Derek Murawski
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Derek Murawski

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"Ham Lake teen turns humor and filmmaking hobby into dollars"

[Artist note - I am now 18, and this article is about my online success & fan following through my YouTube/Google Adsense content partnership.)

Comic Derek Murawski of Ham Lake is garnering fans from as far away as Europe, and he hardly has to leave his bedroom.

The 17-year-old Blaine High School senior creates and films funny videos which are posted on YouTube. And he’s making money at it.

He might be balancing his white cat, Cozer, on the top of his head or assuming an alter ego, Guitar Zero, acting like he’s a boss player, when his mom (submitting to a cameo appearance) in no unsubtle terms reminds him – “you suck!”

“My favorite thing in the whole world to do is to entertain people,” Derek said in a phone interview with ABC Newspapers.

So far Derek has made 128 videos. He cranks out about one a week. The cast of characters in the two- to three-minute videos range from a solo appearance of Derek himself to seven or eight friends appearing in a comedy sketch.

He tapes at home, in parks, in the neighborhood and on trips.

Derek describes his videos as mostly family fun. Some with double entendres, in particular, have a controversial edge. But the focus is on funny.

He gets paid for being funny

Three years ago Derek viewed YouTube for the first time. He had heard you could make videos, set up an account and get paid for them.

One year ago he started making money for his creative efforts. A good month will earn Derek about $100 for his videos. One month brought in $130, another $120.

He gets paid a cut of YouTube’s revenues when someone clicks on his video. If someone clicks on the ad next to the video, he makes more.

So far, his videos on YouTube have been viewed 1,210,220 times, with the most views in California, followed by Minnesota and Texas.

Europeans and Canadians watch as well.

Derek gets his sketch ideas from walking and observing. Sometimes, the ideas randomly pop into his head. Sometimes, the short films are a series of jokes.

“It’s not a formula thing,” he said. For Derek, the best part of the videos are the appreciation he gets from fans.

“People have sent me messages saying my videos have made their bad day positive,” he said.

The most challenging part is the editing. A two-minute video can take Derek, a self-described perfectionist, from two to three hours to edit.

Derek has always been an entertainer, said his friend of eight years Amanda Soczynski, now a sophomore at the University of Minnesota. They were in plays together in middle school.

“He’s always had an outgoing personality; for him, doing videos seems natural,” she said.

“I think the funniest thing about his videos are the changes in his emotions. He’s up. He’s down. He takes normal, everyday problems and makes them quite funny.”

As a child, Derek put on plays for the family, said his mother Patty Murawski.

“He’s always been very creative since he’s been little,” she said.

Derek showed early signs of a budding career in entertainment when at four-years-old he read an entire Dr. Seuss Christmas book out loud to his family at a holiday gathering.

He won a contest for a serious video

Not all of his videos are humorous, however. In 2007 he filmed a video of himself reflecting on the person who has influenced him the most.

He spoke about his half-brother Justin, 28, who died in the same year. Justin followed his dreams and took a trip around the world before he died.

Derek won first place out of 300 contestants in a contest sponsored by YouTube.

Next year Derek will enroll in a two-year program offered through Anoka-Ramsey Community College and later attend St. Cloud State University where he plans to go into mass communications.

His goal is to work in the entertainment business.

Derek names Chelsea Handler, 34, who is a master at improv, as his favorite comedian. He rarely watches TV.

Instead, he watches clips on YouTube as part of the young online video revolution crowd.

Derek has acted in five Blaine High School’s theater shows. Most recently he was the prince in “Snow White.” He was a member of the school’s speech team for three years.

As far as his videos go, he will continue to follow his dream about having fans, a dream he has already realized.

“It’s not necessarily about being a celebrity,” he said. “It’s about entertaining people and making them feel better.”

To view Derek’s videos go to www.youtube.com/dmurawski or www.derekplease.com . - ABC Newspapers


Discography

Winter - Single
Flakes

Photos

Bio

Born & raised in the Twin Cities, my music reflects a typical young LGBT person's adolescence and transition into adulthood. Not just another scene band that gained fame on the internet (though I am a YouTube content partner with an audience of over 8,500 fans), I am a male pop artist. I consider Britney Spears my main influence, as her songs are always focused on bringing a fun and sex appeal into people's lives. My "Winter" single has charted on the iTunes Dance Albums chart three times.