Jack Vale and I ran into three types of people during our interview at the Huntington Beach Pier: fans of Jack Vale, people who had been pranked by Jack Vale and total lunatics. And as it turns out, there is a lot of overlap between these types down in “Surf City, USA.”
Vale, the legendary YouTube prankster, is getting to be full-on famous. That’s a bad thing when your job relies on a certain amount of anonymity. Fortunately for Vale, pranking is just a means to an end. You see, at heart, the funnyman is really an entrepreneur with a hilarious invention to sell: “The Pooter.” A staple of his schtick, Jack was just a business guy trying to sell a fart machine when he happened upon the brilliant marketing innovation of making funny YouTube videos. And the rest, as they say, is history. Except he’s still very busy making history in the present. With half a million subscribers and 520 videos to his name, the entertainment business might just be his true calling.
Vale showed up to our interview with one of his five(!) kids and a cameraman — just because the opportunity for “funny” is always present. Turns out it was a sharp move — the local crazies fully inserted themselves into our interview. Whereas other interview subjects might have suggested a change of venue, Vale delighted in engaging with the “local color” and even dueted when one of them launched into her own terrible, terrible rendition of “Rolling on a River” (I couldn’t tell if it was the Creedence version or the Tina Turner one).
He ended up giving her some cash — which is certainly only going to influence her to pest future interviewers, but maybe that’s as telling of Jack and his methods as anything: he just wants to spread a little joy.
Oh, and add me to that grand list of people who have been pranked by Jack Vale. The son of a bitch is funny, I’ll give him that.
For the full interview in video format, go to the last page.
How did you get started making YouTube videos in the first place?
Jack Vale: So when I originally started, actually I started filming a homeless guy, and it is kind of a weird story. It doesn’t have anything to do with pranking, but I literally started filming this homeless guy ‘cause I thought he was entertaining. And his name was Duane; I started like monitoring his every day, everything that he did day to day, and it was really, really funny. He was a funny guy, and so if you go all the way back to my original videos, like my first handful of videos, they’re “Meet Duane” videos — that is what I call them, and they are literally him singing the Beatles in the park, him talking about everyday stuff, he collected all this stuff, put it in storage units, just a really crazy story that this guy had. So through that and establishing like 500 followers out of that, I started uploading prank videos after that.
Now have you ever gone back to Duane and said, “Hey buddy, you helped me get my start. Here is a little something”?
Sort of, well yeah. Well the arrangement that we had was like, I would go out and film him and wherever we were on location I’d bring him stuff. I’d bring him money, bring him food, take him out to dinner, stuff like that. He actually turned out to be a really good friend, but after maybe uploading 10 of those videos, I developed a fart maker that I’m sort of known for as the fart guy now, but it’s called a “Pooter.” In the beginning, that is what I started uploading — only Pooter videos, and I did it to market my product. My toy.
So the YouTube video then came out of the Pooter?
Which is a fun way of putting it, alright.
It’s true. You’d be surprised what you find in my Pooter.