FRONTRUNNER Meets YouTuber Max Fosh

You may know him as Maximus Bucharest, the hit of London Fashion Week this time last year. You may know him as the “guy who does the StreetSmart videos” or who interviews people at weird and wonderful conventions. Soon, you’ll know him not just for his extremely entertaining videos, engaging interviewing style and bravado in awkward situations, but from his standup comedy, too. With a loyal fanbase of 159,000 subscribers and his content being seen by over 70 million people across the world, Max Fosh’s videos are more than just entertaining. He often inhabits the skin of a documentarian: interviewing adult entertainment stars, learning more about the drag community, and investigating ‘wife-carrying’ competitions. At other times, he’s just downright silly: duck-herding with Zac and Jay (creators of the Zac and Jay Show), doing crosswords with bankers, and interviewing drunk punters. It’s this versatility that makes his channel so worthwhile.

FRONTRUNNER sat down with Fosh to chat about his YouTube career so far, what it’s like behind the camera, and his future plans.

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Is there anything that you would consider yourself addicted to? For example, for me, it’s Diet Coke. Would yours be video views?

That’s a very good question. What happens is there’s not one thing, but when I find that thing, it will be constant for about six months, and then it will stop. At the moment, it’s currently one particular podcast by these two Australian guys, Hamish & Andy…previously it [was] bagels. I went through a phase of being addicted to bagels, and musical theatre, before that. So musical theatre, bagels, and podcasts of Australian men – that’s what I’m after.

It’s like [the] external validation that is so addictive. I don’t really understand when people say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about the views.’ I think people do care about views. I think they do. But as long as that’s not your only focus, and that’s not the only reason you’re doing it, I think you can have…a happy YouTube career. I think that’s the most important thing.

Are you the kind of person who listens to podcasts because you can’t stand to watch YouTube anymore, because you’re on YouTube?

Yes, my relationship with YouTube has changed a lot since I’ve become a YouTuber. What happens is when you are part of it, or part of it in a very small way, like I am, you start to analyse titles and videos and ‘Why have they done that?’ and ‘why have they done well?’ It does start to take the fun out of YouTube a little bit.

What’s your favourite thing about interviewing people for StreetSmart, UnConventional and your videos, in general?  What is it about interviewing people that gets you going?

The UnConventional videos…I love making [them] because those days of the filming are always so much fun and I never know what’s going to happen. I went to a metal-detecting convention. I ended up loving metal-detecting. It was so much fun. I could totally understand why people were doing what they were doing, and that’s the aim of the series. The aim of UnConventional is not to go in there, and say, ‘Oh my God, these people are so weird they love metal detecting,’ or, ‘These people spend so much time doing wife-carrying.’ It’s, ‘Why do people do this?’ and the answer is normally always something really simple: community. With StreetSmart, I’ve now done so many of them that I can almost guarantee what I know the other person is going to say to answer [a] question. I’ve done it a lot that I kind of end up repeating the same jokes or saying the same thing. I enjoy pushing myself to try and find questions I don’t know the answer to.

You have interviewed professional rugby players to see how intelligent they are, and done pretty much anything Zac and Jay [from the Zac and Jay show] tell you to do for content, amongst many other things…

[Laughs] Yep.

You’ve done so much. How do you keep ideas fresh, and keep the ideation process going when you’ve done so much and want to push a boundary there?

Ideas are tricky. Obviously, you garner support to your channel for a certain thing. But you can’t keep doing those [things] forever. So the drunk student videos that I started doing – that’s how it all started, as a bit of fun when I was at [university]. People came to the channel because of that. Now I’ve just turned 25, I can’t keep doing the drunk student videos anymore. You’ve got to try and keep that audience without alienating them by doing something completely different. Structurally, scheduling is a big thing because I’ve got to make sure every Sunday there is a video, so when can I film that? When’s that [event]? A lot of that is just googling weird events in the UK, at the moment.

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Your search history must be wild.

Yeah it’s crazy, it’s mad. I often get things from Instagram, or just kind of random thoughts [for video ideas]. So at the moment, I’m trying to film a video of trying to find a woman who has been in a stock photo in my flat for two years.

So now, you’re stuck indoors. Are you finding this process quite interesting coming up with new ideas or, is it like ‘this is actually quite challenging but I’m going to persevere’?

