Class clown Tyler Allen’s knack for creating Internet comedy gold
The first time I heard Tyler Allen’s voice, it came booming from across the room. My friend sat cross-legged in her living room, laughing while starring at the iPhone illuminating her face. I walked over and hovered over her phone, shocked to see an extreme close-up of the bearded Allen with long, sun-bleached hair sounding exactly like Donald Trump as he described surfing a wave. Later, I made my way through his Instagram feed (@tylerallenvo), watching some of his videos more times than I am comfortable admitting. It took about 25 seconds of scrolling to realize this guy has been given a serious gift from the comedy gods.
Plenty of people can impersonate the president, but no one else can or is satirizing him as a surfer. Political comedy can get a bit repetitive, so there is something refreshing and light about Allen’s approach. But it doesn’t stop at Trump: Allen nails his imitations of every commentator and surfer on the World Surf League (WSL). I called up the Los Angeles native, who now lives near Malibu, to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on being a viral funny man.
What’s your day job?
I am a surf instructor and a voiceover artist. I’ve taught surf lessons for about five years now. The voiceover work isn’t very consistent, but now I’m getting more recognition and have gotten a couple of good gigs through my impressions that people have been noticing. I’m stoked on that.
Do you plan your videos, or are they done spontaneously? Give us an idea of the process.
Some of the videos are spontaneous. I think those are usually the best ones.
But sometimes I’ll have an idea I’ve been hanging onto for a week or two and then I’ll pull it out of my pocket when I feel it’s the right time. I kind of like holding onto ideas—it’s like I’m walking around with a secret weapon in my pocket.
As an avid WSL viewer, I think your Rosy Hodge impersonation is my favorite. You have that one in the bag. Have you always had a gift at doing impressions?
I have always had a good ear for accents and impersonations. I’ve always impersonated my friends and stuff like that. I’ve been doing my thing for about three years now, and everyone was telling me to do more. Now I want to run with it, because it is what I should be doing.
You currently have more than 20,000 followers on Instagram. How does that level of attention make you feel?
It makes me feel super cool! It’s so rad to me how many people that I’ve looked up to for so long are now reaching out to me, wanting to work with me, and telling me they love my stuff. It’s the ultimate compliment.
What is the funniest thing that has happened while shooting one of your videos?
You will see in the next video …
Clearly you are a surfer. Describe your ideal surf trip.
Dang. I went to Indonesia a couple of years ago and while I was there I heard that my local beach break was good and I was kind of bummed I was missing out. So I think I would rather surf my local beach break when it’s firing than anywhere else. It’s more special.
What’s the future looking like for you? Any major career goals?
[I’m] just going to keep doing what I’m doing and then I think really good things are going to happen. I think it’s really important to not dwell too much on what is going to happen in the future. Same with the past. I think it’s life’s secret to just appreciate it right now.
What is your dream job?
What I’m doing [but] making more money with it. I’m here to make people laugh, and I just want to do funny stuff and make a career out of it. It would be epic to be on SNL or to be an interview guy at surf contests.
If you could be any surfer on the WSL, who would it be and why?
I would be myself when I get on the commentary booth.
What is one of your biggest fears in life?
My biggest fear is to work a job I hate and not run full speed with what I have got going now.