Episode 168

Hassan Khadair ·  Mickey Mouse Content Creator and Comedian Hassan Khadair

“Content creation right now and I hate to say is about quantity, not quality. So you find your medium between quantity and quality and find a cadence that works.”

Hassan Khadair is a 23-year-old comedian and content creator from Birmingham Alabama. He has over a decade of experience creating content on the internet from his start in daily vlogs to his viral Mickey Mouse impression content. He is currently the host of the Bad Days podcast as well as a creative director and host of Comicstorian.

Social media handles:

YouTube: @HassanKhadair

Instagram: @HassanKhadair

Twitter: @HassanKhadair

TikTok: @HassanKhadair

Listen to the podcast

Watch the interview

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Bryan Pham: Hey everyone. Welcome to our episode on the Asian Hustle Network podcast. Today, we have one of my favorite TikTok creators. Hassan is killing on the social media game. To be honest, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen or heard his voice on TikTok. So Hudson, welcome to the show. 

[00:00:15] Hassan Khadair: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

[00:00:17] I’ve heard many great things with the Asian Hustle Network, and I’ve seen enough clips of like creators that I’m obsessed with to be like, okay, if they hit me up, I have to be on this immediately. 

[00:00:26] Bryan Pham: So my goodness. Yeah. I’m so glad you were able to connect via TikTok. And I want to dive deep into your story.

[00:00:32] I want to hear about how you got into content creation. I have watched bits and pieces about you here and there. About how you started on YouTube, what is that? 10 years ago? 

[00:00:42] Hassan Khadair: Yeah, just about. 

[00:00:43] Bryan Pham:  Yeah. I want to dive deep into that and hear about your journey. 

[00:00:46] Hassan Khadair: Yeah. A decade ago, I was just a lonely kid, like everybody else in 2011.

[00:00:51] I didn’t have a lot of friends at school. I grew up in Southern Alabama. I was Asian, so I wasn’t playing youth group soccer after church on Sundays. I was at home, so I didn’t really get to connect with a lot of kids. But what I was doing was watching a ton of YouTube and there was Ryan Hagan, Kev Jumba, and those guys. I don’t want just to be a creepy fan that stocks them to become their friend. I want to be like a peer. So the only way to do that is to try and make these YouTube videos that I like watching so much. So I picked up my old iPod touch and I started filming YouTube videos and they were off the pill, rant videos like Ryan, or the occasional skit like Kevin. And I really leaned further to that.

[00:01:26] It was terrible. I couldn’t edit anything. Like me, I had no idea how to do it. And movie makers always crashed on me. It sucked. It was a terrible time to start YouTube for me. But throughout that process, I discovered I had an innate love of the creative aspect of it. And then when Vine came around, Vine was great.

[00:01:43] Because you didn’t have to edit, it was 6.5 seconds. So if you could be funny for six seconds and say it in one continuous line, you don’t have to come up with a really great editing gag. So I leaned into that for a few years. And then through Vine, I got a little bit more confidence and was also simultaneously doing YouTube.

[00:01:59] And when I hit my stride on Vine, I actually got voted most likely to be a famous YouTuber. My senior year of high school is like a senior year superlative. It’s goofy and stupid. I had to wear a little laminated paper, a piece of paper that said that I would most likely be a famous YouTuber or whatever. That day, Jake Paul was in my town and this was years ago.

[00:02:17] So it’s before any of his controversies. So I went to go film a couple of videos with Jake Paul as Mickey and did a bunch of things with him. And then that day they were like… By the way, Vine is ending. So we’re not going to carry this over. I think I hit 10,000 followers that day too, which was at the point the highest I’d ever gotten on social media.

[00:02:33] And I’ve been doing it for two years now. And it was over, but I was left with this level of peace. I had a lot of friends. I think at the time I had a girlfriend, I was just really content with what my life looked like. I don’t need to chase internet friends. I have plenty of real-life stuff going on.

[00:02:46] And then, you get dumped. Friends move. You go to a college that’s not like your cup of tea. You’re not really a good college student and you end up feeling a little bit empty. And in that emptiness, I remembered that my favorite thing was like working on something cool and funny. So I tried YouTube.

[00:03:02] And I did it a lot more sporadically over the years. I think I never really committed to being a YouTuber again because I’ve always had trouble with this part where I’m like talking directly to a camera. It’s so hard to like people who think you can grab a camera and hate something and talk about Cody Cohen and just be like, oh man, this thing’s so ridiculous.

[00:03:16] You’ll be hilarious. It’s really hard to be naturalistic in that tone. And it was, I was never my strong suit because I think I was always a lot nicer. I don’t think I had that legitimate edge to be on camera and to be disrespectful of something. But in a way that it’s 90% humorous. It felt like if I did it, it felt almost mean-spirited.

[00:03:33] It took me a while to really find my niche. TikTok rolled around. I was hanging out with some friends. One of my friend’s brothers decided he wanted to be a barber. So we just all hung out in his basement while he cut 30 people’s hair. And there’s a guy there who was just like, dude, you gotta go upload all your old Vines to this app called TikTok.

[00:03:50] I was like, Fuck. No, I will not do that. I’m not using TikTok. I didn’t use music back in the day. I’m not going to use TikTok. So obviously I went home and I downloaded TikTok, like immediately and I uploaded all my old Vines. Within 24 hours, I had 10,000 followers on TikTok and I uploaded like three or four videos.

[00:04:09] And then, within a week of that, I had 25,000 or within my first month, I had a hundred thousand. So I was like, okay, this is great. And I hadn’t even made a new piece of content. I really was just making what was true, like I was just uploading the classics. And then, I re-upped into my old mega series that used to be a really big part of what I did, where I just talked to strangers. Whether as me or as Mickey and just like riffs and do improve humor.

[00:04:30] And when I was Mickey, I had that edge where I could be as malicious and mean, and as like really lean fully into my humor. Into my improv without having to feel the backlash of ah, man, maybe I’m being insensitive or rude or disrespectful or anything like that. So that really gave me an edge and those videos did really well.