It is challenging because what’s interesting is that…having people watch your content is lovely. It’s one of the main reasons why I do this. But people have watched me because they like my certain style of content, interview-based stuff. Now, I can’t do interview-based content anymore, [it] is a problem. As a result, people aren’t going to watch it because that’s not what they initially subscribed for. That has been tricky trying to kind of meander my way into the commentary YouTuber area, which is easy to do when you’re at home alone. But it’s still really early; I don’t know how [subscribers are] going to react in terms of viewership. I’ve always been a big believer in that as long as I’m making videos that I enjoy making, that’s the most important thing.

How democratic is YouTube behind the scenes when you need to finance it and get sponsors? Would you say being a YouTuber is also about being a business-orientated person? What do you say to people who say ‘anyone can be a YouTuber’?

I think anyone can be a YouTuber, but I think if you go into starting [to become] a YouTuber with the idea that it’s going to become a monetised business, it’s the wrong attitude. It takes so long before you get that first paycheck from Google in the mail. I was so lucky that I met Zac and Jay, and we did a video that went super viral. I suddenly had a lot more people subscribing to me. But I think that now that it’s my job, and I’m kind of branching out into different things, I do think about it a lot. It is something you need to think about, because…it can be taken away so easily. Your job security really is very low on YouTube, so I would never suggest to someone to start YouTube to make money.

Do you have a favourite video you’ve created? Mine is when you stole Zac and Jay’s play button [awarded for getting 100k subscribers].

Really! You’re the only person who said that.

I just found it so funny, I really vibe with that video. Tell me more about that video. I want to know more about that idea.

That video was [that] I had a spare week. I went around to their house, just for dinner. I saw their plaque was there and I thought, ‘Why not do the most extreme thing I could possibly think of?’ And the flights to Shanghai were pretty cheap, so I just hopped on. The guy is just not giving either plaque back. I gave it to this kid who watched my videos, and Zac and Jay nicked mine and sent the plaque to [the same kid] saying, ‘Okay, send ours back,’ but he just said ‘No’. So, there’s this kid in Shanghai that just has two YouTuber’s plaques, just chilling.

He’s probably won the game there.

Oh he has, he’s had both of us, absolutely. We’re the ones with egg on our faces.

So, what’s your favourite video, that you’ve created on a personal level?

I loved the first drag video, when I turned into Rozee Cheekz for the first time. I just loved that day. In terms of the video I’m most proud of: the AVN Adult Entertainment Porn Expo. There’s just so many. The elderly giving me life advice [is another one].

I love that one. I love that you said [on that video] that you’d want to be Carol Vordeman on Countdown.

One hundred percent.

So would you ever consider TV if anyone asked you, or has anyone asked you?

Yes. I think that I love YouTube. YouTube is incredibly important, and it’s one of the most incredible platforms, but you definitely have a shelf-life on YouTube. Some people are doing incredibly well and stretching out to ten, even fifteen years (if you look at Jenna Marbles and PewDiePie). I think, in terms of looking at it as a lifespan, you have a very short shelf-life. As a result, I’ve started spanning out and doing loads of standup. I had an [Edinburgh] Fringe Show, ready to go, and 80 minutes of material…and doing gigging in London. I’ve recently signed to an agency that isn’t YouTube specific: they are a comedy and entertainment agency. So hopefully, slowly, I might be put up for different TV stuff. But working in TV is such a different beast.

I mean, [a video of you was on] Lorraine Kelly this morning.

I was on Lorraine!

A National Treasure loves you.

This is the one and only world exclusive after Lorraine.

I’m actually really interested to hear more about the Comedy side of things. What would be your goals, say by this time next year?

I set ridiculous goals for the next five years with my agent. One of those goals was to sell out the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which is a 2000-seater. If I win a major award, I’m going to get my agent’s initials tattooed on my body. So, we’ve really set the bar high, there [laughs]. But we’re talking only if it’s BAFTA, Oscar or [a] Tony, so that’s definitely not going to happen. In the next year, I’d love to do [Edinburgh] Fringe and just keep on gigging, keep on doing comedy, keep on pushing on what I’m comfortable with doing. Otherwise, you’re going to stay still, you’re going to stay stagnant, and it’s going to go nowhere.

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

What advice would Adult Max give to Younger Max?

That’s a really good question. Younger Max: I would have told him to focus on what he enjoyed more than what he thought he should be doing. I was very lucky that I had a very privileged upbringing. Being at a place like Harrow, you are very much told [to do] Economics, Business, Finance. I was going to work in the City [of London] for a long time. For a long period of my life, I thought, ‘Yeah that’s going to happen,’ and it wasn’t until I got to [university] when I started doing Drama society, when I thought actually there’s other things out there. So, I would have told him to focus on entertaining, which I loved doing when I was younger. Because then you’ve kind of got a head start on everybody else.

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