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Lexi Cohen wants to be very clear about one thing: her boyfriend Austin is “the simp king.”
“He was the simp king before simp was even a term,” she says. “Austin Shapiro is the one and only simp king. There will never be another person that has that title ever.”
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We agreed to dissuade any royal challengers, so we’re ticking that box right off the bat.
In case you haven’t seen Cohen and Shapiro across YouTube (where they have 1.6 million subscribers) and TikTok (5 million followers) yet, they’re a tight-knit couple whose content is pure comedy–with, of course, a healthy dose of simping.
Tune in to any one of Cohen and Shapiro’s videos, and you wouldn’t think that the first time they met, they hated each other. But they did! Well…sort of. They first encountered one another in class; they were both majoring in film at High Point University, and had a bright-and-early 8 a.m. lecture together. Shapiro (maybe predictably) was a fan of Cohen right away–“I sat next to the prettiest girl in class,” he chirps.
For Cohen, though, things were not promising. She’s not a morning person, and Shapiro came in “on batteries” to each class, she says: “I think, at first, it was not the best relationship.”
That changed once they were reintroduced outside of class, at a more human hour, by some mutual friends. There, they hit it off immediately. They ended up doing their class project together, “and then the rest is history,” Shapiro says.
After that, the road from classmates to friends to dating to deciding to do content together was pretty smooth. They started dating in 2020, just before COVID hit, and when they came back to school that fall semester, everyone and their mother was on TikTok. Shapiro wasn’t a big social media guy, but Cohen decided to make a TikTok account and starting posting for her “10 or 12 friends,” she says. She estimates she posted around 100 videos where she was the only person in them.
Then she posted one with Shapiro, and it instantly went viral.
Now, both Cohen and Shapiro have graduated from college and are pursuing content together as their full-time thing. They’re hoping that with the platform they’ve built on their short-form videos, they’ll be able to draw an audience to longer-form projects–exactly the kind of stuff they went to film school to make.
Check out our chat with them below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Give me a little bit of background for anyone who’s reading this and isn’t familiar with you! Where are you from and how did you meet?
Lexi Cohen: I am from Massachusetts. Oh, should we introduce ourselves? Let’s do that. My name is Lexi Cohen.
Austin Shapiro: I’m Austin Shapiro.
Lexi Cohen: I am from Massachusetts.
Austin Shapiro: I’m from Long Island, New York.
Lexi Cohen: He is from New York. We met in High Point, North Carolina, because we went to school together at High Point University.
Austin Shapiro: We took our senior capstone. Actually, she’s a year older than me. She was a senior at the time, I was a junior. We were in our final class for our major, and we actually despised each other.
Lexi Cohen: I was about to say, we actually didn’t like each other our first encounter. We low-key hated each other a little bit.
Austin Shapiro: Three months did.
Tubefilter: What was the change?
Lexi Cohen: He was like…The class is at nine o’clock in the morning and he would come into class and he was loud. He was a loud kid. Just come in on batteries every single morning. Of course, who did he sit next to? Me. But what did you say?
Austin Shapiro: I sat next to the prettiest girl in class.
Lexi Cohen: Oh my God. See, that’s…He sat next to me and I think, at first, it was not the best relationship.
Austin Shapiro: Then we got introduced by one of our mutual friends. Hit it off immediately, then we ended up doing our entire project together, and then the rest is history.
Tubefilter: Very cool. What class was this? What were your majors?
Austin Shapiro: We both majored in film.
Tubefilter: Oh, film. Got it. Then how did things progress from hating each other in class to starting a YouTube channel together?
Lexi Cohen: I think we just started hanging out more.
Austin Shapiro: It went from maybe chatting once or twice a week to hanging out–
Lexi Cohen: Hanging out every day.
Austin Shapiro: –every single day.
Lexi Cohen: He would text me every morning, “Good morning.” He had a crush on me before I had a crush on him.
Austin Shapiro: I was simping for her before simp became a thing.
Lexi Cohen: Yes, that’s true. He was the simp king before simp was even a term.
Tubefilter: I have to say, I do get that feel from your channel.
Lexi Cohen: I think we just developed such a close friendship. We were so comfortable with each other, then one day I think it just turned into, “Do we like each other?”
Austin Shapiro: She made the first move.
