With today’s media-savvy society and the countless mediums through which we are now able to express ourselves, people are eager to show the world who they are and what they can do. The most effective way to do this is presumably through Youtube; with 800 million visitors each month, there are many performers posting videos showcasing the breadth of their artistic capabilities. Sometimes you come across those mildly entertaining, and some for the wrong reasons. And once in a very great while, you come across something incredibly rare: undiscovered raw — and undeniable — talent.
Enter Alexander Farnham. Alex, for short. You may know him from his Youtube channels: his funny sketches on DamItsGood808, and vlogs and extra footage on AlexFarnhamTV. Over the past couple years he’s gained the favor and appreciation of a rapidly growing fan base, with dead-on impersonations of A-list Hollywood icons and movie characters, as well as original characters in shorts and music videos — the majority of which he writes, films, and produces himself. This includes his highly-appraised Ace from the 1994 hit comedy, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Pirates of the Caribbean’s ever-tipsy protagonist, Captain Jack Sparrow. Since 2008, Farnham has posted around 500 videos altogether, garnering over 180,000 subscribers, and nearly 50 million video views.
But there is certainly more to him than that tall, sturdy build and charmingly handsome face — which, with a little makeup, hair mousse, and sharp acting chops, can miraculously be transformed into a thousand. With talent like this and no acting classes prior, a story on his background is certainly worth delving into. (If you haven’t seen his videos yet, do so before continuing the article and it’ll make sense. Do it. We’ll wait.)
The 24-year-old performer moved to the Big Island of Hawaii with his parents at the age of three. Growing up in the islands, Farnham started to imitate British and Australian accents from what he saw on television; to the surprise of his parents, he did it convincingly. He also took a liking to recreating what he saw on the big screen, on himself.
“I’ve always been a big Johnny Depp fan. When I was going to school, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie just released. As a kid I’d play around and draw on my face to make myself look like certain characters, and one day I tried Captain Jack Sparrow. Eyeliner, mustache. And I had braces at the time, so it kind of looked like his gold teeth,” he laughs, during an exclusive interview with Sarah Scoop. “One time in school I dressed up and did it on the morning broadcast. Everyone was like, ‘woah’.”
It was his ability to do this and Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura so well that gained him majority of his initial audience from the Mainland and other countries. Farnham can channel a mean Ace — from his unusually exaggerated intonation to the dramatic gait. And of course, that awesome hairdo.
“The woman who does my hair has been doing my hair for the past 16, 17 years,” Farnham explained fondly. “A friend suggested I do Ace Ventura, so I asked if she could make my hair like his. She said she would try, and she did it. We then ended up doing a skit, my first Ace Ventura video.”
That first video, entitled, “Ace Ventura Saves a Guinea Pig,” has over 1 million views, showing Farnham in the full Ace get-up: from the bright aloha shirt over a white wifebeater, down to the bright blue, striped pants.
Besides acting, he eventually developed an interest in the substance and structure of film, looking at the cinematic aspects of what makes a good movie good, and a flop, a flop – the editing, camera angles, lighting. So he did what every kid with a passion does. He went to school for it. After graduating from LA Film School in 2007, Farnham moved back to his hometown of Kona and began making videos. As any young adult does after finishing school, he had to work hard to support himself when first starting out; however, like any dedicated artist, Farnham refused to do it without incorporating his undying fascination in acting and film. He entered many video contests, making commercials for name brand products. This includes one of his fans’ early favorite — “One Dolla,” a Ford XLT commercial, in which he plays dual roles of two men quarreling in heavy Hawaii slang (also known as “ pidgin”) over a lost-and-found dollar bill. Most of his contest entries can still be viewed on his DamItsGood808 channel today.
“Some contests I won, some I got finals, and sometimes I didn’t get anything. Usually the prizes were cash, but sometimes it was like, a year supply of Swiffer products or something,” said Farnham.
It wasn’t long after that when things really started picking up for Alex. In 2009 he did a commercial for a local band promotion company called BAMP Project, headquartered on Oahu. In the next two years, he ended up doing promo videos and commercials for various local businesses and big name bands who came to play in the islands, such as All Time Low and Pepper, just to name a few. His sketches were witty as much as they were creative, and it was through some of these earlier videos that his original recurring characters were formed, such as Becky, Beck, Kamaina, and Pablo – the cumbersome Mexican midget.