[00:04:45] And then, TikTok plateaued, TikTok hit a stride. I think I got up to a hundred seventy-five, hundred eighty-five thousand followers. And then, the pandemic year, and during that year, there was a lot of the black lives matter movement habit. There were a lot of things in the news that for me, as a young 20-something person who grew up watching Philip DeFranco videos and wanted to be the host of the daily show as a child, this felt like the time to talk about things that really mattered.

[00:05:09] So I took some time. I covered a lot of what was happening in downtown Birmingham. I live in Birmingham, Alabama. So we were a big part of the civil rights movement. So during the black lives matter movement, we were a big part of that. So I was literally down there the night that curfews were inflicted and then, half the downtown was destroyed and I was there firsthand.

[00:05:26] So I got to see the difference between a protester and a looter. And they were just not the same groups of people. They were just all around there and I discussed it on Tiktok. And Tiktok’s immediate reaction was, “I know a lot of people throw the term “shadow ban” out there.” They don’t know what it means and they think it’s like, “My video didn’t perform this week.” And that’s why ShadowBan was that at 180,000 followers, six people would see my videos for a year. No one saw it. And I just started making stuff for fun. I wasn’t the “pandemic took a lot out of me” emotionally, mentally. Like I had a lot of other familial stuff going on. So I wasn’t as engaged, in trying to be a content creator. I still had my funny idea on occasion and I would toss that up there. I was streaming with a couple of YouTubers that were really good friends of mine. They were the sugar pine seven boys, and we were playing Fortnite every day and we were streaming that.

[00:06:10] So I developed a little bit of an online personality in the streaming space, but nothing to brag about, but it was fun. I had a small community that I really loved and really appreciated. And I went and took a trip to LA just to see some friends. And one of them had moved from Birmingham and he is a Tiktoker. 

[00:06:25] So he pulled me into this Tik Tok meet-up thing. And my hack, my hair brain, just ridiculous tinfoil hat theory is that when a bunch of verified Tiktokers followed me, it was that week that all of a sudden my TikTok account was getting views again. It was getting seen by other people. So I’d theorized that at the time of TikTok, the more followers you had if you were verified, your likes and your comments used to hold more weight. You could almost make someone’s video go viral. So I thought maybe this is like unlocking my account and I’m off the shadow band track. So I had fun in LA.

[00:06:56] I came back, I started making random videos, but I re-upped the Omega series. All I was really doing was remastering my old videos. I was putting captions and censoring cuss words, and then I started to film new stuff. And I hit a stride I’d never seen before. I’d gone from losing 10,000 followers over the course of the year because I wasn’t able to grow anymore to gaining nearly 500,000 in a week, which is crazy.

[00:07:21] It was crazy. It was a really fun time that was December of 2020, and we were writing this incredible wave of creativity and people were going on omega.com just to find me because that series had become viral. Everyone on TikTok was then making Omega videos because the videos got hundreds of millions of views.

[00:07:37] And when January and February rolled around, TikTok took a clear stance that they didn’t really want Omega videos on their platform anymore. So anyone who’s making Omega content plateaued again. So I took another two months where I wasn’t really growing anymore and I was, you know, the TikTok in December that seemed like it could be my full-time job.

[00:07:54] Like I could leave real estate and go do that. And then it wasn’t the track. And in March I think, yeah March 3rd, 2021 I bought the puppet priors so that I could make the Omega videos more animated. And there was this guy on TikTok, Donald Ducc with two C’s. He was just doing it very generically. Let me just make an impression and point out what I’m looking at.

[00:08:13] It’s just if I’m Donald Duck reacting to you and be like, oh boy, look, he’s got a neon light behind him and a microphone. It’s not funny. It’s just observant. And it has an impression on it. I was like, I can probably do better. I could just make this really funny. So I started to react to videos like Mickey.

[00:08:27] It just exploded. It was an incredible thing. And it took me from that 500,000 to the end of the month, I was at a million and I kept growing and I plateaued. It was like two weeks where I wasn’t growing at a rapid pace. I was only gaining 10,000 followers a week, plateaued my ass. I know I should be so grateful for that time period.

[00:08:43] And then I came out with this video where I reacted to a guy putting his shoes into the dirt and he had the waterproof ceiling on it. So he splashed water and disappeared. And I just yelled at Mickey for doing that. And that video got like a hundred million views. That video completely changed the narrative because then all of my videos for the next two months were performed.

[00:09:01] I would upload eight videos a day, every day because I believe that cadence was the one that worked best on TikTok. I would do that. And then from the hours of 11:30 PM to 3:30 AM, I would live stream every night because TikTok had just released Dual Lives and I was going to gamify that system.

[00:09:16] And it worked really well. If in that period of time, while I was asleep, I would gain 5,000 followers. If I was streaming, I would gain 25,000. So I was like, okay, this is genius. I’m going to keep doing this. And I loved it. I was loving every second of it. I felt more creative than I’d ever felt before I was gaining followers like crazy.

[00:09:30] By the end of June, I had 3 million. By the end of July, I had 5 million followers and it was an incredible moment. And then TikTok dropped the ban hammer. They decided that they were going to change their content moderation policies. At the same time, increase their punishments without increasing their creator’s support to appeal those punishments and those problems.

[00:09:50] So I would get random videos were taken down and then I’d get a one-week posting band. Then that one week would turn into a month. And then eventually they started to delete my account where I’d have an account one day and 5.3 million followers. Then I wouldn’t even exist on the platform the next day.

[00:10:04] And it would take me months and weeks of petitioning and campaigning and complaining about other social media platforms for someone to catch the wind and then restore my account. But it was always a glitch. They always deleted my account unintentionally. So it left me in a really scoring position because I was well on my way. I think at my peak, people didn’t make a lot of money on the TikTok creator fund. I don’t make a lot of money in brand deals because I’m using a licensed character and I cussed out my videos. But I managed to make the creator fund work. I was making, like at my peak, almost 7.5 grand a month on the creator fund, which we now pay pennies on the dollar on any other platform.

