LOGAN – Stuart Edgington had just finished a 2 a.m. burrito at the Logan Rancherito’s and was walking toward the exit when he was stopped by a stranger.
“Hey,” the man said. “I like your YouTube channel.”
Edgington thanked him, spoke with him for a few minutes, posed for some pictures with a couple of Utah State students from the next table over and then made his way outside to meet back up with the group he came with.
That isn’t a unique occurrence for Edgington anymore. He said people recognize him pretty much anywhere he goes. About two years ago, the 2007 Mountain Crest High graduate was cleaning porta-potties, now he has achieved Internet fame and is making viral Internet videos full-time.
Stuart Edge – the name he uses in his videos – is known for the pranks he does on unsuspecting people and often incorporates magic tricks into them.
His <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/user/stuartedge” target=”_blank”>YouTube channel</a> has more than 2,000,000 subscribers and his videos have more than 222,000,000 total views. Last year he appeared as a <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VN65VBwPDc8″ target=”_blank”>guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon</a>. Later this year, he will travel to California for the Streamy Awards, an annual event that honors the best online videos.
Edgington now knows he wants to entertain people. That is who he wants to be. He didn’t always realize it though. While growing up in Logan, and attending Mountain Crest High, he stayed active in a lot of things. He participated in football, wrestling and musicals – things he said helped develop his creativity. He said he was inspired by the people he knew in Cache Valley, as well as by attending Aggie basketball games and listening to the broadcasts by Al Lewis.
“I would always listen to him on the radio,” he said. “Like sports games and Utah State games, and I would just be like, ‘Man, it would be so cool to let people know who you are like that.’ Anytime I’d go to sports games I would be like ‘Man that would be so cool to be able to entertain people like that.’”
After high school, Edgington left on an LDS mission to Mexico. When he returned he enrolled at Utah Valley University in Orem where he also worked at an elementary school. During his off-time in the summer he got a job cleaning porta-potties. What he thought would be just a summer job ended up lasting a year. It was one day while cleaning porta-potties that he decided he wanted a change. He knew he wanted to do something, but the porta-potty business wasn’t it. That was when he had the idea to start making videos.
“I went home that day and spent all my savings to buy a camera,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of money and I just spent it to buy a camera and I just started videoing everything.”
Edgington started looking for jobs where he could make videos. A little while later he was hired to make YouTube videos for a company called Orabrush.
“That’s kind of when I started getting into the YouTube scene,” he said. “Then it kind of just happened. It was just natural. I just felt like I should start making my own videos. I came up with an idea to do the mistletoe kissing prank and it blew up.”
Edgington’s <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iNxHxwT-b4&list=TL5jBOd04kqLUmW-pRDIx0dIkmlPHVGdy9″ target=”_blank”>mistletoe kissing prank</a> involved two of his friends – a boy and a girl – conducting a survey on BYU’s campus. The two would interview people about which Christmas traditions they participate in. After asking people whether they would participate in kissing under mistletoe, mistletoe would fall from the ceiling and hang in-between the interviewer and the interviewee, sometimes resulting in a kiss, sometimes embarrassment and in one case, a slap to the face.
“We just kind of made the video with no expectations of it going viral or anything,” he said. “We just made it because we wanted to have fun.”
Edgington said he made the video and edited it in one day. He uploaded it around midnight on Dec. 12, 2012. When he woke up the next morning he was happy to see his video had 66 views.
“I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s crazy. That’s more views than I have ever gotten.”
Within the next hour he watched the video hit more than 1,000 views. By the end of the day that number would be more than 1,000,000 – something that made him “scared and nervous.”
Edgington called his mother to explain what had happened.
“She was like, ‘That’s so cool!’” he said. “I was like, ‘No that’s not. That means people are watching me now. People are waiting to see what I come up with next. I don’t know if I can handle that pressure.’”
It’s probably safe to say Edgington is more comfortable with it now. He said he works 40 – 60 hours a week making videos. YouTube pays him for every view and advertisers pay him to feature their products.
He has also used his videos to give back and do good. One video shows him doing <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOOueUDwGdg&list=UUCvCHN9DaKn8ON5VxDZmyhQ” target=”_blank”>magic tricks for <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>kids</span></a> with cancer in a hospital. Another video, filmed on Utah State’s campus, features a trick called “<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjCGznH-N6c&list=UUCvCHN9DaKn8ON5VxDZmyhQ&index=27″ target=”_blank”>reverse pickpocketing</a>” where Edgington and others secretly give money to unsuspecting college students.
“Pranks are fun, but I really like giving back to people,” he said. “One hundred dollars maybe just helps you buy groceries for that month or two-weeks or pays like one-third of your rent. I know it’s not a huge amount of money, but the whole point of those give-back videos is to inspire people that are watching to always just look out, you know. To always just give back.”
Edgington credited his experiences growing up Cache Valley with helping make him the creative person he is today. He wants to continue to be that creative person and to entertain. He said that is what he feels he does best. For the future, he wants to branch out and go further than the social media celebrity status and try and make it in the “real world entertainment industry.”
“I do want to keep entertaining people and that took me a while to figure out,” he said. “Do I stick with the YouTube scene? Is that what my life calling is – to keep uploading videos to YouTube? As I’ve been thinking about it a lot, it’s like, ‘No, I just want to be an entertainer. I just want to entertain people.’ Whichever way I can do that, that will be best.”