Drop us a line if you’re interested in getting involved.
Whether it be sponsorship, contribution, feature or other,
we would love to hear from you!
Whether it be sponsorship, contribution, feature or other,
we would love to hear from you!
That was the premise of Julie Nolke’s YouTube video of Apr. 2020, “Explaining The Pandemic To My Past Self”, which now has twenty million views. It was the big breakout for the actress and comedienne, who has amassed nearly a million subscribers, and more than two hundred million channel views altogether.
For her viral hit, this year she’s been nominated for the coveted and renowned Best Webby Award for Viral Video, Best Individual Performance, and Best Writing.
Julie's Marine Tee: A smart choice for a seaside visit, this striped long sleeve tee offers top-quality craftsmanship and a flattering relaxed fit. Superior raw California cotton yarn and a time-honoured Japanese spinning technique result in a gentle, smooth texture.
Her channel – already six years old – continues to feature regular skits riffing on life’s foibles, in what could be best described as Canada’s female Millennial answer to Jerry Seinfeld.
Nolke has had roles in movies, short films, and television shows, including Oil Men, Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, and What We Do in the Shadows. (She also hints at an upcoming CBC show she’s involved in.)
In this photo shoot by Jared Leckie, Nolke dons the widely-recognized Tilly hat and companion shirt, to explore her own “city safari,” until such time as we can all have more far-reaching adventures outside lockdown. She is indeed a woman of many hats, as she explains, as a comedian, writer, video creator, actor, and sketch artist.
In this, our very own Swagger Woman interview, Julie Nolke shares how the idea of her YouTube channel came to be, who inspires her, and her own fascinating career pivots.
Julie: Definitely not. I’d say the opposite, probably. York is a very traditional acting conservatory. I had the mindset that I was going to graduate from school, get an agent, and follow these breadcrumbs ahead of me that would lead to this perfect career. I was going to book jobs, and then get famous. That was right when the industry was changing. It turns out, that’s not the only way to make a career as an actor. I spent many, many years trying to make my acting career happen. I couldn’t. I couldn’t find a way in.
The traditional industry, you have all these gatekeepers – in terms of agents and casting directors – who decide if you are qualified or good enough to work. In my gut, I always knew I was good enough, and as a writer I had something to say. That’s what prompted me to start a YouTube channel. I spent a few years trying the traditional route. When that wasn’t working, I decided to take things into my own hands.
Julie: I started the YouTube channel (Feeling Peckish) as part cooking, and part skit. One of the reasons why I went that route, as opposed to just doing comedy sketches off the bat, is that I was sort of heartbroken by the industry. I’d put in a lot of time and energy and I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere.
This YouTube thing really started out as a hobby. It was a way for me to practice on camera because I needed to keep my skills sharp, but I needed it to not break my heart. I’m very passionate about food and cooking. That seemed like a really natural niche for me to go into. That birthed Feeling Peckish. What was interesting about that story is that it ended up being kind of successful. I was a successful food host for a little while. We were discovered by Tastemade, which is a travel food production company in Los Angeles. But there was a clear point for me where I realized that I was getting too far away from what I ultimately wanted. I hit a fork in the road, and had to make a decision. I quit Tastemade and the food stuff.
Julie: I was big into comedy in high school. I was the captain of our improv team.
That’s where I caught the bug. Unfortunately, in university that was taken out of me. I was told, pretty flat out, that I wasn’t funny, and that someone who looks like me couldn’t be funny. A lot of the acting industry is what you look like. If you look like an ingénue you can only play ingénue roles. If you look like a leading man, you can’t tell jokes. That was drilled into us. It took me a couple of years after university to find that love of comedy again and say, ‘F@ck it. F@ck those guys.’ That was another part of the YouTube channel. It was a rebellion of, ‘No, I can be funny and I’m going to prove it.’
