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Former DePaul student goes viral, starts career as a comedian

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There are certain moments in an aspiring comedian’s career where they realize that the mic, stage, and crowd are all the tools needed to make their job worthwhile.  It’s almost like an instrument or a dance, the way the simplest stories can produce a burst of booming laughter.  And it’s in those laughs and chuckles, the clapping and the cheering, that the word “aspiring” gets dropped from their job title and they become simply a comedian.

The first time Jaboukie Young-White realized that he was at least slightly humorous was during his senior year in high school when his 8-minute comedy piece won the IHSA state champion in Original Comedy.  As the crowd jumped to their feet in a roaring applause, the high school senior was not only reasserted in his comedic skill but reminded of aspiration he’s had since he was little.

“I always wanted to do stand-up when I was little.  I did speech in high school and my senior year I won both the comedic events so even when I’d bomb on stage, I’d be like I’m funny,” Young-White said.

Now 22 years-old, Young-White, a former DePaul student, needs less and less reassertion that he’s funny with every laugh that bounces back on stage from the audience.  And while he currently spends his time pursuing a comedy career and hopping from stage to stage in New York City, Young-White has found a new audience to make laugh, one that reaches far beyond the Big Apple.

With over 10,000 followers on Twitter and 25,000 on Instagram, Young-White has certainly made a dent in the comedic world of social media.  From memes to Tweets to clever Instagram captions, Young-White has showcased his unique style of comedy to the world and there’s a good chance you’ve already seen it.

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Former DePaul student turned viral sensation Young-White now works in New York as a comedian. Young-White has over 25,000 followers on Instagram. (Photo courtesy JABOUKIE YOUNG-WHITE.)

Comedic and meme based Twitter accounts such as Savage Plug (35,000 followers) World Star Hip Hop (966,000 followers) and the most absurd of them all Common White Girl (6.81 million followers) have routinely taken credit and shared memes that Young-White originally created.

“People steal my memes constantly, to the point that I don’t even care anymore,” Young-White said.  “I’ll still call them out on Twitter, but you can’t do much when Instagram accounts steal your jokes and memes. But honestly I’m posting new memes all the time so it gets to a point that it’s not even worth it to be mad.”

But while he may not receive credit 100 percent of the time, Young-White’s social media presence has surely gained itself a reputation and following not only at DePaul but all around the world.

Young-White has found his tweets being favorited by J.K. Rowling and his Instagram becoming so popular that Buzzfeed even wrote an entire article on it last November, neither of which he ever expected.

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(Photo courtesy JABOUKIE YOUNG-WHITE.)

“My younger brother had been internet famous for some time, he used to be Vine famous when that was big.  So he had been poppin’, and one day he went to my Instagram and thought ‘I don’t know maybe I’ll screenshot these and post them on Twitter, I think they’re kind of funny.’  And then it ended up going viral,” Young-White said.  “Someone on Buzzfeed hit me up then and at the same time I was traveling to North Carolina when my MegaBus messed up my travel thing so I was laid over in D.C. for a night and I called customer service and just sturdily went off on them, and then I got a free plane ride.  So I made an Instagram post about that and that just blew up too.”

“It was like three different things going viral all at the same time, it was really weird but it was dope.”

Ever since Young-White has found himself going viral and working in the meme business, he does admit he’s had trouble conveying to his parents just what it means to be known for making memes.

“They don’t know what memes are, no.  My mom like kind of gets it but my dad is just so confused by the concept of memes so it’s really funny,” said Young-White.  “They know the memes are on the internet and social media and whatever so they’re getting there.”

The viral success of the former DePaul student has been far from short lived, as with each Instagram post and every tweet, hundreds and thousands have continued to share and like his posts.  And with the realization of his social media presence and massive following, Young-White has begun to incorporate his stand-up comedic career into his online one.

“It’s strange because I’ve been doing stand-up for a long time before this going viral and everything,” said Young-White.  “But now I’m thinking, I can finesse this and get something out of it if this is how people know me.  It’s surreal and it’s strange but it works.”

While he does say his fears were limited, when Young-White chose to leave DePaul during his senior year in order to pursue comedy in New York City, he had no indication or thought that his life would fast-forward so rapidly.

“So I was going out to New York for a stand up festival, Devil’s Cup at the Broadway Comedy Club.  I went out there thinking, I’m just going to go do it and have fun or whatever.  I’m 21, these people are older than me, we’ll just see how it goes,” said Young-White.  “But I ended up making it to the final round and it was like, okay, ‘I guess I could do this.  I can do this.’

“So I ended up just staying in New York after that.”

And ever since moving to New York since last July, Young-White hasn’t looked back since.

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Young-White’s Instagram and Twitter have gained thousands of followers in the past months due to his memes and comedic posts. (Photo courtesy JABOUKIE YOUNG-WHITE.)

“I started my first open mic when I was 19, and I didn’t get booked for my first show until last November, so when I was 21,” Young-White said.  “I don’t know where I think I’ll be in five years, if I give you an answer, it’ll change by tomorrow.  Even in the last month, my whole career trajectory has changed drastically.”

“Right now, I’m doing things in my life that I thought I would be doing way later in my 20s just because I ended up going viral, it swung open so many doors for me.”

And as Young-White continues to conquer the comic stages of New York City and Chicago, he does so on Twitter and Instagram as well.  While what exactly is next for him remains uncertain, it’s safe to say making people laugh will remain in Young-White’s future.

“It’s hard to say where I’ll be because the comedic environment is always changing,” Young-White said.  “Growing up I always looked up to Donald Glover, Aziz Ansari, dudes like that.  Of course like most comedians, I want to be writing, producing, making my own show but I also love stand up.  Really, I just like comedy so whatever capacity it’s happening in, that’s what I want to do.

“People look down at those who make online content, but I can reach way more people with a joke through Twitter than I could in a bar basement.  And I’m not saying a bar basement isn’t fun, they’re the best, but I just like making people laugh.  And it works.”

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Former DePaul student goes viral, starts career as a comedian