YouTube comedian David So has gathered more than 900,000 subscribers since starting his channel in 2011. His videos have put him under the spotlight, but there was a time the 27-year-old’s life just wasn’t so bright.
While attending the University of California Riverside, So was miserable.
“At that moment in my life, I didn’t find value in myself as a human being…. If I died tomorrow, I didn’t care.”
So was in college only because of parental pressure, and he lacked purpose and direction in life. He was an “angry little loser,” waking up depressed every day.
Everything changed for the former musician the day he made the decision to withdraw as a singer from a scheduled performance. He decided to instead go on stage, to the surprise of everyone (including himself), as a stand-up comedian.
“I just left my guitar,” So said. “And that’s the first time I decided from then on I’m just going to do stand up.”
Despite having made a decision he knew he was proud of, life was only slightly easier for the Korean American. He remembers intense fights with his father over his pursuit of comedy, which eventually led to being kicked out.
The struggling entertainer left his parents’ house that day with only his Chuck Taylors on his feet and guitar slung over his back. So and his father would go on to not speak to each other for an entire year.
After some time apart, the two reconnected and now maintain a close relationship. The time was not spent without strife.
“Being detached from my Dad, even though we did fight a lot, was super hard because you don’t ever want to do something that will disappoint your parents,” So said.
Only after So was able to generate money from making video blogs on YouTube did his dad view So’s work as a business, “but now he’s all up in my business now,” So jokes.
So’s parents have trouble understanding his videos because of the language barrier, but they still make an effort to watch every one of them. The desire for his parents to understand his humor was what inspired So to create content reflecting Korean culture such as the Korean Nike commercial videos.
The desire for his parents to understand his humor was what inspired So to create content reflecting Korean culture such as the Korean Nike commercial videos.
“They were in tears laughing and that made me feel really good,” So mentions.
Now, So’s current passion project is a short film, which will be entirely in Korean specifically because he wants his parents to understand it.
So said his strongest inspiration for writing humor is his difficult personal experiences. Among his video blogs, some of the topics include racism, sexism, poverty and body perception.
“What people don’t understand too is that [comedy is] very dark,” said So.
Growing up in Sacramento, California, as an immigrant was challenging for the thriving YouTuber.
“I grew up poor as hell. You know, my parents struggled to get me over here, and we had no money in our bank account, and we were starving – you know, is that funny?”
As a comedian, So said he strives to make content that will last, that he’s proud of, but most of all, makes people laugh.
“That’s what comedians do,” said So. “We have this ability to take pain and English and flip perspective on it.”
Photo by Cresonia Hsieh