While the world began to shut down in 2020, Elon graduates Joey Gizzi ’18 and Steven Lannum ’18 found an opportunity to bring a little joy to people’s lives. Their page, AreYouKiddingTV, has over 3 million followers on Tik Tok and is gaining popularity by the day.
Over a few short years, Elon School of Communications alumni Joey Gizzi ’18 and Steven Lannum ’18 have built their viral platform, AreYouKiddingTV, from the ground up.
Gizzi and Lannum met as first-year students in the Communications Fellows program, forming a friendship that has developed into a more successful partnership than either could have imagined. During their time on campus, they worked with Elon Student Television, helping produce TV shows and gaining experience in directing, writing, camera operation, on-air talent and more. That led to the creation of the show “Elon After Hours,” where they played pranks and performed social experiments on campus.
When the show quickly gained popularity with students, Gizzi and Lannum created their own YouTube channel focused exclusively on similar content. It would become the forerunner to the wildly successful AreYouKiddingTV.
With the popularity of TikTok soaring, they found an opportunity to rerelease some of their older videos to a new audience, and it wasn’t long before their channel started to blow up.
“People being at home and spending more time online caused TikTok’s popularity to skyrocket, and as a result, our own content’s viewership started to increase very quickly,” Lannum said.
When the time came to get back into filming, they faced several obstacles.
“We were living in different states with full-time jobs, so we didn’t have much time. Once our TikTok account started to take off, we found ways to meet up and safely film new content,” Gizzi said. “It was definitely more difficult getting back into it during COVID, since a big part of our content involves interacting with other people.”
They quickly found that these obstacles were more than worth tackling head-on, as the videos brought viewers across the nation a little joy during a challenging time.
While much of their early content was created while they were students, they continue to return to campus after graduation, making Elon a regular part of their videos. Many of the videos take place just outside of Moseley Student Center.
“We enjoy coming back to Elon and reminiscing on the four years that flew by way too fast,” Gizzi said. “Elon has the OG filming location outside of Moseley. It’s the perfect spot to film our videos with all the paths coming together.”
Like many Elon students, Gizzi and Lannum had many unique experiences during their four years that helped prepare them for life after graduation. Lannum studied abroad in France during his senior year and saw parts of the world he had always dreamed of. The pair also adventured to Los Angeles together for the Elon in L.A. program, giving them an insight into what their future may look like.
“We both did the Elon in Los Angeles program, which was a great opportunity to work out on the West Coast and see what it would be like having a career in the entertainment business in Los Angeles,” Gizzi said.
As their videos continue to gain popularity, Gizzi and Lannum are looking forward to what’s ahead for AreYouKiddingTV, and they have no plans of slowing down. Whether that means moving so they are closer to each other, giving out bigger and better prizes or trying the account on different platforms, they are prepared to do whatever it takes to grow their channel.
“Making people laugh and brightening their day has always been our goal, and to see it actually happening is an incredible feeling,” said Gizzi. “I really think this is just the beginning.”