Noticing his audience was growing, he began to do more sketches and music videos relevant to today’s pop culture staples. His Justin Bieber parodies, for example. Of course, the thought of a young man imitating a then 16-year-old boy with a child’s voice sounds absurd – but again, he made it work. And it is indeed hilarious, because even if Farhnam stands broad-shouldered at 5’11”, his high-pitched qips, childish smile, purple tee and cap, and generosity of peace signs recreate an unmistakable Bieber. (Though what might actually be even funnier, are the impersonations he does of a Bieber fan girl: Check that out here.)
Although all of his videos deserve standing ovations, Farnham’s talent seems to shine through the most in his Auditions series. Being quite the chameleon, he takes on the roles of various actors — from Orlando Bloom to Mark Wahlberg — all vying for parts in recent popular movies (Twilight, The Avengers, Drive). Those impressions are scary accurate. And his comedic timing? Impeccable.
Fast forward a year or so. Today, he still runs both of his channels, plus works full time as an actor and musician for Maker Studios – an up-and-coming Los Angeles based company co-founded in 2008 by one of the first Youtube comedians, Lisa Donovan. Maker Studios, now comprised of over 1000+ channels, serves as a social hub and foundation for the most dedicated and talented Youtubers, helping “bridge the gap” between Youtube and television. At Maker, Farnham works on his bigger budget projects, namely the parody music videos for his Mockstars series, as well as cameo-ing in other Youtube artists’ videos. On average, Farnham releases two videos a week. One of his most recent Maker Studios endeavors includes a “What Makes You Beautiful” parody. (We don’t know about you, but we think Alex makes a cute Zayn Malik.)
Despite his Maker job in LA, from time to time he still films and produces in the islands, traveling back and forth from Kona to LA like any dedicated businessman would. In fact, Alex is home. At the moment Farnham is in Maui, working as part of a rap ensemble called W. I. T. (What I Think) on an exciting new side-project: an upcoming album slated for release in January of next year. He is also currently working on finding professional representation so he can further pursue his acting career and audition for television and movie roles.
What first started out as a boy picking up accents, drawing on his face and donning costumes to portray different characters, and paying meticulous attention to the structural detail of film, has quickly turned into something that America sees perhaps every blue moon — especially coming from Hawaii. Whether it is the local culture of the 50th state, a collaboration of ethnic traditions, or perhaps a mixture of both, most graduates from the islands tend to lean towards the medical, agricultural, or athletic fields — which is great, don’t get me wrong. But there is something insistently special in the case of Alex Farnham. It’s not every day we come across a talented young man from a small Hawaii town, who’s general societal norms growing up included surfing, music, beach bumming, and having a good time with friends — perhaps the farthest thing from encouraging kids to hone skills akin to those of Hollywood performers.
It’s pretty impressive that Alex is able to appeal to a variety of different audiences while simultaneously keeping his content PG. And what’s even greater is, after the success and all that his career promises, he still the same old “Aloha spirit.” Farnham is very humble and friendly underneath it all. He still defines “success” as being hard-working and always striving to perfect one’s craft; doing what makes you happy, and at the same time being respectful and helping others when you can.
“I want my fans and followers to know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them. I owe everything to them. He pauses, hesitant. I then caught a glimpse of the real Alex Farnham; the actual person behind the shenanigans being serious for once. And what he had to say before we concluded our interview was deeply enlightening. “I do also want people to know that with this LA thing and working with Maker Studios, it is a lot of hard work. I don’t know what people think about it, but it’s not just like I wake up every day and make a funny video that easy. When I graduated from film school, I moved back to Hawaii because I didn’t want to get caught up in the Hollywood scene so quick. I struggled to make money. I entered 70 video contests in that first year, and that’s how I supported myself. Even when I first went to the Studio, I didn’t have a place to stay, so I lived in the office and slept there. I got a gym membership, went and showered at the gym, and other than that I was just at that studio non-stop editing music and videos, meeting people, making connections. Even right now in Maui it’s the same thing. I run three or four miles a day to the nearest gym to shower and stay healthy. I just want to make it a point to everyone that sometimes you just have to work hard and do whatever it takes to follow your dreams, to get to where you want to be in life.”
His fans, including myself, have had their eyes on Alex for a long time now, and we see that he already has the determination and makings of a solid actor. His viewers seem to collectively agree that he is someone they’d like to see on the big screen. Farnham possesses an intangible gift — something that a lot of people on today’s television and movie screens lack. It’s just a short amount of time before the promising actor catches the attention of someone who has the power to do something about that.