Nine seconds, four words and millions of views in, Mick Merhi is an internet superstar. It’s not bhed at all considering his phrase is now a staple in the ever-evolving Aussie lingo. And I really knew he was a big deal when we met up in Sydney, and saw people craning their necks to catch a glimpse of Mr. Not Bhed.
A fishing trip to Sydney’s Botany Bay or Beirut by the Bay (that’s what the Lebanese call it, according to Mick) saw him proclaim a fish his friend caught, “two seconds in, not bhed, good size.” And so that was the moment that launched a thousand memes.
“As soon as my friend dropped the hook in, literally two seconds in, bang. It was a good size and I just said it, it was unintentional.”
He doesn’t remember the type of fish, but it served its purpose on the dinner table later that night and is now commemorated in the Aussie meme hall of fame.
The 24-year-old from Liverpool in Western Sydney is a self-described “sparkie during the day and at night just the average joe,” but his catchphrase has been immortalised in countless memes, songs and even in tattoos.
“The number of videos people have sent me—unbelievable, everyday it’s something different. There’s songs made out of it, so many remixes, so many people playing it, even the memes I just keep getting more and more memes, it’s unbelievable.”
The requests range from birthday shoutouts to wedding invitations and responding to the odd DM that slides into his inbox.
“I get weird messages, like...I can’t really say it, some of them are just really weird.”
For a big, bearded, burly bloke, Mick gets shy for the first time during our conversation. Like a fisherman feeling a tug, I probe and try to reel it in. Just how weird are we talking about?
“So one girl sent me a picture of her, you know…” he says sheepishly.
“Breasts,” I help out.
“Yeah… and she’s like to me, what do you think about them, and I said ‘not bhed, good size’ and she’s just dying from the response. It’s just the weirdest shit, anything for me to say it.”
Mick’s also had public exposure, albeit a bit more child-friendly, appearing in commercials for Hungry Jack’s, the Hyundai A-League, Spacenow, and has even trademarked the phrase. Wherever he goes, he gets the red carpet treatment—having his petrol paid for him by a stranger, walking into a Hugo Boss store and leaving with a free bag and belt.
“Everyone’s gotta make a living out of something. Why can famous people get free stuff but I can’t?”
From a phrase he’d just been using with friends, he’s since been invited to weddings, birthdays and random events just so people can hang out with him.
“Even with clients they freak out, for electrical work, they freak out when they find out it’s me. They’re so happy and sometimes people call me randomly for it so I go to their house and they just want me to kick it.”
While most things on the internet have a brief lifespan, “not bhed” has gone far since first being posted in May 2019, a year ago, which is a lifetime in meme years. Mick credits Brown Cardigan for initially launching the video to the masses.
“I heard someone playing it at work and they looked at me and I was tripping out because I thought it was my video I had posted on my facebook but it was on Brown Cardigan and from there, that’s when everything went sideways.”
And to prove celebrities are just like us mere mortals, Mick hated the sound of hearing his voice.
“My voice is just so woggish, I was surprised it even went viral.”
For a city of five million people, Sydney is as cliquey as a private girls’ school. You have a latte line that stereotypically divides the city economically and socially, with the west being known to be a bit rough around the edges. But a phrase birthed out west has creeped into even the mouths of white orthodox professionals.
“It’s always the older men, the white aussie blokes, they’re the ones that love it and have the biggest laugh about it.
“Everyone tries to imitate it and I love it because at the end of the day I’m meeting people no matter what nationality they are.”
Even his grandmother is known to drop the phrase in conversations, while the rest of his family is just as supportive.
“My parents are very proud of me, I finally made it on TV for nothing bad, no criminal offences or anything like that.”
While his dad thinks he’s going to retire out of Mick’s success, he still works seven days as an electrician. As a middle child amongst four sisters and six brothers, he was pitted as the least likely to succeed, but a love for the camera and being the loud one in the family proved them wrong.
Mick knows he can’t milk the phrase forever but there’s no sequel in the works. His next move is merchandising including shirts with an arrow pointing down saying ‘good soize.’
“Everyone asks me if I would make more videos but that one happened out of nowhere, so something else will happen out of nowhere. I try not to focus on it too much because if you focus on something too hard, it turns out shit because you’re trying too hard.”
So for the moment, Mick’s enjoying the ride. And if it ever dies out, he’s got a trademark on the phrase just for good measure—or good soize.