French fries, drooling, viral challenges: Kitchener home to ‘YouTube’s most gifted entertainer’
YouTube sensation Ricky Berwick’s brand of comedy is outlandish with a side of slapstick.
Consider: one of his most-watched videos, with more than 8.3 million views, is a 21-second video in which Berwick, in a Superman shirt, complains about Spiderman.
Then, someone in a Spiderman costume that looks nothing like the superhero comes in and sprays him with silly string.
The first thing you may notice about the Kitchener native is his physical appearance: he has Beals-Hecht syndrome. Among the symptoms, he’s unable to fully extend his joints.
“My body is a little deformed and I have a hump on my back,” he explains.
That doesn’t stop him from taking part in viral challenges like the bottle cap challenge though.
Warning: the embedded video below contains some strong language.
When asked how Beals-Hecht syndrome affects him in his day-to-day, Berwick deflects.
“I just don’t think it’s that important, I like to think of myself as normal,” he explains.
And he’s successful: the 27-year-old has built an online empire, boasting more than 1.6 million subscribers and 368 million video views on YouTube.
Across all platforms, it’s estimated that his videos have been seen three quarters of a billion times in just three years. The catalyst: him eating French fries.
“It got shared on Facebook,” Berwick says. “A friend showed me, it had like, 500K after 40 minutes and then the next day, almost two million.”
A short time later, he was whisked to L.A. to be on a Comedy Central show: Daniel Tosh, who hosts the viral video commentary show Tosh.0, called him “YouTube’s most gifted entertainer.” His family went along with him, including his mother Roseanna, who likes to give him advice.
“It’s just a mother’s instinct but I’m proud of him. He’s really stayed true to who he is,” she says. Ricky says that, to be successful, you have to put on a “wild act.”
But that wild act may offend. Mobility advocates like Edward Faruzel say Berwick’s shock value toes the line of offensive.
“It’s just sad you have to degrade yourself in order to try and get ahead in life,” he says.
But Berwick says he’s no advocate—he just likes to make people laugh.
“I don’t think sticking out your tongue, drooling and eating cookies is helping the world, but it is making the world happy and laughing a lot,” he explains.
When asked how much money he makes through his videos, Berwick gracefully deflected the question.
He says he makes videos for views and to make friends—treating it as a business, he says, would ruin it.