NORTH PALM BEACH – A child of the internet age, comic Cam Bertrand has never been a slave to Al Gore’s most dubious invention.
Ironically, internet video may be more responsible than any other marketing tool for the rapid rise of Bertrand’s comedy career.
While millions of American’s caught a taste of Bertrand’s comedy during his appearance on “America’s Got Talent,” the exposure the 28-year-old received from his internet-only Dry Bar Special far exceeds the TV audience.
“Those clips went crazy on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok,” Bertrand said. “They went everywhere.”
According to the metrics Bertrand’s seen, his Dry Bar special or clips from it have in the neighborhood of 100 million views. Even with standard exaggeration factored into the assessment, it’s still a staggering total.
“I figured out the internet,” Bertrand said, grinning. “That’s been pretty fun. I’ve been posting a bunch of clips and they’ve been doing well, so that’s interesting. I never thought I’d be an internet guy, but that shit is working.”
As a young comic Bertrand didn’t – and, truth be told, still doesn’t – have a great desire to share his work on the web.
Bertrand, the reigning Florida’s Funniest Comic title holder, always thought his comedy would play on the internet, but he craved a live audience.
“I don’t like the internet, man,” Bertrand said. “People are mean. I tried to stay away from it but now I have to [use it] because I’ve got to sell tickets.”
Unlike performing for a camera, climbing on stage and grabbing a microphone appeals to his humanity. Bertrand prefers man over machines, laughs over LOLs.
But reality is shifting.
“I chose stand-up because it’s done in a comedy club,” Bertrand said. “It’s done in a small room, in a basement. That’s where it’s real. But now the only way for it to be real is to record it and put it on-line.”
As he tells it, Bertrand first dipped his toe into the internet comedy pool out of spite.
Three years ago, when TikTok was first gaining an audience in the U.S., Bertrand saw a fellow Florida comic’s videos accumulate hundreds of thousands of views. That total seemed astronomical considering Bertrand didn’t find the comic to be all that funny.
“I was like, if he’s getting views, I’m going to get a billion views,” Bertrand said. I posted a bunch of clips and they did really well, and I ended up getting about 800,000 followers. And then I was like, welp, I’m done. I proved my point.”
Only recently did Bertand begin posting on TikTok again. The 28-year-old is approaching 1 million followers on the social media platform whose audience skews young.
Like many of those TikTok short form videos, life is moving quickly for Bertrand. He’s been on the road for much of the summer, headlining in Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. Bertrand also recently moved apartments, and prior to one mid-August show in South Florida Bertrand lamented the inadequacy of his earlier nap.
His quest for better sleep aside, Bertrand’s performance that night didn’t lack for energy. His stories, observations and jokes captivated a sold out audience of comedy fans, most of whom were twice his age. It’s unlikely many – if any – in the crowd first became acquainted with Bertrand’s comedy on the internet, but that goes against the current trend.
With upcoming performances in Wisconsin and Wyoming, more flights, drives and – potentially – naps are on Bertrand’s horizon.
Internet clips – most notably the Dry Bar special – not only helped Bertrand land those gigs but also aided sell tickets.
For the first time in his life, Bertrand has made his peace with internet comedy.
“I should have just did it when I was 14 (years old),” Bertrand said. “I should have just been doing the internet. You live and you learn.”