Lexi Cohen: I made the first move.
Austin Shapiro: That’s the– I can’t think of the phrase, I’m–
Lexi Cohen: Catalyst.
Austin Shapiro: The catalyst!
Lexi Cohen: The catalyst.
Austin Shapiro: For the entire experience.
Lexi Cohen: We started dating January of 2020, about two, three months before COVID hit. Right around there.
Tubefilter: Oh, the timing.
Austin Shapiro: The YouTube channel and all that didn’t start until the fall of 2020. It was when we got back to school.
Lexi Cohen: No, 2021.
Austin Shapiro: No, 2020 is when it started.
Lexi Cohen: We dated in 2020.
Austin Shapiro: TikTok started in 2020.
Lexi Cohen: YouTube didn’t start until a year after.
Austin Shapiro: Oh, YouTube didn’t start until a year after.
Lexi Cohen: Yes.
Austin Shapiro: Oh. At first, we started with TikTok when we got back to school.
Tubefilter: What made you get TikTok first?
Lexi Cohen: Actually, like everybody, you had your TikTok account and you had maybe 12, 10 of your closest friends on it, and you would make those little videos. That was my account like every other person. I must have had 100 videos on that account, then one day I posted one video of Austin and of course, it’s the only video that goes so viral. Of course. Do you remember what it was like to go viral for the first time?
Austin Shapiro: Yes. It was really weird because before doing this, I was not a big social media person. I didn’t have TikTok. I didn’t really use Instagram. My sole platform was YouTube, and when it blew up, I was just confused. I was like, “Really? People find this funny?”
Lexi Cohen: You didn’t understand it yet.
Tubefilter: What was the video that took off? Do you remember?
Lexi Cohen: We do remember.
Austin Shapiro: I’m trying to think.
Lexi Cohen: It’s a little crude.
Tubefilter: I think you remember, I don’t know if Austin remembers.
Lexi Cohen: In comparison to our other videos, it’s a little bit more crude than the others.
Tubefilter: Okay, you don’t have to say.
Lexi Cohen: Okay. I’m not going to go into detail about what it was.
Tubefilter: Basically it was the first video where Austin was in it and he became the star of your entire channel. That’s the whole point.
Lexi Cohen: [laughs] Yes, exactly. Then funny enough was I ended up posting two more of him back-to-back and came on it. Again, still had my 50 followers and both of those back-to-back, one viral with him in it. It was just three random videos that just went viral and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I guess they might like you.”
Austin Shapiro: Yes. Then as we just continued and continued daily started growing, growing, and we built such a big community on TikTok that eventually we both grew up wanting to do a film. I was a big YouTube guy and we were like, “You know what? Let’s start a YouTube channel. Let’s take this community to the next level.” We built the YouTube channel, I think January of 2021 was our first video that we uploaded around then.
Tubefilter: Why do you view YouTube as the next evolution of being able to connect with your community?
Austin Shapiro: We’re one–
Lexi Cohen: I know immediately what I want to say. Out of any social media platform, I think the community is the strongest. Is that what you’re going to say?
Austin Shapiro: I was going to say along the lines of that.
Lexi Cohen: The people, the community, the dedication that people have, it’s from 0 to 100. I’ve never had a fan base, a community like this in any of our other platforms.
Austin Shapiro: I think even growing up I would consider YouTube as one of, at least for me, because I was born ’99, YouTube was the first social media platform I ever used. I remember watching PewDiePie when he hit literally 100,000 subs. Over time when everything else came out, YouTube was always the original platform where influencers grew.
Tubefilter: Got it. You’re too young for Vine, right?
Lexi Cohen: Oh, no, no.
Lexi Cohen: Oh my gosh, loved Vines. He didn’t have that.
Austin Shapiro: I didn’t have it.
Tubefilter: Oh, okay. You weren’t a social media person.
Austin Shapiro: Yes, I was just solely YouTube.
Tubefilter: Okay. I only say that, because I was born in ’93, I’m slightly older, but not that older.
Lexi Cohen: I was born in ’98.
Tubefilter: Ahh, got it. Anyway, you were both film enthusiasts, so YouTube is always a goal.
Lexi Cohen: Oh, absolutely. I would dream of touching a Play Button.
Austin Shapiro: What do you mean dream? We have a Play Button.
