BRITTLESTAR: Stratford comic a hit on social media

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Stewart Reynolds is enjoying middle-age success as a breakout social media star known simply as Brittlestar.

The 51-year-old Stratford, Ont., native is making people laugh with his comedic and family friendly monologues on everything from “the Amazing Race Vaccine Ontario” to “Astra Ok?”

To date, all of his videos have enjoyed 600 million views combined.

“I think that (my growing popularity) just speaks to the type of content that I was creating and the type of news environment and the zeitgeist of this past 15 months (of the pandemic)” said Reynolds on a Zoom call from Stratford.

“People were hearing stuff. They were eager to get new information. They were eager for updates. And it made my job fairly easy to kind of go in and say, ‘Okay, well, I can help and kind of chew this message up and maybe spit out a version that’s a bit easier to digest or at least a bit comedic.’ ‘Cause it was pretty dark.”

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Meanwhile, Reynolds’ own self-branding as “the internet’s favourite dad” was stolen from fellow Ontarian Alan Thicke, whose slogan used to be “America’s favourite dad.”

The two funnymen worked on an ET segment together once in California.

“He was an amazing, super nice guy, and I thought (after he died), ‘Well, he’s not using it anymore,’ (so) I’ll change it to ‘the internet’s favourite dad,’” said Reynolds.

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Brittlestar’s rise as a social media star began back in February 2013 after his web development business started to fail during the 2008 recession and he started doing short comic videos on Vine before it disappeared.

“Vine was life-changing for our family for sure because we were in dire fiscal straits,” said Reynolds, who has two sons — Owen, 21 and Gregor, 19 — with wife Shannon.

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“In August of 2013 I was contacted by Disney to say, ‘Hey, would you like to come to California and make some videos while you’re visiting here. We have an event called Social Media All-Stars.’ And it was people like me, and Grumpy Cat, and that type of thing. Grumpy Cat, by the way, had her own trailer. However, I did not.”

From that, Reynolds was invited to work on some Disney campaigns and by the end of it had about 1.2 million Vine followers before that platform folded and he moved onto YouTube (18,900 subscribers), Facebook (249,000 followers), Twitter (90,800 followers), Instragram (30,500 followers) and TikTok (150,700 followers).

He’s a natural on camera but wasn’t a theatre performer despite growing up in Stratford — although his kids, also content providers along with his wife, were cast in local productions.

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But being from a Scottish family, “the goal when you’re chatting with people is to make them laugh at all times,” and his comic inspiration is SCTV.

“That whole crew of people I used to stay up late to watch,” said Reynolds. “When Andrea Martin was here in the theatre in 1980, I made my mom stop the car, and have us go up and talk to her. And yeah, SCTV is a huge influence. And I think that’s kind of what I’m able to do. Create that kind of silly, sort of, sketch comedy that’s super low budget.”

Among Brittlestar’s famous fans now are Dave Bautista and Jon Cryer and even the Obamas, who invited him to the White House for an arrival ceremony for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“There was a whole bunch of Canadian ‘celebs,’ I’m quoting there,” said Reynolds of the White House gig.

“And I was not invited to the state dinner. However, I was invited to the lawn. It was exciting.”

jstevenson@postmedia.com

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