Jack Vale is not new to the scene. His YouTube channel has gotten millions of views and more than 1oo thousand subscribers. But the funny thing about the internet is… you never know when your career could explode.
Cue the explosion.
His videos are simple, his style uncomplicated. And yet, they illicit riotous laughter and a huge fan following.
Recently a link to one of his “Paranoid” videos made the rounds on the blogs after appearing on BUZZFEED. Vale, cell phone in hand, is following people around a Target store, reciting to a voiceless person on the other end very specificdetails about what each shopper/victim is doing. The shoppers slowly catch on that something isn’t right about this seemingly innocent gentleman just behind them… for reasons unbeknownst to them, he’s reporting to someone exactly what they’re doing. Seeing the confusion unfold, complete with suspenseful music stings, is nothing short of hysterical.
Then there’s his ‘Pooter’ series, which isn’t as dirty as it sounds, but still on the ‘so gross it’s funny’ side. Complete with a modern day ‘flatulence simulator,’ he’s seen casually walking around a store, standing in an elevator, virtually anywhere, really – and doing the unthinkable… making those body noises – without flinching – as the horrified, amused, and stunned passersby react – all on camera.
And like that, a star is born. Today’s Pop Profile: Jack Vale.
What made you start doing this?
In high school me and a buddy used to mess around like that We would pretend we had an earbud in our ear and act like we were undercover security. So one day I was in the store and I was just kind of messing with people and thought it would be a funny new series.
Then, I thought it would be funny if I started describing every ridiculous move they were making – so I did. I think that’s what ended up making it funnier and I think honestly that’s gotta be why the videos took off.
In a few cases, you can see that you’re trying not to crack up It really makes it feel like we’re right here, laughing along with you
For me it’s hysterical! Sometimes its hard to hold back the laughter I can see when somebody is looking at me. Like in the one where the old lady is reaching up for the glove right as I’m talking about her picking them out. She stops dead and looks at me! I love those moments. People don’t know who I am – they don’t know who I’m talking to – who am I? Why am I doing this?
Most of the time it seems like people don’t confront you – they just look puzzled it’s as is you’re a bad private detective or stalker not at all discreet about monitoring what they’re doing. How often do people stop you and ask what’s going on?
About fifty/fifty. When I am confronted it’s still a big fat question mark over their head. They’re still not sure I’m talking about them. They’re thinking: ‘There is no way this guy could really be describing me!’ That’s the best part – that’s the fun part – watching them stop dead in their tracks and look at me and try to figure out what I’m up to.
Have you heard from anyone at Target? Are they asking you to leave their customers alone?
Not from management or anything, no. The employees will sometimes discover later that they’re on youtube sometimes I’ll go in and the employees see me and go ‘Hey jack!’ It’s getting harder to go out locally – I have to go out on the outskirts of town now.
Obviously you have a great comic sensibility – have you ever done standup?
I love doing pranks and sketches on camera but I’ve never tried standup. I never had the guts to get up onstage and get booed.
This fascinates me! Because while a lot of people are discovering your ‘Paranoid’ series of videos many many others are fans of your ‘Pooter’ series. I don’t know how else to say it – but essentially you’re in a public place with a modern day version of a whoopie cushion that you call a ‘Pooter.’ And essentially – you’re recording people’s reactions to your very public flatulence. You’re afraid to go onstage but you aren’t intimidated by, well, farting in public? It goes against everything we’re taught! It’s one of the last taboos being flatulent, out loud in a public place. Wasn’t it hard to do that at first?
The first handful of videos it was hard. And in fact I didn’t get a lot of good reactions because it was so quiet I was scared to death to make it too loud and I was really intimidated. You’re absolutely 100 percent right – at that point I could still go out and do any kind of pranks, but there is something about farting in a quiet situation among strangers – even though its fake I was really intimidated. But after the first time I did it – after those first hysterical reactions – it became so much fun the rush overwhelmed me.
I’m sure the rush overwhelmed the people hearing you too! The reactions are truly hysterical!
But what people may not realize is that this ‘Pooter’ device – that makes these incredibly, well, realistic body noises – is your own invention!
Yeah! I created it – but the idea has been around forever. It was a product that came out years ago and about 15 years ago I picked one up at a gag shop that was very similar. You squeezed it and air came out and it was my favorite little thing – but once it wore out I couldn’t get it anymore! I looked everywhere! I found out the company went under and they weren’t going to make any more, and the patent ran out in the early 90s. I woke up one day and thought: ‘Everyone has got to have one of these things!” So I tweaked it and redesigned it and started mass producing and manufacturing it on my own. Since I watch YouTube videos all the time, I thought it would be funny if I went out and made a fart video to promote it. To this day I have never spent a dollar on advertising. I sell about 1500 of these out of our little home office every month.
I ended up having 150 farting in public videos. I still do them!
I still can’t imagine having the guts to do this in public. I don’t know if I could work up the guts.
I think where I got the humor from was my stepdad as a kid … he was the kind of guy – when I was a kid he would take me to Walmart and he would fart in public for real! And he would just laugh! I like to reflect back and think about my childhood and I know in my heart that he had a lot to do with it.
Now your videos are really exploding. (No pun intended.) But you’ve been doing them for a while… you’ve got more than 100 of them. Was viewership always steady? Was there a moment where things started to change?
It had been really steady for the past year for sure. But all of a sudden about a week and a half ago ‘Paranoid’ and the ‘Nonsense’ videos starting going insane.
What does your family think of all this?
I’m a married guy with five kids. They’re between six months and 14 years. My kids – especially the boys – they go to school and their friends know who I am! So it’s a lot of fun to take them out to places with their friends. Their dad farts in public for a living! My daughter is nine and she has the same sense of humor – she wants me to go out and film her doing it but I don’t want to put her on YouTube too much.
Has Hollywood called?
I’ve got meetings lined up with Paramount and all these companies that have contacted me they want me in this move or that movie – creating a prank show – it’s absolutely bizarre!
Something happened with one or two of these videos and they landed on these casting desks. I just can’t believe it.
So up to now, you’ve been making your living selling this prank machine?
That’s our bread and butter, and I make money from the advertising on YouTube too so that’s it.
I gotta tell you – I have never once taken it for granted. For probably the first year and a half to two years we have been able to make it full time doing this. I can’t think of anything better than making prank videos and making people laugh and earning a living for my family. It’s so much fun.