As the social media generation continues to push for LGBTQ visibility, YouTube has steadily become a saturated platform for young voices and talents. Queer kids have found role models in the likes of self-starters Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, and Todrick Hall, among others.
But one name that's breaking through that uplifting queer mold of the "It Gets Better" generation is Brandon Rogers. You might recognize him from videos like "Things All Gays Say" and "Mother Making a Difference." He portrays a diverse range of characters with zero shame.
His particular brand of humor may not be suited for the likes of Oakley's teenage fanbase, but Rogers has managed to carve out a niche, yet vast audience. His satirical stance exploits the stereotypes that plague our society, while making fun of every group without discrimination. Although some might find it offensive, he promises an unbiased comedic experience in an era that demands a political message with every piece of artistic expression.
We recently caught up with Rogers, following his win at this year's Streamy Awards. Just off his first comedy tour, he's hard at work on a brand-new podcast while continuing to make the unabashedly hilarious video content he's known for. He spoke about American comedy, queer characters, and his recent coming out.
You just won at the Streamy Awards. How did that feel?
It was amazing. Three years ago, it wouldn't have meant anything to me. I was so removed from the internet world and had no idea what the Streamy's even were. It is quite coveted, it's like the Oscars. People in the industry take it very seriously, which I didn't expect going into this. But this is my second Streamy win, and I'm very honored because I know most YouTubers don't even get one, let alone two. I never thought that I would get comedy. Comedy is such a big category. It's really the only category I wanted to be nominated for last year.
You have a lot of really funny characters. What's your process for creating these new personalities?
I think my process is just a lot of eating and shitting. I like to watch a lot of TV. I love to watch a lot of comedy. I go on YouTube, and I watch so much garbage that I have a very distinct taste of what I would want if I was a viewer. Because as a kid, I've always been fascinated by the world of fiction on television, at the movies, and so I really feel like the more you ingest that world of make believe, the more you feel almost instinctively able to recreate it through film. Whatever I'm watching, I start shooting stuff in the vein of what I've been inspired by, what I've been eating up. I love comedians like Chris Lilley or Matt Lucas or Sacha Baron Cohen, really just any comedian who isn't American. I love the ability of being a chameleon and making people laugh because it's all coming from you and your sense of humor, but the characters are like different Instagram filters through which you can dispense that humor. So, I use the different characters as a way to satire that demographic that they come from, and I feel like I just don't see a lot of that in American comedy, certainly not on YouTube.
You also play on some stereotypes. Have you gotten any backlash for that satirical style of humor?
Not really. I really thought I would. The world is a tricky place because it seems like we're much more easily offended today, more than ever. But I feel like my videos are just so over the top, you really can't begin to take them seriously. I hope that they're a refreshing change in this very stilted and kind of walking-on-eggshells society that we've become recently. I make sure to poke fun in every direction. I myself am racially, religiously, and sexually ambiguous. No one really knows what I am. I'm not really committed to a heritage that I'm proud of or a people that I represent. I'm very much made up of many ethnicities. I've been many religions in my lifetime, and I've been many sexualities. So, I don't feel any bias in any direction of the minority spectrum. Really, nothing offends me, and I'm not in allegiance with any group. So, I think people can sense that -- or at least I hope they do --that my videos come with no message or no political side, that they're just comedy for the sake of comedy. Because I'm really not that passionate about representing any type of people or belittling any type of people. They're all just kind of equal to me.
Would you say that's needed today, just humor for humor's sake?
Here's the thing about political humor. People say, "How do you get away with being so offensive and not getting backlash?" Well, even the best political humor comes with a message. You can still tell what the writer's political stance is based on the writing. And I don't like having anyone be able to decode what side of the fence I'm sitting on on any topic when I write a comedic video. My videos are strictly meant to poke fun at the surface value of any person, place, or thing. I think it's necessary to have some humor that doesn't have a message. I feel like most humor we see has a message behind it, and some people like that. Some people like to go to the movies and have their morals spit back at them, but it's really quite repulsive for people who aren't on the same side as you. I don't like that being a factor that might turn people off my work if they can see what my opinions are through the topic that I'm writing. There are enough comedians out there who have their opinions stated very clearly through their work. I take pride in being a comedian who strictly goes for laughs and really not much more.
So, you just came out this year?
It's funny, being in the closet was strictly my choice. I'm kind of the opposite case you hear of any gay kid. My parents were very liberal, and they were almost coaxing me to come out. I think they knew I was gay from early, at a young age. And they really tried to make me feel welcome to come out. But I grew up in a very conservative town, and the school that I went to, it wasn't even an idea. It was just a general knowledge that being gay was not just wrong but silly and unattractive. So, I kept myself in the closet, even though I had a family who was welcoming me out of it with open arms. Then I moved to Los Angeles, and I quickly lost that veil of, "I need to be in the closet." I never really came out, but when my parents started asking or brought it up, I never denied it. I never had the glory of a coming out day. I just one day stopped denying it to anyone. Some people were offended, like legitimately upset that I didn't have a coming out time. It's like they wanted it to be some sort of event. I think a lot of people expected that I would make a video out of it or that there would be some kind of an announcement, but I never had a coming out. I never officially announced that I was gay, I just sort of decided that I was sick of the closet.
Since coming out, would you say you found these gay characters that you've come up with to be kind of a fun outlet in exploring that side of yourself?
I think the gay characters, they are a representation of not just the town that I grew up in, but really a lot of America's views on what a gay person is. My gay character is a satire of how so many homophobic people look at gay people because for so long in my life, I pretended to be straight, and I sort of looked at the gay kids in my school like how I portray that character, just over the top and ridiculous. And realistically, that's not what defines any gay person's character, but if there was a gay person who was accurately manifested through the opinions of a homophobic person, that's what that gay person would look like. So, he's sort of my take on the stereotypes manifesting into being a real person.
You've been touring recently, right?
Yeah, we're just kind of bouncing all over the country, but it's been fun. This is the first time I'm really seeing what the life of a traveling comedian is like, and the different cultures and how they react to my humor. I think that everyone at least likes the sense of humor, like the shows really get people laughing. I think that there's certain things that different cities find funnier than others. And it's nice to meet my fans and not just see them as a comment. Most of the time, my interaction with my fans is either through a DM or a comment, but to say a joke to a room filled with laughter and to get that immediate gratification, there's a whole different energy to doing live performances.
And you just started a podcast?
Yes, we are a few episodes deep. It's called Deep Balls with Brandon Rogers, and we kind of talk about deep topics with a really dark, sick sense of humor. It's just a place for people to get to know me outside of the character work I do.
Listen to Deep Balls with Brandon Rogershere. And see more of his videos here.