Lexi Cohen: I know, but I used to dream about it. I know you did too. That was a little cocky, wasn’t it? Do you still have videos up on your old channel?
Austin Shapiro: Oh God, no. They were taken down. Me and my brother used to–
Lexi Cohen: Oh my gosh. He used to make so many silly videos with his brother.
Austin Shapiro: Yes. I think the last video when I saw the link was 2008.
Lexi Cohen: Oh my gosh.
Austin Shapiro: That was the last time a video was uploaded.
Tubefilter: I feel like that’s a very common thing. “I was screwing around with my brother. I was making something with my friends.” It’s very common.
Lexi Cohen: Really?
Lexi Cohen: Kids today don’t do that. I’m like, “You’re missing out on a very vital piece of your life right now. You’re going to look back on this in 10 years and be so embarrassed, but it’s going to be so funny.”
Austin Shapiro: I know even YouTube allows us to put our degree to work too.
Lexi Cohen: That’s so true. It’s always what we’ve wanted.
Austin Shapiro: At least for me.
Tubefilter: You got straight from school into this full-time, right? Did you have jobs?
Lexi Cohen: I was getting my master’s, and you were completing your undergrad.
Austin Shapiro: That’s when it started.
Lexi Cohen: That’s when it started.
Austin Shapiro: When we started YouTube, you were finishing up your master’s–
Lexi Cohen: I was finishing my master’s.
Austin Shapiro: –and I was in the middle of my master’s.
Lexi Cohen: It was on the cusp of us transitioning out into being done with school completely. I think it happened at just the right time where we could comfortably transition without having to worry about it. If that makes sense.
Tubefilter: Yes. I’m always really interested in that point because I feel like going full-time in content creation is a really big deal and a really intimidating decision. I’m always really curious about creators’ motivations and the point at which they’re like, “Yes, I’m going to do this thing full-time.”
Lexi Cohen: I think it was when we hit…Oh, I don’t know.
Austin Shapiro: I remember we moved to New York right after I finished undergrad. She had two semesters left in grad school and we just hit a million on TikTok, but at the time we were still like, “We’re still going to look for other jobs and everything.”
Lexi Cohen: We had moved to New York with the intention of looking for film-related jobs.
Austin Shapiro: Then next thing, I don’t know what happened that changed our mind.
Lexi Cohen: I don’t know, I think we were just like, “You know what–“
Austin Shapiro: “Let’s just see what happens–“
Lexi Cohen: “--let’s just see what happens.”
Austin Shapiro: “--and take it from there.”
Lexi Cohen: I think I was just having fun. COVID was like– and everybody’s brains, everyone was all over the place. You were like, “You know what, let’s just live a little bit right now.”
Lexi Cohen: I guess it just worked out.
Austin Shapiro: It did.
Tubefilter: I know you ended up moving from New York to Massachusetts. Why the move?
Austin Shapiro: To be honest, TikTok did not work so well for us in New York, surprisingly.
Lexi Cohen: I think that we had originally moved there to pursue jobs in other industries like that. We wanted to go into the film industry. He wanted to go more music, but bottom line, it was entertainment. Then, once we realized that we didn’t need the big city atmosphere around us, we just wanted to breathe a little bit. Also, I just grew up here, and I’m like, I think I’m biased when it comes to Massachusetts because I convinced him. I was like, “It has everything. We’ve got the Cape. It’s got all four seasons.”
Tubefilter: That’s a big selling point. I’m not going to lie.
Lexi Cohen: Exactly.
Austin Shapiro: That’s what it was.
Lexi Cohen: Fall in the northeast, can’t beat it.
Tubefilter: Absolutely. Tell me a little bit more about, when you transitioned to YouTube, did you start uploading your backlog of TikTok videos or did you start fresh? What was your strategy with YouTube?
Austin Shapiro: We started fresh. Just flat out, we started with going into it not really understanding how we’re going about it. Just uploaded a few videos we’re doing once a week and then eventually, it wasn’t actually until recently that we started uploading to shorts.
Lexi Cohen: I don’t know. I don’t want to speak badly on behalf of other platforms. I think we just realized that we like YouTube the most. Not trying to force you or anything, but I think we really just liked YouTube better, and we wanted to spend more time on it. We wanted to grow our audience, and we started posting twice a week. We started uploading all of our shorts. There’s definitely a couple extra shorts that we do that we post specifically to YouTube for our YouTube community that the other platforms don’t really get to see.
