He’s funny, punny and wildly talented. Meet Randy Rainbow, the viral YouTube star responsible for making millions laugh.
What do Debra Messing, Steve Martin and Ana Navarro have in common? They’re all fans of Randy Rainbow—a comedian, actor, singer and satirist famous for his short, self-produced musical parodies and political spoofs. His Emmy-nominated YouTube series, The Randy Rainbow Show, is so popular that it’s turned into a tour that has Rainbow traveling across the country to make you LOL IRL.
Here, Rainbow talks his rise to social media stardom and gives us a sneak peek into his upcoming (and star-studded) Christmas album and his show at the Fillmore.
Tell us how you got into musical comedy.
RANDY RAINBOW: I really started off with an interest in musical theater. My parents put me on the stage from a young age. I was in ballet and theater camp and all of that stuff. Musical comedy was always my passion. But then I jumped to New York and I put performing on hold for a while and was finding myself. I had a blog and started talking about my personal life and things like that, and that ended up turning into commentary on pop culture. Once I noticed that I had some eyes on me from the blog, the performer in me kicked in and I said, Let me put myself on camera. So I did my first video, it was called “Randy Rainbow is Dating Mel Gibson.” It was back during his horrible racist and misogynistic rants. I did a series of videos walking around my apartment having romantic phone conversations with Mel Gibson. And it took off and I got even more of a following. That’s kind of how this gimmick was born with me inserting myself into the headlines. And I just stuck with it, and it had a slow and steady following. And then 2016 happened and I was given material like I never had before, and it went to the next level.
Did you ever imagine that you’d go from viral YouTube star to headlining your own tour?
RR: It’s quite bizarre. When I started on this path, I didn’t know where it was going to lead me. But for some reason, I stuck with it. And I always knew I’d go back to being on stage doing music and comedy. I’m very fortunate to come up in the YouTube era and use that as a resource. I’m so grateful for the timing of my life and the fact that that’s possible right now.
Your videos are starting conversations on important issues through social media. What’s it like to see that you’re having such a profound impact?
RR: That’s a really cool byproduct that I never anticipated. My goal is always to be amusing. But if you do comedy right, I think that there is inevitably an amount of truth that comes through with that. And at a time when truth and accountability are endangered, I think that people doing comedy around that are automatically seen as whistleblowers and truth tellers, and people are so grateful for that. I do hear thank you more than I ever thought I would. I’m just trying to be silly and sing songs and make jokes. But I do hear from parents and teachers who tell me that they use my videos as a teaching tool for their kids, and that’s a huge responsibility and something I consider when I do my part.
What can Miami expect during your show?
RR: It’s basically me in concert. It’s me and my band, which is a Broadway caliber band. I’ve pulled musicians from broadway shows, so they’re really awesome. And I’m doing my greatest hits! There will be a giant screen behind me, and a lot of the video elements that people are familiar with from the videos online. And that segues into the songs, and I do them there live on stage. And there’s some stand up woven in, some Q&A and audience participation and, of course, a lot of political commentary with all the material that’s popular now.
We hear you’re releasing an album soon…
RR: I’m working on a Christmas album, which is very exciting for me. It’s kind of like an extended EP, it’s seven tracks. I’ve been given the opportunity to collaborate with a lot of people. Marc Shaiman, who wrote Hairspray and Mary Poppins Returns and a trillion other things collaborated with me. Kathy Griffin makes an appearance. Alan Cumming does a duet with me. There will also be an appearance by Broadway’s Norm Lewis, and Lorna Luft is singing a very well known Christmas song. So needless to say, it’s very special to me. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a Christmas album, even though I’m a nice Jewish boy from Fort Lauderdale.
Advice to aspiring YouTubers?
RR: Just go for it! This is the time. I’m kind of an old millennial — I have a foot in the time before YouTube was even a thing and you had to do things the old fashioned way and pound the pavement and send the material around and go on cattle calls. I have a very deep appreciation for the possibility of creating my own business and production from my living room. Take full advantage of that and put it out there. There is an audience for everyone, so don’t second guess yourself!
Tickets at randyrainbow.com/tour
Photography by: Photos courtesy of Randy Rainbow