Traveling three hours to see a person you usually only see on a screen seems a tad deranged, but definitely worth the time. YouTube sensation Philip DeFranco, 28, took Toronto by storm last month with the long-awaited DeFranco Does Toronto, the first show of his on the eastern side of Canada.
DeFranco, a Bronx native, started on YouTube in 2006 and had gradual ups and downs in his career. He eventually established SourceFed, which is now a Discovery digital network, has nearly 3.5 million subscribers, and resides in Los Angeles.
Although my drive to Toronto was tedious, there was plenty of time to see what the city had to offer. Elgin Theatre & Winter Gardens hosted DeFranco Does Toronto, which left the Eaton Centre mall across the street the optimal place to spend some time before the show. Before proceeding to the Eaton Centre, checking out the scene near the venue was the next best thing. Many crowded around the theater to get the surprise of a lifetime. DeFranco, along with friends and performers Joe Bareta and Steve Zaragoza, greeted fans outside in a casual setting. Nerves were building for many longtime viewers after finally seeing the people they see every day, but this time not through a smartphone or a computer.
Teens and adults, males and females alike, gathered around to finally meet the Internet stars. As hugs were given and received, and memories were being made, the contained chaos became more exhilarating by the moment. Being one of the many who have waited years for a just few moments of contact and finally being able to achieve such a goal was unfathomable.
Zaragoza, 32, bounced around laughing and brought out the youthful glow of the event. Bareta, 31, was more subdued, but not by much. And DeFranco was exactly the man seen on the computer screen. His persona was glowing, but he seemed like just an average guy. All three were extremely personable.
The show itself opened with Bareta and Zaragoza performing songs of improv. Songs about Toronto’s fabulousness and poutine brought the crowd to life and “The Whale Song” was well received by the audience. Although it sounds mad for men in their 30s to be singing tales of whales, it was all in good fun. Sure enough, DeFranco eventually came out on the stage. The night was full of laughter, stories and fun.
From the front row of the floor to the last row of the balcony, smiles were from ear to ear with 2½ hours of continuous laughter. Overall, it was a night exceeding expectations.
Before the show, DeFranco sat down for a few moments to answer some questions:
NeXt: What did you aspire to do as a teenager?
Philip DeFranco: I wanted to be a doctor because doctors make a lot of money and travel the world. About three years into college, I realized that it wasn’t for me. I started my YouTube videos, dropped out of school, and it luckily worked out.
NeXt: Do you think teenager Phil would be proud of what you’re doing now?
PD: I think more so confused. It really wasn’t a thing when I was growing up to be on the Internet. I think he’d be happy, though.
NeXt: What was your influence for starting SourceFed?
PD: Well, I wanted to make small videos on my channel. When you’re talking about eight things in a video, it’s really hard to come up with a title that says everything. Creating SourceFed was kind of the first step to bringing up new talent.
NeXt: What’s to come for you in the future?
PD: Well, look out for new people and new channels. Hopefully, I will find another hobby that is not only creative, but brings success to my family.
Deanna Garwol is a sophomore at Immaculata Academy.