[00:10:36] And I would’ve made tens of thousands of dollars. But then, you know, they deleted my account. So I hemorrhaged a lot of followers. And then every time I came back, it was a posting ban and it was always a violation. The glitch we found out later was that every time you got a violation, whether they restored it or not, to this day, it sits on your account as a violation.

[00:10:55] So the TikTok system’s broken not to turn this into a complaining thing. But it left me in a really vulnerable state. At the same time, I was uploading all my videos onto YouTube shorts because YouTube has always been the tried and true platform. And I knew I was going to go back to YouTube when I had enough watch hours to monetize it because I didn’t want to make YouTube content and not get paid for it.

[00:11:11] So as soon as I had the watch hours that were required, I started to post long-form Omega videos on YouTube and then just a bunch of shorts. Every time I had anything made on TikTok, it would go up on YouTube. And YouTube hit its stride in August, and July the same time TikTok was deleting my account.

[00:11:25] I had my stride on YouTube in a month. I went from 5,000 to a hundred thousand subscribers on YouTube, which is incredible because that’s far bigger of an accomplishment than gaining a hundred thousand followers on TikTok. The weight of those followers is really different and I slowly continuously grew there.

[00:11:40] So TikTok became less of a priority because I was able to make more than I could have imagined on YouTube. And YouTube became my full source of income. I left my full-time job. I became a full-time creator and it was incredible. And I’ve definitely had a great time with YouTube into 2021.

[00:11:54] Into 22, not as much. I haven’t really grown as much and the algorithms haven’t smiled upon me the same way, but it’s still capable of making a living. And I’ve really grown on Instagram. And while Instagram, we all know, it does not pay out Adam Asari while he loves his little talks and gives his NFTs.

[00:12:09] He hasn’t really figured out the creator economy into paying creators properly. But I’ve been supplementing my income using that. And I finally have a good management team working on brand deals and stuff for me. So that’s what I’m working on now. I’ve been back on TikTok. My numbers on TikTok have never been better. At the same time, they banned me from the creator fund. So I did the math for the last three months. Alone on views, I lost out on about $11,000 which once again, that’s crazy. As far as views are concerned, it’s so hard for creators to make money on TikTok. But they banned me from the creator fund. Then I appealed it and then they never answered my appeal.

[00:12:42] So if anybody knows anybody at TikTok, let me slide on my name and say, Hey, he spoke it. YouTube’s AAPI event. Maybe we would let him just be part of our AAPI community. Because I’ve emailed so many people and I’ve never even gotten into the Asian creator community on TikTok. It was actually astounding that I got into it on YouTube.

[00:12:59] And then team YouTube’s been incredible. The Shorts creator community, I’ve been a huge part of that since it began. I’ve been a speaker for them multiple times. Both virtually and then in New York City at the galaxy creator collective as well as most recently in New York City speaking at the Asian creator event.

[00:13:14] Just getting a talk on that panel. So YouTube has welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like the creator I’ve always wanted to be. TikTok has continued to give me that little chip on my shoulder, or I’m always trying to prove something to somebody. So that’s more or less my story.

[00:13:26] I think we’re all caught up on that. 

[00:13:28] Bryan Pham: Dude, that’s quite an amazing story. Congratulations! All your successes by the way! 

[00:13:32] Hassan Khadair: Thank you. I appreciate it.

[00:13:33] Bryan Pham: I think I was with you around that time, following you when you were banned from TikTok. And I saw the screenshots on your IG stories. I saw everything.

[00:13:40] And to be honest, like I was following you along when your YouTube was pulling up, right? 

[00:13:44] Hassan Khadair: Yeah. 

[00:13:45] Bryan Pham: Because I remember clicking on your YouTube profile from your TikTok and noticing that. I want to say at the time, it was like 56,000 fault subscribers, and all of a sudden, I noticed your TikTok started going crazy.

[00:13:57] And people were starting to catch onto the Mickey mouse theme, as well. Because you called me crazy, but I was looking through all your old videos too, wondering because, for me, I’m always studying as well. Like I’m always, I like the social media discovery game where you’ve tried to figure out the algorithm, trying to see what works, and what doesn’t work.

[00:14:12] So I was looking through all your stuff to see, like when did you blow up? And, I’ll give you a lot of credit too, because that’s when I stumble upon more about yourself. Even before we were introduced by Drex Lee, shout out to Drex Lee, you were one of the creators that I had fallen a lot and I loved your humor.

[00:14:26] I think I was there. I think you’re right. One of the first videos I saw that was very memorable is the white shoes that you were screaming about. And I was there when you made a couple of other funny videos on Instagram as well. So shout out, give yourself a lot of credit. I also follow your stories too.

[00:14:41] So I noticed that you’ve been very involved with YouTube content creators. Sounds weird, but I also knew that you’re also in Alabama. You’re going through social media as well. 

[00:14:49] Hassan Khadair: Hey, no, I love an observant person. I appreciate that. I feel like I always get questions of ‘Hey are you going to be at Disneyland today?’And it’s no, dude, I’ve been there like three times. I just filmed a lot when I was there. So I made it look like I’m there all the time. 

[00:15:01] Bryan Pham: Yeah. 

[00:15:01] Hassan Khadair: But it’s nice to know when somebody knows I’m from an old Alabama boy. I’m not, nothing’s changing any time soon for me. 

[00:15:06] Bryan Pham: I’m curious. I know we mentioned earlier that you’re not feeling right now. Do you have your Mickey mouse character next to you? 

[00:15:11] Hassan Khadair: Not next to me. I think he’s actually in my car, but this closet is full of puppets. So I have one of the replacement ones held on the rabbit. 

[00:15:18] Bryan Pham: And for our listeners, he’s going to grab one of his Mickey Mouse right now. You can also check this out on YouTube.

