By Rachel Belle
Warning: video contains profanity!
The YouTube video has gotten nearly 35 million clicks, and “The Honey Badger” has become a household name. He has a new book, an app and a TV show in the works. Oh, and he’ll be in Seattle on Friday! So who is the man who voices these silly videos? His name is Randall. Just Randall. No last name. Well, he has does have one but he prefers to keep that to himself, opting to take the Cher/Madonna route.
“I do actually have a last name but it’s so embarrassing I don’t want anyone to know it. I’ll be the Cher of the wildlife kingdom, I don’t care!”
This is the sort of interview you will want to listen to, not read. The man has so much color, so much character, and – truth time – I’m just not going to transcribe the whole thing! So you’ll want to click the link above to listen. There’s also a longer, 11 minute, interview here.
A struggling actor and playwright in New York, Randall decided to pack up his life four years ago and move to Los Angeles, hoping for a fresh start. That’s where the idea for the Honey Badger videos was born.
“It was sort of the brain child of my assistant. He had known that I always had this deep affinity and love for animals. He knew that I was interested in wildlife narration, so when he presented me with that video, it was just a no-brainer. I just didn’t know exactly how to get my feet wet.”
Randall says his father was a cameraman for the TV show Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and that’s where his love for animals, and fascination with narration, started.
“Basically, this all started because he would come home from long journeys with tons of footage without sound. We’d set up the projector and I’d just started narrating because I was used to watching Wild Kingdom, and I grew up with that, and I wanted to be the next Marlin Perkins. I really wanted to impress my father. Soon it became a thing in the family! We’d invite over friends and family, my papa would present this new footage, that he’d just shot out in the Kalahari or in Africa, and I would go on and on, and make things up, whatever I could, about these animals.”
He says the videos he makes are 80 percent improvised.
“There was a script with a bunch of fun facts, but it’s very hard to keep to that when you’re watching footage of a honey badger just demolish a cobra! I mean, it’s crazy! I don’t know how they expect narrators to just keep on course and read the script when all this crazy stuff is happening right before their eyes! So for me, I just decided that I’d be the type of wild life narrator who tells it like it is. I can’t sugar coat the nastiness and the craziness of nature. If something scares me, it scares me! I can’t say ‘Oh, this is just a part of it’s behavior and it acts this way.’ Hell no! It’s terrifying!”
Randall says his father died several years ago, before the Honey Badger phenomenon started, so he’ll never know his son’s success. He told me the story of his fathers death, which is one of the oddest and most unbelievable passings I’ve ever heard.
“It was a really weird death. He was out in the field and, this is going to sound so strange, he was filming an eagle. Some crazy bird basically swooped down and picked up a rabbit and, I swear to you, this bird dropped the rabbit from thousands of feet up in the air and it fell on my father and that’s how my father died. Very bizarre. He suffered major head trauma. My mother and I make the joke that at least he died with a full head of hare. I miss him and I really think he’d be so proud of me.”
You can meet Randall, and buy his new book, at Seattle’s University Bookstore, Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 7pm. FREE.