In this digital age, it takes something special to achieve digital superstardom. What started in a dorm hall nearly a decade ago exploded into something no one could anticipate. AreYouKiddingTV or “The Sign Guys” as people commonly refer to them as, has amassed an empire of over 10 million followers across their platforms with over 1 billion in engagement. Their videos provide their followers with a much-needed break from reality, and on occasion, open them up to collage possibilities they wouldn’t have otherwise considered. Their unique concepts, paired with the mystery of seeing where the pair will pop up next, captivates their audience and propels them to the top of the content creator pyramid.

We chatted with the powerhouse duo, Joey Gizzi and Steven Lannum, on their secret to viral success, their signature look, and what’s in store for AreYouKiddingTV.

Thanks so much for chatting with us! Take us back to the conception of Are You Kidding TV and tell us about your journey to digital superstardom.

We met when we were living in the same dorm hall during our first year of college at Elon University back in 2014. We both were film majors and grew up making videos for YouTube. In 2016, we created a YouTube channel, named AreYouKidding, and we filmed prank/comedy videos for that channel. One day, we decided to film ourselves standing outside silently with a sign that said “Take the Dollar” to see how people would react; this eventually turned into the sign series that we are most known for today. While we found some success on YouTube, we decided to move on and start our careers when we graduated in 2018. During Covid in 2020, we re-edited some of our old college videos into a vertical format and posted them onto TikTok under the rebranded name AreYouKiddingTV, and after continuing to post that old content we built up a pretty big following after a few months. Since then, we have been creating new videos and have reached 7.8 million followers on TikTok.

Photo Credit: Austin Lord 

In the age of social media what is your secret to viral success, and how do you make sure you stand out?

Our biggest secret to viral success was finding an overall concept that is original/isn’t the same thing many other creators have done. From there, keeping our content ideas fresh and making each video bigger and better helps keep people intrigued and coming back to watch our videos.

You guys are known for having a signature look in your videos – Sunglasses and a simple sign taped to your chest. How did you come up with this iconic look? 

This iconic look was just how we organically decided to dress ourselves for our first sign video. At first, we didn’t know the sunglasses would become a part of our brand, but one day when it was cloudy outside, and we didn’t wear sunglasses, people in the comments were shocked. After that, we realized it had become a part of our signature look and have worn sunglasses for pretty much every video since then.

When you aren’t donning your go-to sunglasses and signs, how would you describe your go-to style?

Steven: My style is usually pretty casual. I wouldn’t say I have a go-to style overall.

Joey: My style incorporates a lot of natural/neutral tones with an occasional pop of color, and I lean towards a more relaxed fit while keeping it clean and intentional. 

Do you have a favorite brand of sunglasses? What other brands can we catch you wearing?

Steven: I always wear Ray-Bans just because I own a pair, but I’m not too picky about the brand.

Joey: My go-to pair for AreYouKiddingTV videos are Gucci. But when we’re not filming I rotate between a variety of brands.

Are You Kidding TV has brought you all over the world. What have been some of your favorite destinations so far?

This year, we finally traveled abroad to film some videos, which we both loved. We went to London, Amsterdam, and Paris. Besides those locations, we like going back to North Carolina, where we went to school, Austin, Los Angeles, and Ohio.

Speaking of traveling, what other cities are you looking to knock off the bucket list next?

We’d love to go abroad again and check out some other European cities. In the United States, it would be great to go film in states we haven’t been to yet. We have the unique opportunity to travel and make videos right now, so we definitely want to take full advantage of that.

When you aren’t working, what are you doing to unwind and reset?

Steven: I moved to Nashville recently, so I’ve been enjoying checking out new spots here. I also enjoy working out, playing tennis, and am frequently at the movie theater seeing new releases. 

Joey: I love going on long walks in the evening and just being outside in general. Working out, watching movies, and playing video games also help me clear my mind.

You have a lot of interactions with fans while you are creating content. Do you have any fun stories you can share? 

We always enjoy meeting the people who watch our videos. Sometimes they tell us that they heard of a specific college/applied there because of our content, that they watch our videos every night, etc. It’s very humbling, and it makes what we do even more rewarding.

What’s coming down the pipeline for Are You Kidding TV, and where can our readers catch all the action?

We have big plans for AreYouKiddingTV coming up, and we’re excited to continue to make bigger and better videos. We currently have several collaborations in the works with artists, actors, sports teams, and other content creators. We can be seen on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, all under the name AreYouKiddingTV. 

Photo Credit: Austin Lord