Rap Battle MrBeast 'Skitzy' Tells Us What It's Like To Become A Viral Meme
Last year, artist, YouTuber and actor Skitzy gained sudden viral acclaim when a clip of him playing MrBeast in a 2021 rap battle video started to see widespread use in memes. The clip became one of the most popular memes on TikTok and YouTube for Skitzy's bizarro exaggerated version of MrBeast, inspiring everything from remixes to YouTube Poops to an actual meeting between MrBeast and fake MrBeast.
We spoke with Skitzy (shortly before he met the real MrBeast) to learn all about the origins of the meme and learn what it's like to become a viral meme overnight.
Q: Before we get into the meme, what would you say you're most known for online?
A: I've been known for a couple of things. I ran a My Little Pony ask blog named Ask Ronin Applejack back in the day, but I'd say besides that, my rap battle contributions. I was a big comic duber back in the day for my Undertale, Deltarune and Bendy and the Ink Machine voice acting.
Q: What was the first kind of content you made online?
A: When I first started, I just did gameplay videos for the most part, but I quickly found out that wasn't really what I was going for. So after a while of playing around with stuff, I ended up doing comedic sketches [based] around the My Little Pony community. At that time, I was doing a lot of My Little Pony sketches, so that's where I got the name Skitzy because I made skits.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to get into voice acting?
A: My first comic dub was seven years ago. I saw a lot of people doing it online and I wanted to really get into the voice acting deal. I was really into Undertale at the moment. I'd seen other people do the voices and I wasn't entirely satisfied with them, so I wanted to give my own spin on it.
Q: Why did you stop doing comic dubs?
A: I just felt the process was really long and arduous. Every time I would try and find a comic dub that I like, I always had to contact the artist to make sure that they were okay with it. Then it's a matter of waiting and then I had to voice act it, edit it, put it all together. It's one of the easier kinds of content to do, but it's still a long process.
Q: So what is the 'Rap Battle MrBeast' Meme?
A: I'm not entirely sure myself, I think it's mostly just an [excuse] for people to be creative. I think the expression along with the booming voice just gives some real comedic [opportunities]. It's just goofy overall.
Q: When did you first get involved acting in rap battle videos and why?
A: I started getting involved in that back in like 2016, 2017 maybe, back when Epic Rap Battle Parodies would still happen, but then I got in with Freshy Kanal and I've been working with him a lot.
I like doing the acting. People in the community know me because I'm very expressive, I have a lot of costumes, I'm a good makeup artist. I'm a big cosplayer.
Q: How did you get involved with the 'MrBeast vs. Seong Gi-Hun' video?
A: Basically they were thinking about the idea, Seong Gi-Hun versus MrBeast. I heard the name MrBeast and I had done a TikTok previously of me dressing up as MrBeast and I thought I looked a lot like him. So I'm like, 'Freshy Kanal, if you don't give me this role, I'm gonna literally die.' [chuckle]
@skitzy_va I'm Skitzy and I'm funny meme #fyp #mrbeast #mrbeastmemes ♬ original sound – Skitzy
Q: What's the secret to playing MrBeast?
A: It's really just a matter of doing the eyes and the mouth. During the filming of the rap battle, I actually stuck a lot of gum under my lips to give myself kind of a pouty lips look, so that my smile is much more held back because I like to smile at full gums, but Jimmy smiles different.
Q: Were you a MrBeast fan before acting in the rap battle?
A: Oh yeah, a lot of people assume that I got this shirt because of the MrBeast battle, but for the actual fact is I bought it a long time ago during the episode where he bought out the Save-A-Lot and was giving a lot of food to people, I respected that. I'm like, 'at this point, he just deserves my money.' So I decided to get MrBeast merch. I'm not a big fan of YouTuber merch, but this one really stuck out with me
Q: Was filming a long process? Did the MrBeast costume take a lot of time and effort?
A: Oh, yeah. [chuckle] Usually when I film with Freshy Kanal, we just do it in one long session of about 4-8 hours. Sometimes it could take less or more depending on what's going on. It's a very lengthy process 'cause you gotta do takes and takes and I'm not very great at lip-syncing.
But this was one of those special moments where he made me do it for three days in a row. So I had to apply the makeup and facial hair every day. 'Cause the facial hair in the video was not real. I had shaved it because I didn't think I would need it at that point. But yeah, I had to apply the facial hair and the makeup and the wig and all that stuff for three days in a row before work. MrBeast is one of my simpler makeups, but it still took about 30 minutes to an hour to do.
Q: What's the most elaborate cosplay you've ever pulled off for content?
A: In terms of a rap battle and public stuff, my most elaborate one is Count Olaf. I had to do a prosthetic nose, facial hair, aging, all that fun stuff. But in terms of just regular cosplay it's Simon Petrikov from Adventure Time. That took me about three hours to do.
My most popular cosplay #AdventureTime #cosplay pic.twitter.com/sojmKScOZP
— Skitzy (Comms Closed) (@Skitzy_VA) January 10, 2023
Q: When did you first become aware that the MrBeast clip was becoming a viral meme?
A: I was aware of it pretty much immediately. Me and the rap battle community are pretty tightly knit, so they always let me know what's going on. But it originally blew up in April . We were like, 'Oh, it's a meme.' Then it just kind of died down. Nothing really happened for me. It was a fun little blip in history.
Then it really started taking off on the 20th of December . That's when I came out on Twitter and I'm like, 'I'm the MrBeast guy.' I was getting bombarded by DMs and followers. It's been crazy, I think I got to like 10K [followers] in less than a week on Twitter.
Which is great because it really lets me go back to what I was doing. I was at 181 followers on Twitter before all of this. So now that the MrBeast meme has died down and people know me more for me, I can go back to doing my art and my cosplay and now I actually have people that will listen to my funny tweets.
