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Comedian Colleen Ballinger bringing hit Internet character Miranda Sings to CCRI
March 14, 2013
Would you like to see an atrocious singer and dancer perform for an hour and a half? Before you answer with a strong “no,” consider the case of Miranda Sings, a satirical character comedian Colleen Ballinger created.
Miranda Sings is a satire of the trend of instant fame via YouTube and the many people who chase that dream through relentless online self-promotion. The Miranda character is a conceited, talentless, off-key singer who nonetheless believes wholeheartedly in her own greatness – and the need for as many people as possible to witness it. The result is a funny sendup of both the music world and Internet culture.
Ballinger will perform a special free show at the Community College of Rhode Island at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 22, in the newly renovated Bobby Hackett Theater at the Knight Campus, 400 East Ave., Warwick. The show is presented by the Charles Sullivan Fund for the Arts and Humanities in association with the Community College of Rhode Island Players.
CCRI Music Program Coordinator Audrey Kaiser – no stranger to real performances of show tunes – will accompany Ballinger/Miranda and some local performers.
The night before her performance, Ballinger will conduct a workshop for CCRI students and any interested members of the college community at 7 p.m. in the Bobby Hackett Theater. She will cover two topics: promoting yourself through social media and auditioning for musical theater.
Ballinger said her live act is “standup comedy routine meets cabaret” with singing, dancing and backstory on the Miranda character.
There are plenty of people interested in the fictional Miranda’s backstory, as the character seems to have struck a chord online. Ballinger’s YouTube channels have more than 40 million views and she has taken her show on the road in North America, Europe and Australia. She is a particular favorite among fans of musical theater.
Ironically, given her portrayal of a character hungry for fame, Ballinger said she never sought Internet stardom. “I didn’t have any intention of that happening,” she said. “I was just making little videos to make my friends laugh.”
After about a year, the Miranda video “Free Voice Lesson,” in which the singer gives patently awful advice, suddenly went viral online. “I woke up one morning and there were 70,000 views on the voice lesson video, and the night before it was just 100 or 200 views,” Ballinger said.
“I didn’t know what it meant … how it happened is still a mystery. I just think it got to the right person and that person sent it to their friends and so on.”
Ballinger moved to capitalize on her success, making several new videos every week and engaging in a self-taught social media marketing campaign. She reached out to other YouTube celebrities, including GloZell Green and Grace “Daily Grace” Helbig, for advice.
Today, performing as Miranda is Ballinger’s full-time job and she has been able to tour the world – realizing the dream of the fictional diva.
“I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I’m not blown away that this is my job and this is my life,” Ballinger said. “It’s really nuts that some silly videos have turned into a full-time job and a career. I never take it for granted, that’s for sure … because I never know when it’s going to end.”
As her fan base grows, most people have come to realize that they are watching a comedy performance, not an actual person. However, “Even though I’m very open about the fact that I play Miranda Sings and she’s a character, some people still don’t know,” Ballinger said.
In the beginning, Ballinger said she closely guarded the secret of her identity, refusing interviews and keeping her own name off the Internet to fuel the Miranda myth. Soon, though, she realized that her fans were interested in the person behind Miranda.
Now Ballinger operates a separate YouTube channel in which she goes behind the scenes of Miranda’s world and answers fan mail out of character. Fans can even find videos of Ballinger (a classically trained and legitimately talented singer) performing as herself.
Attendees of Ballinger’s CCRI show will see her musical chops used for laughs instead.
“I’ve never had someone come to the show and say that they didn’t have a good time,” she said.