YouTube’s newest star is Fred Figglehorn, a lonely, speedy-voiced 6-year-old with anger-management issues.
Fred is played by 15-year-old Lucas Cruikshank, a high school freshman from Nebraska whose web-based comedy series recently earned the distinction of being YouTube’s Most Subscribed Channel of all time, with more than 650,000 viewers signed up.
Cruikshank created his Fred character two years ago as a way to parody video bloggers who create self-important videos about their lives.
“I just wanted to make a video for Halloween, so I created Fred and sped up the voice,” Cruikshank tells PEOPLE. He often looks to the youngest of his seven siblings for inspiration. “I have little brothers and sisters and know how funny they can be.”
The character Cruikshank created acts out by posting videos on the Internet often because he’s not getting enough attention from his alcoholic mom (dad is in prison). Like Fred, Cruikshank improvs his material and shoots and edits his videos each week.
“I never planned on it being a series,” he says of his Fred show, which graduated from viral videos to a full-fledged YouTube series last May. Now Cruikshank is lining up sponsors for his upcoming third season, and even appeared on YouTube.com’s live concert event Saturday.
“I’ve always liked Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller and Will Farrell. My favorite movies ever are Zoolander and Blades of Glory,” says Cruikshank. “I’ve always wanted to be an actor or a movie star, but I figured that’s probably not going to work out because I live in Nebraska.”
But thanks to his huge online audience, Cruikshank is overcoming geography. He’s already taped a guest-starring spot in Nickelodeon’s iCarly that will air next spring, has a Fred T-shirt line in the works, and flies to L.A. for network meetings about future projects.