Rudy Mancuso

Rudy Mancuso

Jasper Suyk

If you still don’t know the name Rudy Mancuso, you have surely seen the man.

The YouTube star, with more than 2.1 million subscribers on his channel, has been garnering millions of views of his hilarious videos that range from political satire to sophomoric (but extremely well-written) comedy. 

Mancuso is also a multi-instrumentalist who opened Justin Bieber’s concerts in Brazil in March with his one-man show. Born in New Jersey to an Italian father and a Brazilian mother, the trilingual Mancuso is a guest correspondent on Fusion’s expanded docu-series Outpost. Catch his serious side as he delves into the power of the Internet to shape culture and politics while revisiting his Brazilian roots. 

Mancuso spoke with Billboard on the finer details of being a multi-artist who becomes a social media star.

How do you describe yourself?

I would say I’m a performance artist trying to encompass a lot of different art forms in one. I love music and comedy and telling stories. 

But does it all stem from music? 

Music is my first love. My parents say I walked over to the piano when I was just about 5 and stared playing. I think it made sense to me. And through music I discovered the world of video production and storytelling. And through video production I discovered the world of comedy and performance. And before I knew It I was combining all those things. I started on my phone, then went to YouTube, then to TV and traditional media and then to the stage. 

You have your YouTube channel, but you’re also doing Outpost for Fusion. What is the major difference between the two? 

When I opened for Justin Bieber in Brazil, you saw a very musical side of me, and it was less about comedy. Similarly, with the Outpost special, you’re seeing a side of me that's truer to who I am. I’m not a Hispanic character, I’m not a comedian, per se. I’m just Rudy, a guy who’s curious. I sat down with a lot of creators in Brazil, a lot of artists and comedians, and the unique thing is I was me being myself. A lot of times it was dramatic. Other times, it was educational. It's a serious side of Rudy I hadn’t shown before. 

Your YouTube videos can be very provocative. “Crossing the Border,” which has over 8 million views, was hilarious, but very thought-provoking. Do you get criticism? 

Sure. I’m covering racy topics and I’m playing with race and social stereotypes, and there are always sensibilities with those topics. When it comes to comedy, and music as well, if I’m not pushing some kind of limit it’s not a success. 

Do you find that nowadays people are overly sensitive?

I think we live in an age where people are more easily offended and more sensitive than ever. And I don't blame them. We live in a time where there are a lot of things that are increasingly wrong with the world. And yet, I do believe the U.S. is even more sensitive. But I also think the whole world, U.S. included, loves to laugh and likes to make light of situations. My responsibility as an educator is to create art out of everything, and some of those things are sad, some are true. In the “Crossing the Border” video I made sure to criticize everyone and satirize everything. The end of the video is very sad, but if I’m going to make a video satirizing this topic I’m going to find the raciest punch I can find. 

Who has influenced your work? 

First and foremost, Charlie Chaplin. I can’t think of a better example of a single person who is able to encompass so many different forms of art, from acting, writing, directing, composing the music. He’s truly a one-man show.