[00:15:25] It’s going to be in video form as well. That’s pretty cool because he has his Mickey mouse character, but not a lot of people know that I have an Elmo character as well. 

[00:15:35] Hassan Khadair: You have an Elmo character? 

[00:15:36] Bryan Pham: Cool. Quick. One second. 

[00:15:39] Hassan Khadair: Terrifying. I love Elmo. 

[00:15:41] Hassan Khadair: Yeah. So this puppet. They discontinued it. So the reason my closet is full of puppets, I bought all the ones that were left, because I was like, I might need a replacement.

[00:15:51] I never use any of these because they’re so rigid and mine is so worn in that I could do like funnier expressions, but I still have all of these just in my closet. I never once in my life wanted to be a puppeteer. I hate puppets if I’m being. But it was the best avenue to improv comedy and put a spin on something that is so iconic.

[00:16:09] There’s now a generation of people that think of me as Mickey Mouse before they think of anything the Walt Disney Company has done recently. I’ve been more prominently Mickey and pop culture. So there’s definitely a level of somebody who’s a lifetime fan and grew up enjoying it to have your own relationship with the character. That’s really good. 

[00:16:27] Bryan Pham: Definitely. I’m going to have to ask you a legal question. Has Disney ever gone after you? 

[00:16:31] Hassan Khadair: No, we’re in a spot where Disney and I were great. We’re not going to work together on anything, anytime soon or not with Mickey. I think me and Disney might do some PR stuff in the future, but yeah, they’re not angry about it.

[00:16:42] I think most of the people who work on the PR teams and that I’ve been able to talk to love the stuff and they don’t think I’m going to get taken down because it does fall so heavily into parody like you couldn’t make a case that it’s not parodying content. So how could you possibly take that down?

[00:16:58] And it’s, I don’t monetize the likeness. I’m not selling the puppet. I’m not selling merch of the puppet, but Disney in 2024, when your copyright is up, you can bench your ass. I’ll do that, absolutely seconds later. You’re going to get my version of the puppet for sale. But until then, I do a good job of respecting the boundaries of what they are okay with.

[00:17:15] And they’re really cool with me. I’d never thought I’d be in a position where. I have the mouse in a stalemate, but they know that the backlash of them taking down my account would be everybody coming down their throats for free speech and parody and all this stuff.

[00:17:29] And they don’t want that. Currently, I think on TikTok right now there’s this lightning McQueen guy who had a car that’s designed like lightning McQueen the character and he got a cease and desist from Disney, I don’t know. I don’t know the guy. I can’t speak to anything.

[00:17:41] I think it’s a fake story because I don’t think Disney is dumb enough to do that. Because it’s just such an instant like it’s the internet versus Disney and they love that stuff. And if that would only make me more famous, hell if Disney wants to come after me, fine by me. If you guys haven’t noticed, I’m not trying to face Mickey out, but I’m definitely facing myself in all the content a lot more.

[00:18:00] So hey, if I have to forcefully not make Mickey mouse videos anymore, I’m not going to be too upset about it. 

[00:18:05] Bryan Pham: Yeah. I mean that’s a really good point. And I hope everything’s going to be okay. I feel like if anything, like you, ‘re making Mickey mouse more prominent in today’s world, right?

[00:18:13] You’re giving him a personality. You’re still basically using the same voice. The iconic laugh, the high-pitched voice, the high-pitched tone. 

[00:18:19] Hassan Khadair: Yeah! I tried, and I did a good job. I think it was well into the first month of me doing the reaction videos. I decided that I was no longer going to do a pitch and tone accurate Mickey.

[00:18:28] I’m a really capable voice actor. So I was doing exactly what I heard on screen. I was replicating that voice and I decided to raise the pitch and speed up the voice so I could react to things faster. And so that the voice had its own iconic and resonance. And that was a tough choice because when I was a lot younger when I was doing the occasional Mickey video on Vine, I took a lot of pride in being so pitch and tone accurate.

[00:18:49] It was like my favorite thing of looking at my perfect Mickey voice better than most people. But I have a lot more fun with, “let me create my own version of stuff for now”. 

[00:18:57] Bryan Pham: Yeah, especially the parts where you have Mickey talk in a British accent. 

[00:19:03] Hassan Khadair: That just happened because I couldn’t maintain the voice because I was sick so I just went from a Mickey mouse voice. That was weak to my own voice with a shitty British accent. And then I looked like the week before I found out that Mickey’s middle name was Theodore. And I was like, why did no one ever talk about that? And I just called him Michael Theodore mouse. People went crazy for it. 

[00:19:22] Bryan Pham: Yeah. I wish you were feeling a lot better today because I’ll be asking for that impression, but we can always ask another.

[00:19:26] Hassan Khadair: Oh my gosh. 

[00:19:28] Yes. Hopefully, it’s warming up. I definitely just apologize to everybody listening. If you want to hear the Mickey stuff, I am just. I’ve not been this sick in so long. It’s not COVID thankfully, it sucks. 

[00:19:39] Alright, I would ask you a couple of other questions, right? I’m curious to hear what’s next for you, right? How are you taking this to the next level? I mean a lot of content creators I meet on TikTok. How aspirations to be actors, and actresses in Hollywood start with different Marvel films.

[00:19:55] What is your goal? Do you want to be a set medium? 

[00:19:57] Hassan Khadair: Yeah! 

[00:19:57] Bryan Pham: Do you want to continue doing what you do? What is the goal that you have? 

[00:20:00] Hassan Khadair: Unlike most Tiktokers and most old-school YouTubers, I’m not looking to throw away what I’ve accomplished to try and succeed and do medium. So I’m definitely going to end up like I am a standup comedian now, and I loved doing that.

[00:20:11] And I think that is funnier and better than anything I do on the internet. That said, I’m not planning on doing less stuff on the internet. I’m planning on doing more. The Mickey content is going to continue to stay the course. We’re obviously hoping, a pendulum swings back my way eventually, but we’re holding on to hope.

