On June 5, 2007 asthmatic waiter Craig Benzine started a YouTube channel to vent his frustrations with his day job. He, like many of the big names on YouTube today, spent his first years on the site making hundreds of videos for a subscriber base of less than 40 viewers. But with practice, even spending an entire year making a video almost every day, his channel began to grow in popularity, and as of June 2013 Benzine's Wheezy Waiter channel has garnered nearly half a million subscribers and more than 72.5 million total video views. So what's all the fuss about?
Wheezy Waiter is a sometimes daily one-man show covering everything from how to survive falling from an airplane to a treatise on the benefits of pointlessness. Episodes are brimming with a inside jokes, making recurring segments out of bagels, punching an eagle, coffee, and even breathing. The show mixes the reality of Craig's actually living quarters with fictional additions like a removeable roof (helpful when punching eagles), a whale tank, a time machine, an alligator pit, a sky bank and most importantly a cloning machine, which Craig uses to make copies of himself.
Wheezy Waiter episodes come in many formats: Explosion Wednesdays cover all things explosion related in the news; Interactive Adventures are choose-your-own adventure type videos; etc. But by far the most entertaining are the series of "Gary and Me" videos. Gary and Me, two of Craig's clones, host the show when the original Craig is unavailable. The episodes debunk myths about beards, cloning, the Internet, sleep and dinosaurs, while usually degrading into arguments over the myth and outbursts of song. 5 Myths about Dinosaurs, a Gary and Me video released at the beginning of July, is frankly a masterpiece of both performance and editing.
Connoisseurs of online video will notice the long, expertly timed shots, seamless split screen, and captivating individual performances of each clone. This is what makes Wheezy Waiter great. His performance and editing style have co-evolved to create work specific to the medium.
Besides his main channel, Benzine also makes an informal daily vlog on Wheezy News, hosts an infrequent gaming channel, and has been the frontman for the rock band Driftless Pony Club for going on ten years. His newest project, titled The Good Stuff, releases a playlist of themed videos every week covering topics like the reality of the rock star lifestyle and the nature of origin stories. Busy man. Benzine is the ultimate self-taught creator in a field deep with creative content. His work is a must-watch for anyone interested in online video, performance or new media today.
Check out the Wheezy Waiter channel on YouTube to watch more episodes of Wheezy Waiter.