Tubefilter: You mentioned before that there’s a difference in your YouTube and your TikTok audience. Do you notice demographic differences, or is it also that they engage with you differently? Like you said, they’re so passionate. What is it about that YouTube audience that’s so special?
Lexi Cohen: I feel so much more–Sorry, go ahead.
Austin Shapiro: The demographic is exactly the same, but we feel that when you’re on TikTok, the fact that you could just scroll, scroll, scroll, there’s no personal relationship really being built outside of that 60 seconds. When people come to our YouTube channel, they had the opportunity to sit there for eight to 15 minutes out of time, really get to know us, but then the comment section below it, the community that we built are so interactive with not even just us, with each other. We’ve even seen people just like, we’ll upload a video and set up the premier for three hours ahead of when we uploaded them.
Lexi Cohen: People start making friends in the chat.
Austin Shapiro: Every single day there’s 150 people saying they’re making friends, chatting with each other. Then I used to do Twitch too, and I have a little discord for that. Even now, I see people all are still friends, and every single one of them solely watch our YouTube channel.
Lexi Cohen: Everyone’s just so much nicer. I feel like everyone’s just so much more positive.
Tubefilter: I actually hear that a lot. People say that their YouTube communities are very positive compared to not just TikTok, but to any other platform.
Lexi Cohen: Oh my gosh, yes. There is a real, substantial difference.
Tubefilter: Walk me through your production schedule. How long does a video take from conception to upload? How often are you filming throughout the week?
Austin Shapiro: I feel like it depends on the video.
Lexi Cohen: It does depend on the video. There’ll be some–I’m trying to give an example–
Austin Shapiro: We do a lot of pranks on each other, so usually when those happen, it will be, one of us comes up with it. We don’t tell the other person. From conception to finish, that could like–
Lexi Cohen: –anywhere from an hour to–
Austin Shapiro: I would say filming, it could take an hour to two hours depending on what the prank is and everything. To the full editing process. How would you say the editing process takes? For something like a prank, at least? Five to six?
Lexi Cohen: Five to six hours, yes, I’d say.
Tubefilter: You do all your own editing?
Lexi Cohen: Yes. He usually chops it up, and I usually finish it off with all the cool stuff.
Austin Shapiro: A much longer video like when we do challenges or Q&As–
Lexi Cohen: We just do what we like to do. We like to do the long intricate ones.
Austin Shapiro: Those who take literally like we’ve had, I feel like we did one recently that literally took three weeks to plan out and get done.
Lexi Cohen: Even our ordering with the person in front of us, the drive-through.
Austin Shapiro: Yes. When we do the letting the person– exactly what she said.
Lexi Cohen: We’ll have five hours of footage.
Austin Shapiro: Then have to sit there and go through it, chop it all up. We just did one the other day where we had the idea for a while where we did portraits of each other, went horribly wrong. That took six and a half hours to film.
Lexi Cohen: It was just so much footage of us painting so terribly for no reason.
Tubefilter: That’s the fun part.
Lexi Cohen: We weren’t good at it.
Tubefilter: You’re just supposed to be bad with these painting event things. That’s the deal! What is your focus level on short-form compared to long-form? Are you shooting for both? What’s your goal?
Lexi Cohen: I think that we try to maintain a healthy balance between the two, but I think that we would prefer long-form overall, just because that’s where our hearts are.
Tubefilter: Why is long-form so appealing to both of you?
Austin Shapiro For us, we came from film background. The way we grew up was only on long-form content. That’s what we always knew. Short-form content didn’t really come into our lives until we were at end of college because Vine was so quick. Because we got the degrees in film, got the masters and everything, we just always had a drive to make longer and longer films. When we’re now content creators, and we could do it daily, we prefer to make those longer, more interactive, a lot more time to take, a lot more in-depth videos.
Lexi Cohen: I also feel short-form content is so in right now, and it’s so easy to judge people based off that short-form content. When you have your long-form content, that’s actually an opportunity for people to see a little bit more about who you actually are because it is very easy to look at our short-form content and make assumptions, but then you come over to our long-form content and it’s completely different. I think that we just like being seen for who we are.