[00:20:25] There are always ebbs and flows and content creation. It’s always been that way so we’re focused on that. The bad days’ podcast is, “It’s my brand, my narrative.” It’s about how your bad days are your best stories. So we’ve been leaning into that more and more because it’s a good avenue for me to have improvisational comedy conversations with friends, as well as other creators, and work on personal standup. I’ve been adding myself to more and more content to make me a resident character in the story. Because I think my YouTube fan base has it unlocked that like Mickey is a puppet and Huss, the guy Tiktok on the other hand, it’s like “where’s Mickey?”, I’ll post a video that gets a million views that’s like a bad days video, just like a podcast clip or something like that, but they will just not shut up. They’re just like “Mickey me”, I think they’re kids. I don’t know. But I definitely get really frustrated about that.

[00:21:08] So fighting a happy medium, my brand manager’s been really adamant that “Hey, I love Mickey, and we love the audience you’ve grown, but you kept your username, Hassan Khadair.” Unlike the Donald Duck guy whose username is Donald Duck, with two seasons out of a “K”. You have your own brand residence that exists outside of it. You’ve done so much like a public speaker as a creator.

[00:21:28] Don’t completely box yourself in. So trying to take me out of the box and continue to succeed. I think most recently my most successful videos on Instagram have actually been hustling videos and not Mickey videos. So finding that balance, but I also take a lot more pride in videos that are purely me and not Mickey.

[00:21:44] It’s harder to put those out when it’s like Mickey, I’m like, I can film eight in an hour, but when it’s Hassan it’s I care a little bit more. It has to be an amusing idea for me to want to do it. Finding a balance, getting better at that, doing more standup comedy for sure.

[00:21:56] But at no point, leaving YouTube behind. I think Lily Singh got a TV show not long ago. And I know somebody on her team and the money that she made on the TV show was one-tenth what she would have made in brand deals that year. And it didn’t improve her chances of becoming a late-night star later like it didn’t go over. It wasn’t really critically acclaimed and no hate for Lily singing or anything like that. But a lot of YouTubers, Tyler Oakley became little Ellen Degen on his thing. So you see a lot of YouTubers coming and fading rather than being resonant on their own platforms, which the platform itself is becoming more mainstream, but they’re trying to jump to a ship that’s actually becoming less mainstream.

[00:22:34] Making smarter decisions than them, I’ve been a creator for a decade. So I’ve seen your Ryan Higa’s, who just twitched streamed for fun and isn’t trying to be relevant anymore. All the way down to your Shane Dawson, who will clot, whatever they can to get back into the spotlight for 10 minutes and then fade back into obscurity.

[00:22:49] So finding a medium of what makes the most sense for me in my life.

[00:22:53] Bryan Pham: Yeah, that’s a really deep, clear perspective of what you have with what you want to do. And I think that to be honest, actually sounds like it breaks you from a lot of concentrators we have in podcasting. It’s very clear what you want to do.

[00:23:03] And so I do commend you for that. And I’m curious too. I want to hear more about your creative process and more importantly, your mental health. Because we know that… 

[00:23:11] Hassan Khadair: Yeah! Mental health.

[00:23:12] Bryan Pham: Concentration is hard. You have to think about it all the time. You have to be obsessed in some way, you have to consume a lot of content all the time. How do you manage that? And tell yourself, “Hey, like I need a break. It’s okay to take a break. And I need to like, let go and do nothing.” Go ahead.

[00:23:27] Hassan Khadair: It’s definitely something I’ve been struggling with a lot more recently. I’ve always been a big mental health advocate.

[00:23:32] I’ve been going to therapy once to twice a week, every day for almost two years now. Almost two and a half years, and I love it. I love my therapist and I’ve made a lot of progress as a person when it comes to concentration. It’s really hard because I create a process-wise. If I’m in good head space and I’m relaxed and I find the videos I want to react to, or I have the ideas in my brain, I could film like 40 videos in less than an hour.

[00:23:54] It’s all one takes, it’s all comedic improvement. So I don’t have to prepare a joke. In fact, if I do think I need to prepare a joke, I won’t make the video because if I had to do more than one take, it’s not funny. It’s a big philosophy of mine. So I was really good at it for a really long time. And I was killing it because on YouTube, the income was only going up.

[00:24:10] And then after December happened, I took three weeks off in January. From long-form, not from the short form, just from long because I was sick. It was actually the first time I’d been six in years and I was feeling miserable. I didn’t want to live stream and come up with Mickey reacting to whatever.

[00:24:25] I thought I could take those three weeks off, but my algorithms suffered pretty severely after that. I went from never having a video from when I was at 10,000 subs to now below a hundred thousand long-form views. I, to this day, haven’t broken a hundred thousand since January. Those three weeks off took me out of the algorithm and it really hurt my creative process in my career.

[00:24:46] And that was really harmful. I’ve been still working hard at it, I have a really aware support system, that is just always on point with how I’m feeling about all of this when I’m depressed. And when bouts of depression come, because they come really often in this career track, it’s really lonely.

[00:25:01] A lot of people have ideas to fix it. Hey, just stop doing Mickey and just be Hussain. If I could do that, I would’ve done that forever ago, but I created an audience that wants something like, how dare I not give them the thing that they want. I can give them more. But then it’s like when you come to the aspect of the more, it’s like, how much more can your body physically handle?

[00:25:18] And it’s when these algorithms aren’t smiling upon you, like on Instagram or YouTube, my views have never been lower. On Instagram, my views have never been higher. It’s not the content itself. I think it should have gotten stale forever ago, but, Hey, people still want Mickey videos.

[00:25:31] It hasn’t reached its maximum saturation. So you’re seeing hundreds of millions of views on Instagram now. And you’re not even remotely cracking that on YouTube for the first time ever. I’m getting more Instagram views and YouTube views so it’s been a really big balancing act.