Q: Did you understand the meme when it first blew up? Do you follow memes and meme culture closely?
A: I'm only 26 years old. I reckon meme culture outpaces you quick. [chuckle] I'm up to date on all the memes, but some of these memes go under the radar and some of them I just don't understand. Personally, I don't think the MrBeast meme is the funniest thing ever, I just really love the creativity around it.
Obviously, on its own, it doesn't really make me chuckle, but the things that people have been doing with it are absolutely amazing. Some of them are really funny, but most of them are just really impressive.
Q: Do friends and family know about the meme? What have their reactions been like?
A: My best friend, he's been really supportive, he's been having a lot of fun with it. My friends, my family, they're supportive of it, but they're a little bit out of the loop on that. So they're like, 'Yes. Very cool.'
I think they're just happy for my success overall, but a lot of my friends in the communities I'm in, they've been loving it. So, my close friends and family don't really know much about it, but my online friends, [chuckle] they're going crazy.
Q: Have you been embracing the meme?
A: I've been embracing it all. I've been wanting to become a meme for a long time, this is one of like my bucket list kind of goals. Obviously you can't predict a meme, there's no science to it, but I was very prepared to become a meme. Even then it can quickly outpace you. Like I said, almost 10K in a week is a lot of pressure and a lot of attention all at once.
Q: What are some of your favorite ways that people use the meme?
A: I think my favorite examples are fan art 'cause people do some really great things with fan art. The YTPs are really good, but as an artist myself, I really appreciate the fan art. I think a second one would be when people do like a sketch or like a transcendent meme, not just a MrBeast theme remixed. The remixes are great, but I love when they just take the green screens and roll with them.
Q: Do you plan on doing any other content with the MrBeast cosplay?
A: I'm definitely gonna keep it going for a while, but like I said, I'm not gonna make this my life, I got other things. I'm not trying to die with the meme, so if it blows up in popularity again, then I'll throw my hat in the ring, but as soon as it dies down, I'll go back to doing my normal thing. I'm the MrBeast guy, but MrBeast ain't my life. I love the meme, I'm not trying to be the meme.
Q: What is it that you think attracts people to the meme? Why do you think it's so memeable?
A: I think a lot of people just like the quirkiness, the outrageousness. Just the name 'MrBeast,' he has like a very professional thing going on. I reckon he's very tight-knit at this point. Seeing MrBeast in a goofy light and with an upbeat mood in this really difficult time, it just makes people happy.
They see my expression and they're like, 'He looks like he's having a lot of fun.' As I said, I think the main appeal is that it's outrageous, it's goofy.
Q: Was the famous 'jazz hands' move seen in the meme improvised?
A: Oh yeah that's improvised. I actually did several generally clickbaity hand motions and that's just the one they decided to go with. It has a very ring master, announcer [vibe] about it. It's very grandiose
Q: What do you think sets your interpretation of MrBeast apart from the real MrBeast?
A: The way I portray MrBeast is… I don't know how he is in real life or anything but he has a very 'awkward guy' vibe about him. He looks like he knows how to be in front of the camera but at the same time doesn't know how to be in front of the camera.
I don't mean this in any disrespectful way. It's kind of like Sean Evans from Hot Ones. So I just basically try to hone in my expressions so that I don't do anything that seems too outrageous. I wanna keep my hands very very close to me 'cause he doesn't do a whole lot of hand motions. He's not trying to be a big speaker with a lot of hand motions.
Q: Did you expect the video to go viral when you were filming it?
A: : I expected it to have success, even more so than it currently has because of the MrBeast cosplay. It was posted right at the peak of Squid Game as well, the timing was perfect. MrBeast just said that he was gonna do a Squid Game thing around the time the rap battle was posted so I thought it would be way bigger back in the day. It's actually gotten three million views in the past month.
Q: Did you ever expect the MrBeast cosplay to become a meme?
A: This is actually one of the ones I didn't think would become a meme. I thought Steve Irwin versus Bear Grylls or Count Olaf versus Loki would become a meme. Obviously, I don't expect any of them to become a meme, maybe like a little joke here and there. But it makes sense that MrBeast would have been the one to be the meme. You can try to become a meme but the Internet is the shepherd.
Q: What's your favorite part about becoming a meme?
A: I'd say, as most people would say, it's definitely all of the attention. Like I said, now I can get more into doing my own stuff. People DM me constantly. People are always popping into my Discord Group. People are constantly making fan art. It's just really nice to be recognized.
I Don't hold this against Freshy Kanal or anything, but by the time I had become the meme, I volunteered and I made zero money off of [the video]. At this point with the little video messages and stuff, I've made a little over $300 so it's definitely gonna come back around.
Q: What have you learned from becoming a meme?
A: That people are incredibly talented with whatever you give them. It could be one second, 10 seconds, an hour, a small picture, or an entire movie. People are incredibly creative and I already knew this about artists and editors and all this stuff but you'd really don't know it until you see it.
Q: What's some advice you'd give to people trying to do what you do?
A: I don't know about voice acting as I'm not a big voice actor and I don't consider myself a super professional one. But in terms of rap battle and acting don't be afraid to scream at the top of your lungs. A lot of people like to hold it back and that's what really stops their acting from shining.
Also, don't talk so much. [laughter] Some people when they become big, they wanna say everything that comes to their mind. You gotta take a second and ask yourself, 'is this really worth posting?' I feel like that's where a lot of people get into trouble. I've been very adamant about keeping my political opinions to myself even though I think I have pretty good political opinions. That's not what the internet wants to hear. So I'm not trying to say that.
You can support Skitzy by following him on Twitter @skitzy_va and YouTube at Skitzy_VA._
Additional comments have been disabled.