Image provided by the author.
Whoever believes in the motto “nice guys finish last” obviously hasn’t met Alfie Deyes.
After flying eight hours from the U.K. the day before, the 22-year-old YouTuber and daily vlogger greeted each fan who bought his second activity book, The Pointless Book 2 (out now), with kindness, engaged them in polite, enthusiastic conversation, broke the rules by posing for photos with them (a no-no according to the event page) and sent off each person with a sincere “Have a nice day” as a goodbye. As far we can tell, Alfie really is the same person over four million subscribers watch on the Internet, making the journey worth it for the many fans who lined up for the signing (the first of which began lining up at 5:45 a.m. that morning).
Just before Alfie—who was wearing a custom Blue Jays jersey gifted to him by a fan—stepped out to meet his adoring viewers, ANDPOP sat down with Alfie for a chat in a cramped room at the back of the Indigo bookstore that was hosting the signing. Alfie talked about Pointless Book 2, the creative freedom his audience gives him, not knowing who Danny Devito is and even dropped hints about his next book.
ANDPOP: I know a lot of your friends, a lot of YouTubers, have their own books now but they tend to be in the traditional vain—autobiographical or, in the case of Zoe [Sugg, Alfie’s girlfriend and fellow YouTuber Zoella], a nonfiction novel. Yours is more of an activity book. How was your writing process different?
Alfie Deyes: Well, they had the hard task of, take Zoe for example, actually writing a book. Writing a novel, that is like the last thing I could ever imagine doing. I was never into writing when I was younger; I was more into maths and science. My book probably has 10 words in it. [Laughs] People come up to me like, “I just read your book today,” and I’m like, “there’s only four words in there.”
Yeah, my book is obviously a completely different process because my book is more about ideas. Theirs is fulfilling a story and trying to make something engaging and you want to carry on reading. Mine’s more just for when you feel like you have nothing to do.
Did an idea pop into your head and you just made little notes along the way?
Yeah, yeah. Literally like that. With the first book, when I thought of the majority of the ideas I was actually on a trip around Italy with, like, probably about eight YouTubers—all boys. It’s like, “Guys, come help me think of these ideas. Come on, let’s do this, let’s do this.” So it’s probably even got a couple of their ideas in there. And I just spent the whole time whenever I was relaxing on my free time or on a long car journey [wondering], “What would I like to do now that would fulfill my time?”
And when the second book came out, I was like, “Okay, so I have to think of new creative ideas but let’s take book one and try to take it to another level, like try to make it more fun. Let’s make the app better than before.” So [if people] enjoyed this page more, now let’s see how we can make that even better.
So have you started working on the third book already?
I haven’t started working on a third book, a third Pointless book… I’ve got a third book coming out but I’m not allowed to say when or anything…
[Alfie’s manager: At the end of the year.]
At the end of the year.
Is it completely different?
Yeah, it’s completely different book. That’s all I can say. But with the book, again, it’s not, like, a typical book. It’s like another creative [one]—something different.
Is there going to be another app?
I don’t know yet! There could be! I don’t know.
YouTube has really opened the doors in terms of travelling but usually you’re with a lot of YouTubers because you’re going to a convention or are on a tour. But now you’re on a book tour by yourself. Is touring different now because you know all these people are here to see you and just you?
Yeah, I’ve never really thought about it like that. Now there’s like pressure for me to fulfill what they hope to see! Um, I think it’s absolutely awesome; it blows my mind every single time. People are tweeting at me at like 3 a.m. [going], “Oh, we’re waiting outside!” And I’m like, “I’m about to go to bed. I haven’t gone to bed yet and you’re already outside?” and stuff like that. It’s crazy and I’ll never understand that.
But the thing about people coming to meet me is I feel good [about it] because in my videos I’m completely myself. There isn’t like an act, I’m not putting on a persona. So, hopefully, when they meet me it’s exactly what they hope for because it’s not like I have to play up to be someone’s expectation. Fingers crossed.