[00:25:45] And I don’t know if I have the answer yet as to how to really handle that and how to stay centered. I talk about it a lot in therapy and I make sure that my support system is keenly aware of how to support me through it and how to be there for me. And more recently, I’ve invested in an assistant, which has been a big Godsent, because I’ve been able to just cut out all of the busy work.

[00:26:06] I’m only doing the creation itself now, and then I’m working on the new channels because I think that’s more my strong suit than… I’m so sorry to be all sick and stuffed up while we have this talk. But yeah, I’ve been able to be more creative. I think most recently, like the videos that I posted yesterday and the day before on TikTok, all did so much better in the view department than anything has in a long time.

[00:26:28] And it’s because I’m creating from a much more relaxed position. And I think I’m able to find those jokes a lot better when I’m comfortable. Trying to get comfortable again is what my goal is, and really helping those algorithms swing one way. I have some secret projects in the work, as far as I can see, gamifying the algorithm on a couple of brand new channels and they’ve been progressing really well.

[00:26:47] The main issue right now is that my content’s no longer served on the Shorts shelf, so it’s not being seen by anywhere near as many people as the Shorts algorithm. I still have my favorite daily viewers so that’s how I’m keeping afloat. And I discovered that a lot of my fellow content creators that I’ve helped make the transition.

[00:27:01] I created the TikTok band victims chat when TikTok did what it did. And I’ve helped a lot of YouTubers or creators transition from creating Tiktokers who only have that as an early stream of income, to Instagram users, to YouTube creators. It’s been amazing because a lot of them have really thriving careers, but I noticed the pendulum swung towards newer accounts.

[00:27:18] We’re currently messing with a brand new account. That’s uploading the same content, even the older videos that content to see if we can gamify the algorithm on a new channel to get the content to be resurfaced. And so far it’s been going really well. So mental health therapy is important, having people in your life that are really aware of everything going on with you at all times, that’s really important.

[00:27:37] Just taking time daily like I make sure to work out every day for an hour. Anytime I don’t work out, I feel worse than if I hadn’t, and it doesn’t have to be an extraneous workout. I don’t have to pump by Aaron for three hours straight, but just an hour of being outside and going on a walk or an hour of being in the gym. We’ll do wonders for your mental health and your exertion because this is a very lonely stressful career.

[00:27:58] Bryan Pham: Man. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I know it’s not easy to put that all in the open for us to hear it, but I feel like it’s a lot of things that we go through as content creators, as entrepreneurs, as people hustling all the time, right? It’s the hustle mentality and the hustling culture is so real.

[00:28:16] It’s oh, if I stop, I’m going to fall behind. If I do this, I’m going to stop, I fall behind. Sometimes you do need to pause and reflect because that’s the only way you realize if something’s going wrong, right? You don’t want to be in a position where it’s too late. I’m really down this rabbit hole where I don’t have my support system.

[00:28:31] I’m not honest with myself. I’m not taking the proper measurements to be healthy and you are right. Depression in this field is very common, right? Sometimes you always see now, unfortunately, you do see pretty often your favorite concept creators, ending themselves. And that’s so sad because I can totally be prevented, just by talking about it and having the proper support system around them. So thank you so much for sharing that. I know that, you’re in your early twenties, right? So there’s definitely that I have unlimited energy, and have all the time I’m going to conquer the world type mentality.

[00:29:00] And I really appreciate that too, but I do want to take a step back and talk about your life before content creation. I know you mentioned that you used to have a full-time job. I want to hear more about what you studied back in college and how that played into the person that you are today. 

[00:29:15] Hassan Khadair: Yeah, so I went to UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, for one semester. During that semester, I was a social media marketing major, but I was struggling a lot at that time period.

[00:29:27] All my friends had moved to various parts of Alabama and the country. I lived in my hometown and I was commuting from my parents’ house to college. At the same time, I had friends that were the year below me in high school. They were like a lot of my best friends. My ex-girlfriend, like all of them, was there.

[00:29:41] They weren’t hanging out with me anymore because I was a weird college kid and I was no longer one of their friends. Even though I was the same distance away, I’d always been. So it was one of the loneliest times of my life. And I think I’d never felt worse than I felt during that time period.

[00:29:55] I was constantly chasing after affirmation from others and because of a lot of that and that depression-like I just didn’t do well in college. I did well, I think I got great grades, but I had no ambition to continue. I didn’t study for anything. I winged it. I don’t know how I got A’s and B’s, but I did. I have an Asian mentality I’m used to. If you pay any amount of attention at school, you can get a decent grade. But I knew that wasn’t going to last forever and I wasn’t financially capable of continuing to go to college too. So I dropped it and I took my 60-hour real estate license course, and I became a realtor. And I did that for the remainder of my time until I became a content creator.

[00:30:27] Still engaging the skills I’d learned by being an on-camera person, like being capable of talking to people, connecting, and using that in real estate. It was fun. It was a fun time. It was a good career track, but it was never my passion. So when I realized I could do this full time and this is the only thing that I do. It wasn’t a question of whether I should or not.

[00:30:46] It was just an instant, go straight ahead.

[00:30:48] Bryan Pham: Yeah, it’s good for us to hear your background story too. I think that’s a little bit unclear on social media, but thanks for sharing that! 

[00:30:54] Hassan Khadair: I’ve been pretty adamant over the years. I feel like during that time period of being depressed and having your friends like they’re going to college they’re in sororities and fraternities and they’re at parties.

[00:31:04] They’re meeting new people. They have all these new friends. Social media became this really big toxic pit of always feeling inferior to the people around you. Perpetually trying to put on an image on social media as “Hey, look at me, look, I have this and I have that”. I’ve become a lot more private while I am a public person.

[00:31:21] What’s public is specifically what I’ve decided to be public rather than everything about my life, like my relationship status is not for public consumption, like things like that. I try to keep most of my life as private as possible, just for the sake of maybe we’ll toy around with the idea of it later. But at this point in life, I have nothing to prove.

