'Honey Badger' narrator Randall talks about his viral sensation (Q&A)
The "Honey Badger" narrator sat down with OnTheRedCarpet.com to talk about his intentions and what has happened since his YouTube video "The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger" went viral.
The YouTube video was voiced by Randall from Randall's Wild Wild World of Animals. The Honey Badger is just one of several videos on Randall's YouTube page, which feature him narrating over National Geographic footage.
"The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger" video has received over 37.9 million views since being uploaded just over a year ago, on January 18, 2011. Randall, who remained anonymous until revealing himself about a year after the video became an internet sensation, is currently promoting his new book, "Honey Badger Don't Care: Randall's Guide to Crazy, Nastyass Animals," which is available now on Amazon.com.
Randall's father was a cameraman for Marlon Perkins's wildlife series "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom." Randall is a graduate of both St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College in Moorpark, California. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Randall talked to OnTheRedCarpet.com about his sudden fame, how his life has changed and what his hopes are for the future, which include working on an animated series with comedian and actor Harland Williams, who is best known for playing a police officer who drank Jim Carrey's character's urine in "Dumb & Dumber."
How did you the "The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger" video come about?
RANDALL: When my assistant showed me the original Honey Badger video, I was just... I couldn't believe how boring the original narration was for such an amazing animal. So I've always just had a natural talent for narrating things and just describing things and I love animals. Posted it and just never thought it would catch on the way it did. I'm just so pleased. I know the Honey Badger is pleased because frankly, it's a threatened species and it's getting all this great attention so mission accomplished.
When did you find out that it was THE video of the year? How did it progress?
RANDALL: Within the first two weeks, it started just climbing. By the end of the first week of posting it, it reached 1,000 and I said, 'Okay, this is catching on. That's nice.' Two weeks, 100,000 views. By the end of the month, it's like half a million and I was like, 'Wow, what is going on here?' Meanwhile, you know, Rebecca Black is out there, doing her thing. Then I'm like, I wonder if this is going to turn into like a 90 million-viewed video. What I love most now is that it's in dribs and drabs. People are still finding out about it. It's been more than a year so its life is still out there. For me it's been amazing. It's such a thrill.
Are you benefitting from the video's popularity?
RANDALL: It's actually beneficial to NatGeo, National Geographic is obviously thrilled with the exposure that they're getting to their work. What it means for me is that I'm able to bring attention to Colleen and Keith Begg, who are the original documentarians who live in South Africa and studied these honey badgers out in the Kalahari. That's what I'm getting out of it! Is just the thrill of the exposure that this animal is getting that it really needs.
Good for National Geographic, Good for the Honey Badger, but also good for you commercially, right?
RANDALL: It's trademarked. I never expected when I posted this thing that I would have to go through this whole legal business and mumbo jumbo and I'm just a babe in the woods when it comes to it, seriously. I'm just like a doe walking the forest. I don't understand enough.
This book is fantastic. There were so many projects with the birth of this video that were coming my way, so I just teamed up with Andrews McMeel Publishing and found that they were the best publisher to work with - they got it, they understood what I was trying to do. And basically, I just wanted to expose people to a lot of animals they've never heard of. A lot of these animals are either endangered, sadly, or threatened. And I think I found a good recipe of combining humor with education. The book has been doing really well and I'm just excited to go on tour to promote it and meet people who are fascinated by animals. We're not alone on this planet!
What is the most surprising part about the fan reactions?
RANDALL: The most surprising part to me was reading this recent Vogue issue with Taylor Swift. She said that she could quote the "Honey Badger" video in its entirety. That just kind of blew my mind... It was surreal. I mean for me, I'm naturally reacting. As much as I like wildlife animals and nature, I'm absolutely terrified of it. I can't sugar coat it. It's easy for so many narrators to just be like, 'And that's just the way it is.' I can't do that, if I'm scared, I'm scared.
How much of what we're seeing right now is really an act?
RANDALL: This is me all the time. I'm an animal activist. I've just been waiting forever for the opportunity to do something, to have a voice out there speaking on behalf of animals. Deep in my heart, my background experience is theater. I just really wanted to be a playwright and get involved in the world of theatre but it didn't quite work out. Since an early age, my father being a cameraman for 'Wild Kingdom,' I've just always loved animals. He would bring home marvelous footage and when I was little I was always encouraged to just... go to town. I had no clue what I was talking about. 'That's a giraffe!' I mean, I didn't know what was going on. But this, for me, is my talent and anything I can do to save these animals and just inform people about it - that's me in a nutshell, seriously."
We didn't know who you were until just recently. Were you hiding on purpose?
RANDALL: In a way, I was hiding on purpose. It's the same reason why I don't want anyone to know my last name, aside from the fact that it's really embarrassing. But I figured why not just be like the Cher of wildlife narrators? You don't need to know my last name. It's irrelevant. No one needs to know what I look like. Its irrelevant.
How did you end up in L.A.?
RANDALL: I wound up here about four or five years ago. I'm a New York City native. I just figured, time to get out, change my environment and see what I can do out here. I tried my best to get into acting. I was a background extra but I was terrible because I kept looking at the camera. The directors would get so pissed. 'Stop looking at the camera and just walk by!' But I would walk by and just smile. So that didn't quite work out. So luckily, I just plugged away at just sending out voiceover work and just seeing what I can do.
What's your long-term goal?
RANDALL: My long-term goal is to sort of build a Honey Badger animal enterprise, an empire, so to speak. I want to create more videos about all these animals, you know, to further people's education and who we share the planet with. For me, I just want to pay the rent and help animals. Anything I can do to donate and give time back and money to these animals - that's really my mission and goal. That being said, we're pitching an animated series. I'm working with Harland Williams, which is so funny... I believe in the project. It's a really funny idea for an animated sitcom.
Watch the original YouTube video, "The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger" below [Warning: may contain explicit language and brutal honey badger killing sprees].
Reporting by Edd Amanko of KABC Television, parent company of OnTheRedCarpet.com that also produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet"(check for local TV listings).