Michael Buckley’s energy is around about 200%, or at least that is how it seems watching him co-host with Kelly Ripa on this week’s “Live! With Kelly.” Buckley was one of the thousands of co-host hopefuls who submitted 60-second auditions to “Live’s Coast-to-Coast Co-Host Search.” Luckily, Buckley’s personable and energetic style stood out, landing him the opportunity to guest host with Ripa.
Watching footage of the episode, it is evident that Buckley has been preparing for this moment his entire life. In fact, during the broadcast, Buckley explains to Ripa and the audience that “I feel like I’ve been training my whole life for this.” And in a way, Buckley has. As one of the first real YouTube stars, Buckley has quickly become a beloved digital entertainer with his unique blend of sincerity and pure joyfulness.
I caught up with the famous YouTuber the day after his appearance on “Live! With Kelly” to talk about being one of the first YouTube stars on network TV and if America is ready for a gay “Live!” cohost. In case you missed the show yesterday, below is a video of Buckley and Ripa eating all kinds of crazy food with Andrew Zimmern.
Why do you think your submission to “Live’s Coast-to-Coast Co-Host Search” stood out from all the other contestants’ submissions?
Michael Buckley: That’s a good question. It was a 60-second video, and I knew that I didn’t want to do anything too fancy because I figured I was auditioning to be on a live TV show. So, I just wanted to be myself for a minute with no edit and just kind of plead my case like “This is me, this is why I would be a good host,” and I was very confident. I said, “I foresee this working out, and I feel like this will be my first clip and 10 years from now when I’ve been on the show for 10 years, they’d be like, “Remember when Michael Buckley auditioned? Let’s roll that clip.” I wanted it to be funny and lighthearted, but at the same time dead serious that I was in it to win it.
Do you think your experience on “What The Buck” and on YouTube helped you prepare for co-hosting?
Buckley: I have no question that my YouTube experience and live broadcasting experience gave me an edge in the competition and every single challenge. Like, at the end of every challenge or if it was a 60-second challenge or a rapid fire ten question Q&A, I thought, “I do this all the time.” I do YouTube tag videos on my livestreaming show. I do ten questions. So I was fully prepared to talk about myself for 60 seconds. I was fully prepared to answer 10 questions about anything rapidly. So definitely being a YouTube personality and being on camera for the last 6 years definitely gave me an edge.
Going into hosting, did you try to emulate former host Regis Philbin or did you just try to be yourself?
Buckley: Absolutely, I just thought about being myself. I didn’t think about being Regis at all. because obviously he is a much older, much different man, so it would have been silly to go in there and try to fill the roll he filled or watching Seth Meyers or Josh Groban or anybody else. They were doing a great job, but the thing about being a talk show host is you have to be the best you. That is what I went in as — I am going to be the best Michael Buckley I can be. I could tell watching Kelly everyday that we were going to hit it off instantly from the first challenge. I looked up at her, and she was hunched over laughing, and we had instant chemistry and instant rapport, and I knew it was going to be a great match. So it is funny that we ended up on live TV for that whole hour having not really talked much, but we just knew.
Were you nervous once you knew that you would be hosting with Kelly?
Buckley: it’s funny, because I really wasn’t nervous. I was more nervous and anxious the night before. I was more anxious just looking forward to it, but I didn’t have a single nerve. I just felt like I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I felt — I don’t know if I said this on the air, but I felt like it was The Olympics for me, and I felt like I have been training my whole life for this. I was just ready to do it.
This is a huge appearance for a YouTube star. Do you think that this is a step into YouTube talent beginning to be seen more and more on television and in movies?
Buckley: I think so. All the TV and movie stars want to be on YouTube, so there is no reason why YouTube stars shouldn’t want to be in TV and movies. Fred has a TV show, Annoying Orange has a TV show; these were all things that were in the back of my mind as I started thinking about wanting to be on TV, because from 2008 to 2011, I was stuck in my own head like, “I am a YouTube star. I am making a lot of money. I don’t have to leave my house. This is all I want in my life.” But then earlier this year, I remembered that my whole life I wanted to be on TV, and I wanted to be a TV host, so I put that out to the universe, and now things are really starting to happen. In terms of other YouTubers, a lot of YouTubers don’t want to be on TV because they have their own channel, and they fill their own sponsorships, and they have comparable if not larger audiences than cable TV. So, it is crazy how much has changed in the last year and in the last 2 years. But I think you will start seeing more YouTube stars on TV just like you are seeing more movie and TV stars on YouTube because it has all become media. There is no new media anymore; it’s just media.
Do you think America is ready to see an openly gay co-host on “Live”?
Buckley: I absolutely do, and in a way I think they would appreciate it, because sometimes I see her with some really good looking straight guy, and in some ways it kind of rubs me the wrong way. Well, it doesn’t rub me the wrong way, but I think me being with her it would kind of be like being best friends, and we could be America’s best friends. People like Neil Patrick Harris and Andy Cohen and Jim Parsons — there are so many people now who are openly gay, and it just doesn’t matter now in 2012. If I look at the comments from people, there were tens of thousands of ones that are like, “You did awesome, you were awesome, you guys were awesome together,” and then there was like 10 to 20 that were like, “Who’s this gay guy?” So honestly, I would say 90% of the comments were wonderful, and 10% were just those people who are just jerks, and I am not at all worried about them [laughs].
Now that you are a network television star, will you still be putting effort into “What The Buck?”
Buckley: I will still be putting equal amounts of effort into “What The Buck” because that is my primary source of income, and it is still a great joy in my life. But I am more open now to more opportunities to be on TV, and if things come up I am just going to keep saying, “Yes,” to things and just try to make the best out of the platform that YouTube has given me.