Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
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Music-Theater-Dance

Miranda Sings off-key, comically, to legions of fans

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Miranda Sings, left, and her alter ego Colleen Ballinger.

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Colleen Ballinger had a secret when she called The Blade late last month.

The creator of the wildly popular Miranda Sings character canceled an interview, then apologized the next day when she called back.

“It was just a quick bug that decided to pass through my system. I will definitely not give you the details and hopefully nothing passes through the phone call, because you don’t want it,” Ballinger said, laughing.

Days later, Ballinger’s secret was revealed in a YouTube video when she announced that she is nearly four months pregnant, is engaged to boyfriend Erik Stocklin, and they are expecting their baby on New Year’s Day. Within days, the video had been viewed by more than 7 million people.

It has been more than 10 years since Ballinger became a YouTube sensation with the creation of Miranda Sings, the talentless, yet egotistical, character who entertains viewers with bad advice, even worse dance moves, and off-key covers and original songs. The Miranda Sings YouTube channel has surpassed 9 million subscribers. An episode from three years ago, “Where My Baes At?,” has racked up more than 27 million views. A parody of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” has been viewed more than 30 million times.

The Miranda character started on a whim when Ballinger was a senior at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif.

“The creation of the character is a combination of two things: There were girls I went to school with who were snooty and rude. They were not the nicest girls in the world. But they were blindly confident. I love that quality in anybody. I made this character out of it,” Ballinger said. “At the same time, YouTube was becoming popular. I thought YouTube was nuts. You could make a video and upload it to YouTube, and anyone could see it. It was so bizarre to me.”

As a joke, she uploaded the first Miranda video in February, 2008, thinking only her friends would see it.

“I uploaded this cocky, untalented girl to the Internet to see what would happen. After a year or a year and a half, the videos started going viral,” Ballinger said.

The character’s talent level is vastly inferior to Ballinger’s. At Azusa Pacific, Ballinger majored in vocal performance, studying classical performance and musical theater. She has been an off-Broadway performer, has appeared in regional theater, and has given private voice and piano lessons.

“I trained to sing well, but now I sing poorly for a living. That was money well spent,” Ballinger said, chuckling. “I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. When I was in college and reading music and doing ear training, I was a little more advanced than the other people in my choir classes. So to entertain myself and kind of annoy the friends around me, I would sing just under the pitch or just above the pitch. I think that helped my poor singing as Miranda — all the goofing around I did in class.”

The Miranda Sings YouTube channel eventually led to Ballinger’s own channel, which she uses to feature her comedy and lifestyle videos. The Miranda character was the focal point of Haters Back Off, which ran on Netflix for two seasons. Miranda was also a guest on Jerry Seinfield’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in 2014. In 2015, Ballinger’s book, Self-Helf, offering Miranda’s quirky and unhelpful life advice, became a New York Times bestseller. On July 10, My Diarrhe will be released. The premise is that the book is her stolen diary that contains all her thoughts on life and deeply personal views on dating.

“I’m always so terrified that tomorrow no one will watch me anymore or care anymore. Every day I say that I can’t believe this is happening. It’s so crazy,” Ballinger said. “Because of that, it makes me work so hard every single day.”

If You Go

What: The Miranda Sings ... No Offense Tour

When: 8 p.m. July 27

Where: Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.

Tickets and info: Colleen Ballinger performs her one-woman comedy act portraying herself and YouTube character Miranda Sings. Tickets are $39 and are available at the box office, 419-381-8851, or online at stranahantheater.com or etix.com.

On July 27, she will bring her one-woman comedy show to the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd.

“This show is going to be the best one yet — in my humble opinion. I’m doing something I have never done before. I am starting the show as me and doing half the show as myself and half as Miranda. Typically it is just a Miranda show,” Ballinger said. “I’m putting in a little more standup and more original songs in to make it more fun for the audience. I get to play with the audience and torture them a little bit, which is super fun.”

In the phone interview, Ballinger perhaps unintentionally hinted at the big changes coming in her life when she discussed playing Miranda as a 31-year-old.

“Somehow, no one has really questioned what Miranda’s age is and why she is still home-schooled. If people ask, I just say, ‘I don’t know. How old do you think she is?’ “ Ballinger said. “As things in my life happen — big events — those things will have to happen to Miranda. If I’m still doing Miranda when I’m a grandma, then so be it.”

With baby No. 1 on the way, life is about to change in a big way for Ballinger, Miranda, and their millions of fans.

The Miranda Sings ... No Offense Tour will be at the Stranahan Theater 8 p.m. July 27. Tickets are $39 and are available at the box office, 419-381-8851, or online at stranahantheater.com or etix.com.

Contact Brian Dugger at bdugger@theblade.com or on Twitter @DuggerBlade.

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