[00:31:37] I think if I wasn’t a content creator, I wouldn’t be a social media user. I think I’d probably watch videos on TikTok and YouTube. And that would be my limit. I think apps like Instagram, I don’t really care what Todd and his new wife are doing from high school like that doesn’t matter to me.

[00:31:52] A lot of it ends up being like really grandstanding of, “Hey, look at me. I still matter. And I’m still relevant.” But you reach a certain point where so many of these people bowed out of my life during that terrible, like freshman year of the college time period. I had my face on a billboard in Times Square a week ago and the number of people that were flooding my DM’s, I didn’t even read them because I was like, okay, here we go. It’s the usual thing. So I feel a lot more comfortable with keeping my private life off of social media, but I’m always down to discussing things that matter like that. 

[00:32:20] Bryan Pham: Yeah.

[00:32:20] I do agree. I feel like a lot of times social media is a highlight reel in most people’s lives. Don’t post bad things. But I’m so glad that you’re using it strategically to build your online personality, build your dreams, and put yourself in stronger financial situations.

[00:32:34] That’s why I think social media is extremely powerful. 

[00:32:37] You could do that. But if you use the wrong hands, the raw mentality, it’s always a way for us to compare ourselves to other people. And honestly, our lives are so different from each other. It’s never, Apple’s comparison. Like everyone’s going through their own thing, their own demons, their own struggles, that you just have to figure out on your own. So I’m really glad that you’re absolutely making that clear for all of us to hear. So thank you. 

[00:32:58] Hassan Khadair: Yeah, of course. No, I think the comparison game and content creation are really dangerous because I have, I think 8 million followers across social media.

[00:33:06] I have a friend who’s incredible in every way. She’s got 1.4 across everything. She’s a fashion creator. She easily makes 10 to 20 times more than me a month, because she’s a brand deal. She’s super brandable. But when you’re playing that game of comparisons and if it’s coming from a toxic point for me, I’m like, oh my God, go off queen.

[00:33:23] I love you. I’m so happy. You’re killing it. How can I help you in the view department? So you can also make equally as much as me in that department because you can’t really help me with brand deals. Nobody can, it sucks. Like how can I be of service and whatever but a lot of creators will get caught up on that.

[00:33:36] I do know that at my size if it wasn’t Mickey Mouse, I would easily be a multimillionaire by now. That’s not even in question like I haven’t got to a single long-form deal on YouTube, but at one point I was pulling millions of views a month on long-form. We know how much long-form YouTubers have paid in the past.

[00:33:51] So comparison games are dangerous. It’s not one that I tend to play. I’m really transparent and open when it comes to dollar amounts and monies. And when it comes to talking to creators, I’ll tell you how much I’ve made to the decimal point because it craters, we’re coworkers. We’re not trying to compete with each other? I think that was a very old-guard YouTuber thing where they were like, don’t tell somebody what your ad sense payment is this month, don’t share what your brand deal was like, try and get more from the company without talking to others.

[00:34:14] And now, I’ve really worked hard at my little corner of the creator community, through YouTube Shorts at TikTok band. Victim chat, the influence that I’ve had, where I’m like, guys, we should share. Don’t feel uncomfortable, or intimidated whether you made a hundred bucks or $10,000. Like, talk about it because it’s going to help all of us make more money in the long term.

[00:34:31] If we’re aware of the prices, we’re not going to get screwed over in the brand deal. So I’ve read a lot of conversations. Let’s all talk about it. So we’re not comparing each other in this really toxic, oh, man, this person gets to do this and this person gets to do that. There are scenes on the internet right now, like the comic book, TikTok that all those people do 24/7. I’ve talked to so many of them and they’re sitting there comparing themselves to each other and they’re all friends, but they hate each other.

[00:34:53] It’s a very toxic environment and it’s one that I’ve never been a fan of. And I’ve never really attempted to do it in words. I think the best comparisons are like me and my friend, Twice Shorts. We had close to the same subscribers a couple of months back and we were neck and neck. We were just like one week Twice would be ahead.

[00:35:08] The next week I would be ahead and then I completely fell off and Twice at 2 million and he’s killing it. I’m so proud of it. I think he actually might be at 3 million now, which is crazy because it’s only been a couple of months, but he’s an incredible creator. But those are like the only competitions or like real competitive edges you ever get to comparing yourself to anybody in your field or anywhere else.

[00:35:24] It’s just if it’s not for fun, it’s not, don’t do it. 

[00:35:26] Bryan Pham: Yeah, absolutely man. So at the end of the podcast, I have one final question for you. And that question is, what advice do you have for a content creator? That’s just getting started today, right? As we know, talk and all these other platforms are getting more and more saturated.

[00:35:43] How do we stand out if we’re starting today? 

[00:35:45] Hassan Khadair: You stand out by being a great content consumer. To be a great creator, you have to be a great consumer and you make stuff every day, whether it is the thing you’re going to make for the next 10 years or the thing you’re going to make for tomorrow. And then never again, you have to keep creating content to find something that works.

[00:36:01] The internet is this rapidly moving place, right? Like Mickey, the video should have gotten stale by now, but because of the size and scope of it, here, they are getting hundreds of millions of views a year after they’ve been made every day. Think about the volume of that. So keeping in mind, like constantly watching. Every time you’re seeing a YouTuber really follow at a touch or come up with some trash content, it’s because they’re not watching content anymore. They think they’re above it. So don’t feel above it. The cultural zeitgeist is Tik Tok right now. Resonating with what’s going viral on TikTok, understanding what young people care about. I’m 23 and I’ve definitely aged out of what the mainstream likes and what people are going after.

[00:36:35] They’re going after the eighteen, the seventeen. I don’t have as much resonance with that culture, but I understand it so I can craft content geared towards it. Doing that and just, you have to find a cadence that’s comfortable. Content creation right now is about, I hate to say it, it’s about quantity, not quality.

