With the energy of a 3-year-old after five iced lattes, Blippi has shot to YouTube fame by taking toddlers on journey's through soft-surface play spaces and parks. In other words, Blippi (pictured as a plush doll in the image above) is Mr. Rogers, Elmo, and Dr. Seuss all rolled into one colorful, high-energy package and the kids are here for it.
Blippi videos are simple in concept: follow a guy wearing orange suspenders, a bowtie, and glasses to places like museums, farms, and local fire stations, then listen to him explain how things work in a way a toddler can understand. It really isn't a wonder why kids love him, but who the heck is the guy behind these educational videos racking up millions of views?
If you’re like me, the minute I saw his unusual (but admittedly entertaining) show, I pulled out my phone and got to Googling.
- RELATED: 10 Best YouTube Videos for Kids
It turns out that Blippi was created and is played by a perfectly normal guy who also happens to have a knack for marketing—31-year-old Las Vegas resident Stevin John. After a two-year stint in the Air Force, John dabbled in video production and also spent time as a marketing consultant. Then, in 2013, inspiration struck in the form of his 2-year-old nephew.
After spending some time checking out his nephew’s YouTube favorites, John decided to dive into the educational video market head first, starting with naming a character of his own. He listed several hundred made-up names that would be easy for kids to pronounce, had repeating letters, and that sounded cheerful and upbeat—and Blippi was born.
Blippi’s iconic look was not left up to fate either but was carefully crafted. In particular, his trademark colors were all chosen for a specific reason, from trying to make kids feel at ease to setting himself for future green-screen success.
“Blue is trustworthy and because I’m a male and I was in my 20s at the time—females are more trustworthy in kids shows—I felt it was really important,” John said in an interview with Mashable. “Orange is fun and creative. Green was another good one, but I understood that in the future I was probably going to shoot green screen with a large company, and I didn’t want to be the burden to have them paint it blue. I ruled it out.”
He posted his first Blippi video in 2014 and the rest is history. With catchy songs, manic energy, and that bizarre man-child vibe (and a net worth of around $20 million), Blippi has invaded the brains of our children and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. But even the most loved celebs have a few skeletons in their closets and Blippi is no exception.
In 2013, prior to the creation of Blippi, John released a video under the name Steezy Grossman that was anything but kid-friendly. In the style of twenty-something Johnny Knoxville wannabes everywhere, the video featured John making the Harlem Shake his own—by pooping directly onto an unidentified friend. The now-deleted video was a viral success, but when it came to light last year that the “Harlem Shake Poop guy” was in fact kids' dearly beloved Blippi, there was a bit of a dust-up. John apologized for the video, saying he regretted it in a statement to Buzzfeed, who broke the story earlier this year.
John, now managing his YouTube empire instead of pooping on friends, is growing the Blippi brand by leaps and bounds. Blippi merchandise is widely available and there is even talk of a Blippi branded K-Swiss deal. Available to watch on both Amazon Prime and Roku as well as YouTube, Blippi also launched a live tour that’s currently traveling the country. But be warned: The Blippi on stage is not played by John, much to the chagrin of parents everywhere who spent big bucks for a Blippi experience.
Still, the show must go on...and on...and on (especially if you have autoplay enabled). Rest assured your kid can still see real-deal Blippi running around parks and getting very excited about things, on the small screen any time you need 10-12 minutes of peace.
Stevin John did not respond to interview requests for the preceding article.