Tomato Cages & Secret Codes: Talking Sleepwalking With the Internet’s Newest Starmaker [INTERVIEW]

Nicola Foti is on the verge. Of what, remains to be seen. But if you’re one of the millions of people who has tuned in to watch his mother dance in her sleep — or watch the video of her reacting to it, you know that it’s something funny. His detractors (and on the Internet there are always detractors) say it’s cruel to post such revealing videos without his mother’s knowing or consent, but visit his YouTube channels and you will see that the hundreds of videos posted there constitute a warm relationship. 

I got the chance to interview the surprisingly diverse (and busy) New Jersey-ite over what seems to be his favorite medium: the Internet.

I’m guessing this has been the biggest response you’ve ever had to a video — what has that been like?

I had a viral video called Sh*t Girls Say to Gay Guys back in January, and that has almost 7 million views right now, but this is the first time I’ve had TV shows, newspapers and radio stations from here in the US to Australia, Belgium, Norway, Serbia and more.

How’s your mom been handling it all so far?

My mom thought the video was hilarious — she couldn’t believe it. Her friends are calling her telling her they saw her on TV and all that — she’s excited.

Did anything she say in the video have a bearing in real life? She mentions secret codes — does she work for the CIA, or does she have any actual access to “tomato cages?”

The funniest part about that is, she has tomatoes growing in her garden but they don’t have cages. I suppose that’s why it was so hard for her to open them.

The reaction video has almost double the views of the original. Any plans to do a reaction video to the reaction video?

I thought about showing my grandmother the original video and recording her reaction, but I think the original two are doing pretty well without it. I did make mention of it on my main YouTube channel, soundlyawake, where I play characters and do comedy sketches. 

I’m guessing this isn’t the first time your mom has sleepwalked. True?

Absolutely not. Occasionally, I’ll go and make myself some tea at 2am or get something to eat, and she’s in the kitchen, in the darkness, staring into space and eating a pretzel. I’m glad that this time was the time I decided to whip out my phone to record it.

Was she under the effects of Ambien or any other pharmaceutical that causes sleepwalking?

She was, but she’d rather not say which specific prescriptions she takes.

A lot of your reviewers call fake because she has her eyes open: for the record, is this video real?


Your YouTube channel is called “stillsoundlyawake.” Happy accident or is sleep a major focus in your family?

You know, I didn’t even realize how funny that is until someone pointed it out to me. I’ve had the username “soundlyawake” for years, YouTube specifically since February 2006, but on all my social media from Twitter to Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. My reasoning was that if you’re “soundly sleeping” you’re not awake to experience the soundness, so I’d rather be soundly awake. I created “stillsoundlyawake” as my second channel in August of 2009.

I think I see an upper back tattoo in the video — is your mom a pretty hip lady?

Yeah, she has 8 tattoos. She also tried to convince me to get a tattoo when I was 16 and I refused because needles.

You’ve featured your mom in videos before — most notably your cinnamon challenge. Are there any plans for future collaborations between you two?

Definitely. My subscribers love my mom on all four of my channels. She’s been in a couple soundlyawake videos, tons on stillsoundlyawake, a few on NicolaFoti and even some on RuleOfYum, my new cooking channel.

Nicola Foti and his mom doing the cinnamon challenge.

Has anyone ever told you that you look like Eminem?

Hahaha yes. But most often I get either Rob Schneider or The Rock. I don’t see it. I think I look more like Tyra.

You have an adorable “boyfriend video” with your boyfriend Ken. I feel like I know everything about you two now — how are things going on that front?

Thanks! Good! In December we’ll have been together for 3 years.

I see the tag “comedian” associated with you a lot. Are you actively pursuing that on stage or is it strictly in the social media arena?

I love having full control over what I do, and I have that with YouTube. That said, it would be awesome to have a spot on a sitcom or do some voice-acting.

Has anyone from one of the many online production companies contacted you about doing your channel professionally?

[I’m not sure what this question means!]

You’ve got the “eyes” of the Internet on you now — any plans to capitalize on that? Will we be seeing sleepwalking mom t-shirts or coffee mugs?

Haha no plans as of yet. Just happy people are finding my content entertaining!

Any last words to leave us with?

“Last words.” Teehee. Get it? Cuz you said — never mind.

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