‘Steal From The Best’ – Barely Political’s Mark Douglas [Interview]

It’s always fun to hear from successful YouTubers about how they got into YouTube, how they worked their way up the charts and what advice they would give to wannabe YouTube stars.  Here’s the latest in our series of YouTube Partner interviews—an interview with Mark Douglas of Barely Political.  I met Mark at The Digitour show last week at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA, where he and his wife Anastasia performed a few of the most popular parody songs from Barely Political’s The Key Of Awesome.  Mark was kind enough to answer some questions for me after the show, via email.  Read on to find out what he had to say.

Before I get to my interview with Mark, here’s a little bit of history on Barely Political.  Barely Political hit YouTube back in June of 2007 with Obama Girl’s hit song ‘I’ve Got a Crush On Obama’.  According to the Barely Political website, Obama Girl’s video “quickly made us one of the most talked about and blogged about political satire sites online.”  Since, Barely Political has expanded beyond politics including sketch shows like The Key of Awesome, which spoofs celebrities, pop-culture and the latest Internet memes.  The Key of Awesome clocked in at the second most-viewed video of 2010 with their Kesha parody, ‘Glitter Puke’.

Mark got involved with Barely Political early on.  He told me, “My comedian friend Rusty Ward was the main writer for Barely Political in late 2007 when they first started.  He brought me in to do some voiceover work because he knew I could do a lot of impressions.  I did that for a while and then I started writing songs for the channel.  My first big BP hit song was called Political Sex Scandals.  I eventually got hired to wrote for them full time in the summer of 2008.”

Before joining up with the Barely Political team, Mark wasn’t really involved with YouTube.  He told me, “I mostly just did live performing and some TV prior to Barely Political.”  But now that he’s part of the Barely Political team he basically spends all of his time working on songs and videos for the video site.  He says he spends somewhere around 50 hours a week creating stuff for YouTube.  “I don’t do much outside of YouTube.  I think you’d get the same answer from any successful YouTuber.  It’s fun, but super demanding, that’s why it’s important to make sure you’re making content that you personally like/love.  It’s hard to say how my time is divided up.  I do a bit of everything, but I consider myself a comedy writer, so I try to make writing my main focus.”

So how did Mark feel when Glitter Puke grabbed the number 2 spot for the most-viewed videos of 2010?  He says, “I was really happy, but also super jealous that I got beat again by my arch rivals, The Gregory Brothers.  Just kidding, I looooove the Gregory Brothers.  They are probably the most talented people I know, and I’m happy if people even put us in the same league.”  The Gregory Brothers took the number 1 spot in 2010 with their ‘Bed Intruder Song’, but joined Mark and Anastasia on stage at The Digitour to perform their hit parody, ‘Glitter Puke’.  Check out our video of the performance below.

Finally, I asked Mark the question that every YouTube partner is probably sick and tired of hearing—what advice would you give to someone trying to make their way up the YouTube charts?  He told me, “Steal from the best, but try to put your own spin on everything you do.  I write a lot of parodies to popular songs, and sometimes I don’t particularly like the artist or the song.  I realized early on that it’s okay to admit that, and write that.  If it’s written well enough, and contains a grain of truth, the fans of that artist will still appreciate it.  Ultimately, you have to let people see your real personality and let them know who you really are.  I can’t think of one successful YouTuber that doesn’t have a strong personality, and doesn’t put it all out there.”

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.