Julie: No. It’s all self-taught. When I started the YouTube channel, it was a lot of trial and error. Because YouTube is this big engine that requires you to create weekly or biweekly content, the trial and error process is pretty quick. You learn what works very quickly. I like to tell people that’s my master’s degree. That’s where I put the hours in and really crafted my writing and character choices, and just dialed in what my voice was in the comedy space. It’s taken years. I’ve had the YouTube channel for over six years now.
Julie: People probably don’t know that – or maybe they do – that I do it all myself. I have someone shoot the videos and, now that we’ve expended, I’ve been able to get some more help. But all the writing, all the acting, there is no one here producing or editing it. You have to really wear multiple hats when you decide to be an online creator.
Julie: I had the idea and the concept, to me, was so hilarious. I had aspirations in January of 2020. I had an idea of what my career would look like. Every year I do this thing where I sit down and plan out my goals. Then, of course, March/April of 2020 came around, and it was like every day there was unprecedented news. It was devastating and chaotic. There were a lot of unknowns and anxieties in the air, but it was also kind of hilarious. The concept was hilarious to me that every day something unprecedented was happening. So, that’s what birthed the idea.
I also made it for myself. Like I said, it was a very anxious time. The way I process anxiety and news like that is through comedy. So, I truly did make it for myself. I thought it was funny, and I was hoping that people would be able to relate to it, but I genuinely didn’t know.
Julie: To it going viral? I was floored. It is every creator’s dream that their stuff gets seen, or goes viral. I didn’t believe it for a while. I assumed the YouTube algorithm was broken. It was just so surreal. This happens in people’s dreams. This isn’t happening to me!
Julie: That’s where your head is going, right? I’ve been doing this YouTube thing for years. I’ve seen gains in different ways, but never like this. My initial reaction was disbelief. Then, it turned into outright joy because the response was so positive. There were so many people writing in saying, ‘Oh my gosh, yes. This is helping me digest this news we are receiving and deal with this situation.’
What I loved about people’s response to the video is that it seemed like it was giving people permission to laugh.
Up to that point we were still early in the pandemic. There were lots of unknowns. It was really scary because, of course, people were dying. I think the general public was desperate for something to release the tension. I was lucky enough to be the creator of a video that did that for such a global audience.
Julie's Hat: Handmade from a durable, naturally breathable cotton duck fabric, the Iconic T1 offers not just the highest sun protection rating, but is lightweight and well ventilated. Pair it with a top-quality striped long sleeve tee for a flattering relaxed fit.
Julie: I’m such a big fan of Catherine O’Hara. She’s such a chameleon of an actress, and just a comedic superstar the way her brain works. I’ve probably watched every one of her films many times.
Julie: It’s a toss between Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. I love that style of film. I love the dynamic she always has with Eugene Levy.
Julie: Well, the inspiration comes from everything – from what I’m currently doing, what I see on TV, people watching – it will go in the notes app in my phone as a one-liner. I have pages and pages of notes in my phone for different sketches. Not all of them will eventually be sketches. They are ideas or half sentences or characters where I say, ‘Oh, that’s kind of fun. Cool.’ I’m pretty ritualistic in terms of my writing process. I’ll sit down once a week and give myself two hours of disconnecting off my phone and computer just to let my imagination run wild. When I have my phone on, or can hear notification, I can’t tap into that childlike silliness required for sketch comedy. Sometimes I come up with sketches and sometimes I don’t, in that two hours. Normally, I’ll end up with some sort of silly idea that will eventually find its way on the internet.
From there, it’s just a matter of writing a sketch, which doesn’t take very long. Once you have the idea, you are like, ‘Oh, I need to get this on paper immediately.’ Then I go ahead and film it.
SWAGGER Magazine is North America's Men's Luxury Magazine. We focus our content on everything men love. Gear, Tech, Fashion, Rides, Sports, Health & Fitness, Food, and Feature Men and Women who possess SWAG.
How did we do? We release short features like this regularly. Know someone that has "SWAGGER"? Contact Us!