Digital Pioneers: Steven Lannum & Joey Gizzi

by | Mar 6, 2024

Uncover the journey of digital titans Steven Lannum and Joey Gizzi as they share their secrets to success, innovative content strategies, and collaborations with global icons in an exclusive interview with our features editor, Sofia Deus.

Unlocking the Digital Universe with Steven Lannum and Joey Gizzi: The Powerhouse Creators of AreYouKiddingTV

In the vast and ever-expanding landscape of digital content creation, few names resonate as profoundly as Steven Lannum and Joey Gizzi of AreYouKiddingTV. With a staggering reach that spans over 1 billion views on their YouTube channel alone, coupled with a combined following exceeding 10 million across TikTok and Instagram, this dynamic duo has cemented their status as titans in the digital realm. Their journey from crafting comedy sketches at Elon University to orchestrating collaborations with global icons like Ed Sheeran and Craig Robinson is nothing short of extraordinary.

Photographer: Cole Plichta Stylist: Claire Andrews

In an exclusive interview conducted by our esteemed features editor, Sofia Deus, we delve deep into the world of digital creation with none other than Steven Lannum and Joey Gizzi of AreYouKiddingTV. This powerhouse duo has captivated audiences worldwide with their unparalleled wit, creativity, and ability to seamlessly navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape. Join us as we uncover the secrets behind their rapid rise to prominence and gain insights into their innovative approach to content creation.

SD – Your journey from creating comedy videos at Elon University to collaborating with global brands and celebrities like Ed Sheeran and Craig Robinson is remarkable. What do you think has been the key factor behind your rapid rise in digital space? 

 J&S – We think a key factor has been consistency, as well as the fresh and original content style that we created. We’ve been able to keep expanding original ideas, while still maintaining our “sign” brand, which we believe has kept us relevant and on a consistent growth path in the digital space. 


SD – The transition from YouTube to TikTok seems to have played a pivotal role in expanding your audience. How do you navigate the different dynamics and audience expectations between these platforms? 

 J&S – When we started uploading shorter clips from our YouTube videos to TikTok, we realized that our content fits much better as short-form videos. We were able to grow our audience fast in 2020 once we started uploading these clips and then continued to make new content ever since. With YouTube, we’ve shifted to a fresh style of videos that have more depth and different overall storytelling to keep retention on longer videos, while separately uploading our shorter sign videos to TikTok/Instagram.  


SD – Your collaborations extend beyond entertainment to partnerships with major brands like Dr. Pepper and United Airlines. How do you ensure that your content maintains authenticity while integrating these partnerships seamlessly? 

 J&S – The wonderful thing about our sign format is that there are so many different challenges we can come up with. So, instead of just looking at the camera and telling our audience about a brand they should check out, we’re able to come up with concepts that integrate those brands into the videos, while also feeling more organic and keeping the viewer interested in watching to see what happens. 


SD – The concept of “Sign Guys” has become synonymous with your brand. How do you continually innovate and keep your content fresh while staying true to your core identity? 

 J&S – While we never have referred to ourselves as the “Sign Guys,” a few people have called us that. We are constantly trying to think of new ways we can change our content with something new and fresh, while also keeping our overall sign format. An example is when we made a video where we had someone give us their phone number for 24 hours. This was the first time we included content of us not standing silently in public, while still integrating the sign format to the challenge, and our audience overall appreciated the change and enjoyed the video. 


SD – With challenges becoming increasingly popular on social media, how do you decide on the next big challenge for your audience, especially considering the growing stakes? 

 J&S – We have a lot of ideas written down that we haven’t filmed yet, and are continually adding to this list, but we will also spend time brainstorming innovative ideas together and figuring out what we want to do next that will up the stakes. 


SD – From pranks and social experiments to challenges and collaborations, your content has evolved significantly over the years. How do you expect the ever-changing trends in digital content creation? 

 J&S – It’s hard to anticipate the changing trends in digital content creation, but we’re confident in our creativity and originality. So, as long as we continue to experiment with new content ideas, we believe we’ll continue to reach new audiences and keep all our content fresh. 


SD – The pandemic has reshaped the digital landscape. How did you adapt your content strategy during this time, and what lessons did you learn from the experience? 

 J&S – I t was during the pandemic when we decided to re-edit our older clips from YouTube and post them to TikTok as short-form content, so we’re happy we started to grow as the digital landscape began to shift. It was tricky to get back into filming videos during a time when human interaction was a bit taboo, but we took precautions and were able to grow our brand significantly during that time.  


SD – As individuals who initially went your separate ways after graduation, what brought you back together to pursue AreYouKiddingTV full-time, and how has your partnership evolved over the years? 

 J&S – When our videos started to take off on TikTok, we quickly realized there was potential to capitalize on this and get back into making videos. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot from each other and continue to do so, while gaining more confidence in our content strategy. 


SD – Collaborating with renowned artists like Maddie and Tae must have been an exciting experience. Can you share any memorable moments or insights gained from working with such talents? 

 J&S – We’ve enjoyed our experiences with all the people we’ve collaborated with. Each individual/group we’ve worked with has given us unique perspectives of the entertainment industry, and we hope to learn more from our upcoming collaborations. 


SD – Your collaborations span across various industries, from music to sports to entertainment. How do you approach each collaboration differently, and what criteria do you consider when selecting partners for your projects? 

 J&S – Our main focus when collaborating with someone is figuring out how we can make our audience appreciate the video the most. Whether it’s a musician, athlete or comedian, we want to come up with a challenge that relates to the individual(s) while also being exciting for the viewers watching the content. 

Photographer: Cole Plichta Stylist: Claire Andrews


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