To this day, Blake Vapes has one of the most disliked videos on BuzzFeed. In the three-minute long segment from 2015, which is randomly interrupted by occasional bursts of dubstep, the self-proclaimed "Vape God of Instagram" wears his signature "hi haters" hat as he tells viewers how, for the past three years, his life has revolved around blowing "dope-ass clouds." He vapes while talking. He vapes while eating something "high in protein, obviously." He vapes while doing sit-ups. For those of you who haven't caught on yet, let me explain more clearly: Blake vapes. He vapes with goats. He vapes in front of empty cop cars. He vapes as he whips hatchets into trees. (All here in this single compilation.) In a short 2015 documentary, in which his cousins attempt to stage an intervention for his vaping but which he mistakes as a film about his vaping life, he walks around in a sideways hat that reads, "DAB THIS," saying stuff like, "#CloudPorn, you see that shit, dude. That's the first of so many clouds."
This might all sound like a bad joke—a Southern California bro who's lamely dedicated his entire existence to e-cigs with a frat-like mentality. It is.
Blake Vapes is not a real person.
Rather, he is the creation of Aristotle Georgeson, a 29-year-old LA-based comedian who, he told me over the phone, has "never even vaped."
"I do smoke weed, though" he said, laughing.
Georgeson is originally from "all over the place." (He grew up in Colorado, moved to British Columbia to play competitive hockey, and went to high school and college in Florida.) He struggled doing stand-up comedy, quite depressingly, in Boca Raton—"every person in the crowd was over the age of 60"—before heading to Los Angeles with his girlfriend (now his wife) five years ago. And he's been with the same group of guys—his writing partner, Nick West; his frequent collaborator Matty O'Connor, a.k.a. Matty Ghost in Blake's universe; and his DP, Adrian Alvarez—since he started posting content as Blake Vapes in early 2015.
But, long-term buddies and girlfriends aside, things have changed: Primarily, as of last year, Blake Vapes has almost entirely ceased vaping.
In 2017, he rebranded himself—abandoned the electronic cigarettes, replaced (most of) his handles with "Blake Webber," and seemingly focused all his attention on engaging with internet culture.
"I had to sort of pivot away from Blake Vapes," Georgeson said. "Really, I wanted to tell the story of Blake on bigger platforms. Blake Vapes, his name was always Blake Webber, so that's what I switched it to. I wanted to look at these influencers [like Blake Vapes] and show what they've become, and who they're becoming." (And, he continued, "The people who are potentially going to buy these projects, or use them, they're afraid of the word 'vape.'" By "people," naturally, he means brands and advertisers.)
He lost a few thousand followers after the switch (Webber currently has 755,000 on Instagram, and 20,000 on Twitter), but now, Georgeson said, "It seems as though no one remembers Blake Vapes. It's definitely benefited me."
If you ask Webber to describe himself at the moment, he'd probably say he's "killin' the game." More specifically, he fills his vape-less void with a bunch of hobbies: among them, dancing on a hoverboard, brushing off (farcical) interviews with TMZ, and posting every time he reaches a benchmark number of followers. He also snow tubes—and livestreams—going down "Triple Double Blacks," attempts man-on-the-street interviews on rollerblades while holding a scooter, and dumps protein shakes on his head to let them "seep into [his] pores." He rarely resists calling out his haters. All of his captions are in caps, and the words are frequently misspelled.
It's a slow burn, realizing Georgeson's conceit as Webber, but once you catch on, it's hard not to recognize what he's accomplished—namely, that he satirizes nearly every trope, pattern, or theme you've likely seen on social media. (Kids pouring shit on their faces. Kids celebrating a million follows. Kids liveblogging their every move.)
Georgeson's even applied the logic to hawking merchandise. Like, say, Jake Paul, who literally has a music video called "Buy Dat Merch," Georgeson conceived a strategy in which Webber markets his stuff through viral gimmicks, like when Webber pretended a portrait of his "Uncle Larry," which was in reality a painting Georgeson's friends had obtained at a garage sale "while high on mushrooms," was stolen and held for ransom. (Webber printed T-shirts with Uncle Larry's face on them to get enough money to "pay off the thief.")
But what Georgeson is best known for is adding his own voice-overs to the Instagram videos of celebrities with massive internet followings—Tekashi69, Cardi B, Plies, and Lil Tay are some of his favorite targets. His voice-over vids get hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of views on his Instagram page, and are frequently reposted by WorldStarHipHop.
"I saw this Cardi B video where she was talking about how you shouldn't be a hater and be a good person—and I thought it'd be hilarious to do that video, but with Blake's voice underneath it," Georgeson told me, when I asked how he conceived this idea for Webber. "And more than anything else, it's popped off."
How Georgeson credits his success, without directly crediting his success, is a simple thing: It's Webber's voice. It is Cartman-esque, nearly childish, as if he's somehow found the decibel at which to be equally whiny and annoying. It's a comparison, Georgeson says, that he's heard before. Just as that of the South Park fourth grader, it's the voice of "self-importance"—the voice, Georgeson clarifies, of those entitled people on social media and, occasionally, elsewhere. ("Like I deserve this, or I need that, because I'm this person—those types," he said.)
It's also "just funny."
"Whether good or bad," he said, "anyone can do the voice. Anytime I see someone doing it, they’re either laughing or smiling."
Georgeson's narration is often taken, word for word, straight from whatever famous person he's mocking or paying tribute to. More often than not, that person is a rapper—and more often that not, as previously mentioned, that person is 6ix9ine, the SoundCloud musician with rainbow hair and 69 tattoos of some variation of the numeral 69. (6ix9ine has been in the news lately for a number of legal issues, most notably in "the use of a child in a sexual performance.")
With the voice-overs, Georgeson is undoubtedly creating a particular niche for himself on the platform—who, as an almost 30-year-old stand-up, uses a fake persona to both jovially criticize the digital realm we all occupy, while at the same time trying carve out his space within it. He is, in that sense, much like Sacha Baron Cohen, albeit without (yet) the sort of societal impact of the British prankster, the guy who's brought us Ali G and Borat and those other characters we kind of forgot about. Georgeson engages, really, in the very thing he's poking fun at—and he's selling a person on social media, to his fans, who doesn't actually exist.
"A vast majority of my followers don't even know who I really am," he said. "To me, that's hilarious, because it's not the norm on social media. A lot of people are just doing a heightened version of themselves."
Not breaking character is one of Georgeson's most motivating factors, and as his Blake Webber creation seeps more and more into the real world (the character and his old pal Matty Ghost have a DJ duo, Double Dare, that's recently performed at Electric Daisy Carnival), he'll soon have to see how much harder it can get.
"I want the myth to live in Blake's world," Georgeson said. "I guess, like, I want people to always believe in Santa Claus."
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Alex Norcia on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.