Tubefilter: Austin, you said you’re doing Twitch too, right?
Austin Shapiro: I used to.
Tubefilter: Oh, you used to!
Austin Shapiro: I did. I built a Discord meeting, and a lot of those people now just watch our YouTube channel, and that’s how I communicate with them.
Tubefilter: You still run Discord then?
Austin Shapiro: Yes. Once in a blue moon, I jump on board, but I have 10 people who run it for me.
Tubefilter: What is your total platform presence? It’s YouTube, TikTok, is that it? Is that where you guys are focused?
Lexi Cohen: Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, but Instagram’s more of just where we post all of our other content.
Austin Shapiro: Like a medium to get them into our daily vlog.
Tubefilter: What does your team look like these days? You guys do all your own editing. Do you have anybody else who’s working with you behind the scenes?
Lexi Cohen: Besides Gianni?
Austin Shapiro: Honestly, no.
Lexi Cohen: An amazing management company, but besides them…
Austin Shapiro: Usually once in the blue room we’ll have our friends help us. Because we majored in film, a lot of our friends went into film jobs or graphic editing jobs. Sometimes we’ll call them for creative things. If we need something made up a graphic or something like that, we’ll call them for that.
Lexi Cohen: I think we’re, creatively, I think it’s mostly us, but I think on the other side of it is more of our management team, We Are Verified, which, they do an absolutely incredible job. We could not be fortunate to be involved with them.
Tubefilter: I think people still underestimate how good a good management team is.
Lexi Cohen: I know. They’re so close-knit. It’s because they just started. They’re very new.
Austin Shapiro: They’ve been on for four or five years.
Lexi Cohen: People underestimate small businesses.
Austin Shapiro: They’ve helped us out a lot.
Lexi Cohen: Those are where the good people are.
Tubefilter: I did want to ask what it’s like, being on that high-level creative collaborator-ship where you’re front-facing all these people all the time, it can be difficult. What is it like for you guys to balance running the channel together?
Austin Shapiro: Here and there we have troubles like creative differences in ideas and things that. At the end of the day, we came into this knowing what we wanted and knowing how to get it. I guess we’re so good at communication with each other that, there are very minimal problems that really do occur.
Lexi Cohen: Yes. I think we’re just really smart on knowing when we need to take a step back. Actually know that there’s a difference between our relationship on social media and our relationship in real life. Sometimes–
Austin Shapiro: If we go out for our anniversary or something, we like where is that boundary between like we have to post about every little thing or maybe you want to just enjoy the night. Just us.
Lexi Cohen: I think we had to train ourselves to learn what was that healthy balance but I think that we’ve got a very good grip on it. Even if we do actually ever have problems, which doesn’t happen very often, but of course, it does happen. Every relationship’s going to have that issue but we just look at each other. We’re like okay, we’re having this issue. Let’s breathe, let’s take a step back. Let’s remind ourselves who we are, and where we are.
Austin Shapiro: We remind each other that we’re together because we love each other not because of content.
Lexi Cohen: Not because of the content. Exactly.
Tubefilter: That’s huge. Do you guys have any plans or goals for this year?
Austin Shapiro: To be honest, the only goal come into this year was hitting 100,000 on YouTube. I don’t even know how–
Tubefilter: Wait, just 100,000?
Lexi Cohen: That was our goal.
Austin Shapiro: Yes. We came into this year having every single goal hit before January 1. We’re just riding it out right now.
Lexi Cohen: I think we’re just very happy with where we are. We’re very happy with our audience, we’re happy with what we’re doing, the opportunities that are being presented to us like everybody that we’re meeting. I think that we’re just having fun and seeing where it takes us.
Tubefilter: Is there anything else that you feel like readers should know about you or, I don’t know, anything else that you want to share, that you want to talk about? Complain about?
Lexi Cohen: Austin Shapiro is the one and only simp king. There will never be another person that has that title ever. [laughs]
Tubefilter: That might be the headline of the story.
Lexi Cohen: That’s the only thing that I need to make specifically clear for you.
Tubefilter: Got it. As long as we got the simp king thing down, we’re good.
Austin Shapiro: No one’s going to dethrone me.
Tubefilter: Okay. I will be sure to dissuade royal challengers.