I find that a lot of YouTubers who’ve been around for so long kind of go through what I’m coining right now as a “YouTube midlife crisis.” Like Chris Kendall (of Crabstickz) just recently released a video where he talks about how he doesn’t feel authentic. Is that something you’ve gone through? Because you’ve been on YouTube for so, so long as well.
I have. I’ve, like, grown up on it. Literally my life is on it.
It’s actually really funny because I saw your first video and your voice is so different.
Everything. I swear I didn’t have facial hair up until six months ago and then I just woke up [snaps fingers] and I had, like, four stubble [hairs]…
I think it’s hard to always try to be original on YouTube… I never set out to get anything that’s popular now, I set out to make fun videos. If I can take somebody away from what they’re going through—like if somebody’s having a bad time—for like five or ten minutes and [help them] forget about what’s going on, then that’s awesome. That’s the aim. And as long as I think about stuff like that happening, then I feel like my videos are doing a good job.
Do you ever feel like there’s a pressure to create certain types of videos?
My audience is like really, really relax. They’re like really cool and they know what I’m going to give them… There is trying to give your audience what they want, so I can see where the pressure, 100 per cent, lies. I can see where that is. But I always try and give them what I want and have an audience that will follow what I like doing. Like, I’m not going to make a video that I didn’t like doing because some people want me to do it. I’d rather make something where I had fun, and the people that are watching it are the people that enjoy what I’m doing. If you don’t enjoy my videos, then you don’t have to watch them. It’s as simple as that. If somebody comments, “Oh, this video is rubbish,” I’m like, “Oh, that’s awesome. You don’t have to watch it.” I don’t watch TV programs I don’t like. Just don’t tune in.
[My subscribers] part of my life and they have been for five, nearly six years now. So if I’m going to do something, I want them to know about it.
I know the vlogs are just a small, small fraction of your life but you’re also very honest in them and you tend to open up your life in them. But where do you draw that line—especially since you’re in a public relationship?
I don’t think I really have a line at all. I just try to film everything because I feel I put everything out there. Recently, I had a lot of problems with my chest for like eight or nine months. I had to do loads of blood tests and scans and x-rays and cameras down my throat and stuff. And I was like filming going through all of that like, “Let’s go and get all the results today, guys!” because I just want [my viewers] to be part of it. They’re part of my life and they have been for five, nearly six years now. So if I’m going to do something, I want them to know about it.
Because Zoe is also a vlogger, does it make it easier or harder to have two cameras in the relationship?
No, I think it’s cool. We vlog very differently. Like if we both daily vlog, we never really end up with the same videos kind of thing because she films more of what she’s wearing and what she’s doing, and I barely know what my videos are. I just film random rubbish and for some reason people watch it. I do try and remind people a lot to remember that you’re only seeing 12 minutes out of a 24 hour day [and not to] just believe everything you see. But yeah, I try and be honest and try to film everything I possibly can because I feel that way it sets like a “this is how it is” [standard]. But then obviously that opens you up to hate, because it’s directed at you rather than a persona that you’ve built. So when somebody’s like, “Oh, I don’t like it when Alfie does this” then it’s not criticizing my videos; it’s criticizing my lifestyle and my life choices. But yeah. I [still] like it.
I’m just going to move quickly into our random question time.
Go for it.
What’s your favourite Danny Devito movie?
I literally, I’m the worst with, like, getting thrown on the spot with actors. I don’t even know who that is. If you show me a picture I would know. I’m honestly the worst.
Have you ever seen Matilda?
He’s the dad in Matilda.
Again, I can’t picture anything! Maddie’s [Alfie’s manager] always says to me celebrities’ name and I’m like, “Can I see a picture? Oh! That person from that movie!” And she’s like, “Yes…”
Let’s go with Matilda! [Laughs]
Who would win in a fight: Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?
Definitely Santa Claus. Santa Claus is awesome.
If you and a bunch of YouTubers somehow ended up in an Anchorman news team battle royale, what would you weapon be?
My weapon… Oh my gosh. I don’t even know…. I don’t know.
Maybe a tripod or something?
Um…Yeah, we’ll go with a camera.
And last one: do you take your shoes off when you enter someone’s house?
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.