[00:36:51] So you find your medium between quantity and quality. You find a cadence that works. In the Mickey videos, the reaction used to be far more involved. They used to have the camera shakes and captions and they were way more heavily edited than they are now, but it was cuz how much can I strip away from this while still maintaining its integrity and its sense of humor.

[00:37:10] And it’s still the same product. I did that until it was at a comfortable position. So finding your posting cadence. You’re not a Tiktoker. You’re not a YouTuber. You’re not an Instagrammer. You’re a content creator. Your content goes across all of the platforms, whether you like them or not. I don’t like TikTok.

[00:37:24] I think that they’re a company that is severely mismanaged and they’ve done little to nothing to help the creator economy out. And they’ve been a detriment to our lives, but I can’t deny the fact that it is the number one thing in the cultural zeitgeist right now. TikTok defines trends. TikTok defines what everybody in America is doing every day.

[00:37:41] I don’t like Instagram very much. I think Adam Mosseri, a CEO, has his little talks every week where most recently he did a video, which Hank Green, an iconic YouTuber actually responded to and told him to go off himself, which is crazy to hear Hank green say that. But Adam Mosseri opened this video where he is like, “We can’t figure out how to monetize creators yet.

[00:37:57] So we’ve decided to give you guys NFTs.”, which was so dumb because you haven’t figured out how to monetize creators. Your entire platform is based on creators. You’re the billions of dollars of revenue you bring in a year, give us half of that. And you would satiate the entire creator marketplace entirely, but you don’t want to do that.

[00:38:13] Transparently right now, I just got my very first sensory bonus a month ago and it takes 349 million views to get $35,000. I don’t know, a single creator in the universe, that’s going to get 359 million views on Instagram. No one is, it’s impossible, but they created that, that way. They don’t have to pay out creators.

[00:38:35] So I have a lot of problems with Instagram, but I can’t deny that Instagram is a currency that is like, oh, I have 200,000 followers on Instagram. It has opened so many more doors for me. As far as the legitimacy and YouTube’s golden. It’s great. It’s fantastic. You should always be on YouTube and you shouldn’t have any problems with it.

[00:38:49] Honestly, being a part of that Schwartz creator team and being a part of everything else they’re working on. They’re a company that’s always been really aggressive for creators. So I say all that to say that as much as grievances I have with those platforms and they’re valid, they’re terrible platforms and how they manage creators, they’re really important to be on.

[00:39:05] So even if it’s just uploading it at the end of the day and not looking at it again, Make sure you’re consistent across everything. You will grow and it’s consistent. It takes a lot of time to find your niche. If you do a video that has a million views and the next time you upload a version of it, it does 50,000, maybe you just upload it at the wrong time slot. Don’t be afraid to re-upload a video or to try that same idea again in a week or two days, whatever the shelf of short-form content, the future of content creation right now is much shorter. A video is viral for about a week, and if it’s viral for long.

[00:39:35] Awesome. But in a week you could re-upload the video in theory, with a glossy new title and some captions, and it could reinvigorate a brand new audience or make the other audience who really liked it. Happy! Being a great consumer is being a great creator and doing what you can to really enjoy it.

[00:39:51] If you spend a lot of your time harping on the whole, like I gotta be original and I can’t do what other people are doing. The Internet’s big. You could actually one to one, copy a creator, And maybe your audiences would never overlap and maybe you would have a really successful career on the other side of the internet.

[00:40:04] I’m not saying to do that. I’d say, if you want to replicate somebody, you do replicate them and then eventually put your own spin on it. But the internet is huge and there are hundreds of millions of users. And realistically, we’d all be happy with 20 million of our own. And if there are hundreds of millions, 20 million, isn’t that hard to come by.

[00:40:20] If you’re making stuff that you love, whether that is something that you’ve seen someone else do or something that you came up with.

[00:40:25] Bryan Pham: That’s really good advice by the way. Thank you. I could agree with you more, that we just have to continue. Being consistent and putting more content out there.

[00:40:32] That’s really what it is, right? Yeah. 

[00:40:34] Hassan Khadair: No, and look, this is a little plug of my brand, but your bad days are your best stories. So those little moments where you’re having a rough go of it, I can’t tell you that the saddest moments, the last two years of my life, have been the funniest things I’ve talked about in standup are the best stories.

[00:40:49] When I walk into a room with all my friends, I just reminisce about a terrible thing that happened. 

[00:40:54] Bryan Pham: Yeah, definitely. On the topic of plugs, let’s hear how our listeners can reach out to you and learn more about you online. 

[00:40:59] Hassan Khadair: Yeah. So I have the main @HassanKhadair everywhere. There’s a lot of Mickey Mouse stuff, but the main project that I’ve been working on recently is my podcast, Bad Days. You can look up Hassan Khadair Bad Days on YouTube, or go to my main channel and you’ll scroll to the homepage and it’s right there. And I’ve been doing that podcast weekly with friends. Other than that, I am a pop culture host for the comic historians on the comic story and main channel as well as their new channel.

[00:41:23] Absolutely Marvel in DC, where I review everything from the comic book, Marvel, and DC stuff to today. There was an episode that was released. That’s me talking about stranger things for eight minutes straight. Doing a lot, you’ll see me everywhere on the internet, but if you keep up with me on Instagram, you’ll get all the updates, on Twitter, you’ll get all the updates, but the Bad Days podcast channel on YouTube is definitely the place that I’ve put the most of my genuine self out there. So if you’re looking to get more of me specifically, that’s where you’ll go. And if you’re listening to this and you love podcasts anyways, so should plug in really well.

[00:41:52] Bryan Pham: Awesome. 

[00:41:52] Dude, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Absolutely enjoyed it. Everything you said was phenomenal, right? I think I want to really listen to the podcast two, or three times after this, especially as I’m editing the podcast as well. But yeah, thank you so much for being on the show today, dude.

[00:42:06] Hassan Khadair: Yeah. Thank you for having me. I appreciated being welcomed here as an Asian creator means a lot to me.

[00:42:11] Bryan Pham: Of course.