Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
Greg Benson is no stranger to YouTube. The 46-year old man behind the Mediocre Films YouTube channel has released videos since 2006, making him one of YouTube’s most experienced veterans. In recent years, Benson has focused his efforts on his prank videos, which regularly score millions of views and recently helped him reach the million subscriber plateau. Here’s what Greg had to say about his work on YouTube:
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Greg Benson: It’s a number I can’t really comprehend — just like the view counts. I just can’t get a mental image of that many people. I’m honored, thrilled and delighted I have so many people who are interested to see what I have to post next. I always thought my sense of humor was so specific that it wouldn’t appeal to most people (which is probably true), but I’m so thankful there are so many people out there who like to laugh at the same things I laugh at.
TF: You’ve been around on YouTube for a long time. What do you think has been the biggest change in the YouTube community over the past six years?
GB: Too many changes to list, but in my mind, the biggest videos that weren’t making a mark at the start include video games, cooking shows, makeup tutorials…and then came along YouTube’s big algorithm change which favored longer, more engaged watch times. That’s the thing that made us all rethink our strategies.
TF: Any chance you’ll bring back Retarded Policeman? If you did, is there anything about it you would do differently?
GB: I have a special place in my heart for Ponce and that show, but I’m having too much fun and success with the pranks right now to make new plans for any of my old series. I suppose you never know what the future holds, though.
TF: A lot of your most viewed videos on Mediocre Films feature salacious thumbnails. Does that make you feel weird at all?
GB: Nope. I’m a guy and I like guy things.
TF: You directed a few episodes of The Guild back in the day. What do you think made it such a successful and influential web series?
GB: The combination of a terrific, relatable story appealing to a very large, niche audience, Felicia‘s incredible talent as a writer and performer (as well as a great cast), and Kim Evey‘s knowledge and skill as a cutting edge new media producer.
TF: What the most upset you’ve ever made someone while pranking them?
GB: I thought it would be funny to pat people on the shoulder while talking to them, and then leave a piece of ham on their shoulder. (It was inspired by the only funny bit in Caddyshack II.) But one guy really was not a fan of the ol’ ham shoulder, so he punched me in the throat. Because of that, the title of that video changed from “Ham Shoulder Prank” to “I GOT PUNCHED IN THE THROAT!”
TF: On a similar note, why do you think YouTube prank videos have seen such a huge rise in popularity in the past year and a half?
GB: Because they’re fun and they feature real reactions from real people. Practical jokes and pranks have always been popular with audiences, and I grew up watching Allen Funt and listening to Coyle & Sharpe records. My first video to be featured on the YouTube front page was a prank, “Greg Hits Hollywood” (in which I hit interviewees in the face with a microphone) in October 2006. I’m actually surprised pranks took this long to catch on in a big way.
TF: Do you have a regular posting schedule, or do you only post new videos when you have an idea for one? What do you when you’re not making videos?
GB: I try to stick to a weekly schedule, although the upload day varies. (I prefer Sundays if I have a video ready that day.) But if things get too busy or if the video I shot that week isn’t good enough to release, then I’ll skip a week. I stay pretty busy as a director and actor for hire, working on a lot of projects that my subscribers will never see. Also, I always put life and relationships first so that sometimes keeps me from hitting a regular upload schedule.
TF: What’s next? Any fun plans on the horizon?
GB: I’m really excited about my latest video, Feeding the Homeless, which isn’t so much a prank as it is a huge surprise for about 50 homeless people. Although it’s not funny, it’s probably one of the best videos I’ve ever had the honor to make. After that I’ll keep working week to week shooting whatever I think is funny. There are certain pranks that I’ll always go back to because I enjoy shooting them and they resonate with my subscribers, like Cell Phone Crashing and the Shopping List Pranks. Plus there are some TV plans that I’m not supposed to talk about.