Monday, 26 August 2019 12:39

Behind The Vape Cloud: Comedian Aristotle Georgeson takes his viral online persona Blake Webber from Instagram to the stage

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Aristotle Georgeson as Blake Webber. Aristotle Georgeson as Blake Webber. Courtesy Photo

Enter the world of Blake Webber. 

Seemingly born on the Internet just over five years ago, the self-proclaimed “vape god” emerged out of a cloud of smoke on Instagram. Then known as Blake Vapes, his early posts included a “documentary” where he boasts about his vaping skills and lifestyle, frequently blowing plumes from his e-cigarette while espousing his equally lofty mantras in a voice somewhere between South Park’s Eric Cartman and your average frat bro.

Quickly attracting attention, he became the subject of a 2015 Buzzfeed video that racked up well over 1 million views, while notoriously becoming the most disliked clip on the site. 

The only thing was – Blake wasn’t real.

The character creation of Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian Aristotle Georgeson, Blake Vapes came to life as an over-the-top alter-ego when he was smoking weed with some fellow comics. Mocking vape culture and social media fame alike, Georgeson began developing Blake online as something of a prank experiment.

“I’ve always tried to tread the line of what’s believable and what’s absolutely ridiculous,” Georgeson told Revue. “And it’s interesting to see people who get it and who are totally on board and are like, ‘Wow, this is hilarious.’ And then there are people who are like, ‘Is this guy for real? Is this a real thing?’ So it’s always toeing that line of what’s believable and what’s ridiculous.”

Georgeson himself was introduced to stand-up comedy at a young age. He grew up all over – including spending a couple summers and Christmases here in Michigan with his dad – and first got up onstage while in high school in Florida. He describes his early stand-up as “terrible,” but found that his knack for impressions and funny voices got laughs, so he decided to follow the path of comedy. 

While attending Florida State University, he worked at a comedy club, solidifying his dreams of making it in comedy while earning a degree in writing and media. After graduating, he began working in marketing and social media by day while spending his nights honing his stand-up skills onstage.

After struggling to score laughs with senior citizens in Boca Raton, he moved to California in 2013 and spent six years working with the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) Theatre in L.A. developing his sense of improv. 

“Improv gives you the ability to go with whatever happens,” Georgeson said. “And so with my current show, with Blake and everything, I incorporate those rules a lot because I love the payoff. So having that improv sort of foundation allowed me to embrace the chaos as opposed to pushing it away.”

A brilliant combination of spontaneous ad-libbing and scathing satire of social media, Blake often feels like a modern update on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G, or even Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton. But like fellow YouTube phenomenon Miranda Sings (aka Colleen Ballinger), so much of Georgeson’s success began with a voice.

“The voice sort of came out of an improv, but during a stand-up set,” Georgeson said. “The first premise I ever used Blake for was about vaping, like you never have to ask a vaper what they’re vaping on, they’re just gonna tell you. And I did it in the Blake voice and immediately it got laughs.”

Moving away from vape culture Georgeson rebranded his online presence as, Blake Webber in 2017. He started posting more voiceover clips, where Blake would dub over viral videos — especially ones featuring animals, Instagram models or celebrities, like rappers 6ix9ine and Cardi B. He also developed a world where Blake fends off interviews from TMZ, calls out his haters, and hosts his own talk show Podcast #KILLINIT on YouTube.

Currently, he has more than 1.4 million followers on Instagram, where his videos receive hundreds of thousands of views. As Blake, he’s appeared on Netflix’s Cooking on High and Viceland’s Flophouse, along with countless other podcasts and live appearances with his dub-step DJ duo Double Dare.

Recently, Georgeson started taking Blake out into the real world even more, developing his Killin’ The Game live show onstage, including an upcoming stop here in Grand Rapids at The Pyramid Scheme on Sept. 25. 

“It’s like going on Blake’s Instagram but live, so people really get a sense of the humor,” Georgeson said. “It’s broken down into three parts so you won’t get bored during the show. It’s not just one hour-long TED talk. It’s three 20-minute sections. So I feel like I’ve really done a good job of taking what you see on his Instagram and applying it to a live show so you see the best of this sort of world that he lives in.”

As technology continues to change the world we live in, Georgeson says it’s hard to give himself too much credit for changing the comedy game, but he hopes that Blake helps keep pushing it to the next level.

“I’ve been doing stand up for eight years now, and as Blake, I’ve been working on this show for about two years, and one of the things I wanted to apply is the idea of having visuals,” he said. “So the TEDtalk itself is an audio visual presentation because I feel like there are so many comedians. Stand-up has been around in the United States since the ’30s, I think, and it hasn’t really changed. It’s been people with microphones, and it’s the purest form of comedy because it’s just you and your jokes, but we’re in the future now. We have all this technology and I want to apply it to the stage because there are so many chances for punchlines through audio jokes, visual jokes, texts jokes on the screen, cues that I can do live with my presentation. It adds another dimension. 

“I’m not going to say that I’m the first person to do this or that I’m changing comedy, but it’s something that I wanted to incorporate because it’s different and it adds more elements that I think people can appreciate because it’s hard to go out nowadays. There’s so much stuff to do. You can just stay at home and watch all the comedy, or any movie, you can do anything you want from your house. So to draw people out, you have to give them something different and that’s what I really want to do.”

Blake Webber – LIVE!
The Pyramid Scheme
68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Sept. 25, 7 p.m., $18-47, 18 and older
pyramidschemebar.com, fusionshows.com

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