When college student Craigery Morgan uploaded his spoof of the Saturday Night Live sketch “Surprise Party” to YouTube, he thought some of his friends might laugh and post it online, and a few days later, all would be forgotten. Now, with 3.5 million views and counting, he’s a bonafide YouTube star — and the fact that he routinely performs comic skits without his shirt on has fans begging for more.
Currently attending college in Orlando, Fla., Craigery says he can’t wait to start posting videos of his own comic bits. We e-mailed back and forth with the 20-year-old aspiring comic actor to talk about his newfound success, inspiring gay teens, and the real reason he goes shirtless on cam.
The Advocate: Three and a half million views is a huge number even for celebrities with established followings. How many views did you think you'd get?
Craigery Morgan: I wasn't expecting more than just a few views. I had uploaded the film to share with my friends from Vero Beach [Fla.] who were now at various colleges across the nation. We do this pretty often to stay in touch with each other and share our brand of humor. One of my friends from Orlando decided to post the video to his facebook account, and it just went viral from that point, which was incredible to watch happen!
Why did you choose the SNL skit “Surprise Party”?
It's one of my favorite skits from Kristen Wiig, and I must have watched it a dozen times and knew it very well. I had already made a few other videos and posted them to YouTube before “Surprise Party,” so I guess this one just had the magic recipe to take off.
How long did it take you to memorize?
I usually watch these skits while I am doing my homework rather than listen to music. I must have listened to it 50 times in the background while I studied, and I've studied Kristen Wiig's style for years, so I just knew the skit and what to do.
Right off the bat, you got a ton of attention — particularly from the gay blogs. Were you expecting that?
I was not expecting anything, and I feel lucky that I have had this opportunity at all. I am a huge fan of Lady Gaga, and she is a big promoter of the gay community. I feel very honored that the gay community has embraced me in a similar manner, at least for this video. I never expected to go viral, so I am honored that my work has brought so much laughter into the world.
How many hits do you figure you got solely because you recorded the video with your shirt off?
I only recorded the video with my shirt off because I'm a poor college student living in Florida. It gets really hot down here, even in the fall. Being shirtless is just something we do down here at home.
Your bio says you're an aspiring comedic actor. Which comedians do you look up to most?
I absolutely look up to Kristen Wiig and her comedic styling. She is my idol.
You're still in college right now. What do you hope to do when you graduate?
I hope that I graduate with a degree in computer science and then attempt to go into a comedy troupe or show, if I am lucky. If that doesn't pan out, I will always have my degree to fall back on.
I see you're taking requests for new videos now. When do you plan to record your next?
I plan on recording new videos as often as I can. I have a lot of original characters that I would like to share with the community that has developed around my comedy! I hope everyone will appreciate them as much as my lip-synch acts.
In a week when there was so much negative news in gay media about teens killing themselves after being harassed and bullied, your video was a bright spot. Are you comfortable having teens look up to you?
Absolutely. Bullying and harassment are signs of a weak soul. If my ability to be myself and to play my own unique mix of comedy without fear of what people will think gives others the courage to be themselves or to resist bullying and attacks directed toward them, then we all win.
Ideally, where would you like the success of this video to take you?
Ultimately, being on Saturday Night Live would be the best.