going to do next?’ For me, it was, ‘What is the next step?’ I came from a hometown of a thousand people, so I always had an ambition to get out of that town.”
An early indication that he wasn’t meant for small town life was being called a “label whore” by his friends.
“Here’s the thing — I was one of the only people in my hometown as a sophomore, junior, senior who was rocking Gucci and Burberry and Louis Vuitton. It’s not even because I could afford it, I would just save up a shit-ton of money and buy a bunch of this stuff, and be like ‘I’ll be broke for another six months!’”
Alx explained how he got started on Vine and carved out a niche for himself just doing six-second rants about his day while sitting in his car — but as time went on, he began to realize that Vine wasn’t doing enough for its creators, and made the jump to YouTube instead.
“If I’m going to be doing this and spending my time creating content, where’s my income coming from? And a lot of people are like ‘You’re selling out!’ and I’m like ‘No, bitch, I’m getting this money so that I can continue making videos so that you can watch it!’”
The reason why Vine is failing, he says, is because it doesn’t respect that creating content is a full-time career for people like him.
“People would have stayed on Vine if they would have did what YouTube did — when I reach a million followers, send me a plaque! No one wants to be a part of somewhere where they feel like they’re not respected, they’re not appreciated.”
Alx, Shira and Jonathan also chatted about the latest trending stories, such as Amy Schumer getting angry about being called “plus sized,” and they played a game of “Explain Your Tweets” where Alx told the story behind some of his more outrageous comments.