Pam Powers
University Communications

Graduate’s social media comedy sketches viewed a billion times

Gus Johnson, entertainment design major, plans to move to LA to continue acting career

News link:

Menomonie, Wis. (May 14, 2018) – University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate Gus Johnson looks at life and sees the humor in it.

Johnson, who graduated Saturday, May 5, in entertainment design, with a concentration in digital cinema, has had his short comedy sketches viewed on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit more than one billion times.

The most popular one is “Every Cat at 3 a.m.,” a comedic look at the exploits of a feline in the middle of the night. It has been viewed more than 3.2 million times on YouTube.

In the video, Johnson, in cat ears and with whiskers, wakes up to an early morning alarm to run about the house knocking things down and making noise. “I think it’s so relatable,” Johnson said. “It’s a quick piece with high energy.”

The past two years, Johnson said his full-time job has been creating videos for social media, which in turn have helped him make enough money to pay his bills and finish his degree. Revenue is generated through advertising and sponsorships, and Johnson sells merchandise based on the characters he creates and receives funds from Patreon, where people donate to help artists.

Many of his ideas for the comedy sketches come from everyday things that frustrate him, Johnson said. “The perfect formula is to make light of something that is relatable and frustrates other people too,” he said.

As a fan of the “Far Side” comic, Johnson describes his humor as a video version of the famous Gary Larson single pane comic. Other inspirations are Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett, both “Saturday Night Live” cast members, who created the comedy sketch channel “Good Neighbor Stuff.”

Johnson, of Grantsburg, said he started creating short videos riding his bicycle around his hometown when in seventh grade. He knew early on he wanted to perform and enjoys making people laugh.

At UW-Stout he has appeared in six of the University Theatre productions. His favorite character was the evil dentist in “Little Shop of Horrors.” He enjoyed playing the goofy villain in the musical.

After graduation, Johnson will move to Los Angeles in July to continue creating YouTube videos and to pursue an acting career, having already signed with a professional agency. In the past year he has traveled to LA about 20 times for work or to audition for parts.

On YouTube Johnson has about 400,000 followers. Getting exposure on social media is imperative now to break into show business, Johnson said. Talent scouts use social media platforms to look for new performers.

He records most of his videos on a Canon 70D DSLR and uses a Rode vid mic pro. He opts to shoot some videos on his cell phone. “Certain jokes come across better if they seem spontaneous and natural,” he said, noting he has more than 400 videos on social media.

One of his favorite characters is Mitchell Robbins, a man terrified of his household appliances. “It’s so fun to play him,” Johnson said. “I shoot them with my brother behind the camera. We don’t plan it out. We make it up on the spot. I love being a part of something like that.”

Johnson also has parodied professors and poked fun at social media users and middle age cell phone owners.

Johnson would like to spend his career creating materials that he enjoys and making people laugh. “People love stuff they can relate to and look at differently,” he noted.

Johnson’s YouTube channel is here:


To download full image, right-click and choose “save image as”

Gus Johnson

UW-Stout graduate Gus Johnson’s social media comedy sketches have been viewed a billion times. Johnson, who graduated May 5, plans to continue an acting career.

Gus Johnson gets his ideas for comedy sketches from everyday things that frustrate him.