YouTube Star Rudy Mancuso to Tour with Justin Bieber: Inside Their 'Close Friendship' and How He'll Start the Show

Since Mancuso met Bieber, he's always thought of him as "that cool kid Justin with a good heart"

Photo: Jasper

Justin Bieber will be in the “Company” of friends when he returns to Brazil for his Purpose World Tour.

Longtime pal Rudy Mancuso will open for the pop star during his two spring stops in São Paulo, PEOPLE can exclusively announce.

Mancuso, 24, rose to viral fame online, garnering millions of followers on Vine, then YouTube with his Awkward Puppets series and musical-comedy sketches — and in the past six months, he’s accumulated more than 100 million views and 1.4 million followers.

The digital star, who’s working on producing his first network TV show, met Bieber, 22, a few years ago through a mutual friend: Mancuso’s manager John Shahidi of Shots Studios, which Bieber also happens to be a partner in.

“We just became good friends, and kind of organically, our brains meshed because we’re both creative, and I was fond of his skill and he of mine, and we just almost accidentally created this friendship and partnership,” says Mancuso of Bieber, who’s joined the rising star in both his Awkward Puppets series, as well as in a jam session that went viral.

“Justin was one of the first guests that we had as a cameo in it. So it kind of bounced around, from jamming in my apartment and my friend accidentally pressing record on his camera and putting it on YouTube, to creating content all over the Internet,” adds New Jersey native Mancuso.

Indeed, the stars bonded over their creative pursuits, which for Mancuso recently included starring a YouTube Red Christmas special, with A-list guests like Mariah Carey and DJ Khaled.

“My friendship with Justin, I’ve treated it as any other close friendship I have,” says Mancuso, who’s pursuing music in addition to his endeavors online and in television. “To be quite honest, I don’t have a lot of close friends, and I actually would consider Justin to be one of those friends, and it’s only because pretty much after the first time we hung out a couple years ago, he wasn’t anything more than ‘that cool kid Justin with a good heart.’ That was it; it was just easy. It’s like hanging out with a buddy. He’s just a good, talented friend.”

So how will Mancuso put his own talents to use on the same stage Bieber will take?

YouTube Red

“It’s gonna be a little bit of a surprise. I’m gonna try to do something new, but I can tell you that’s it’s gonna be very different, and it’s not gonna be your average opening act,” he says of the April 1 and April 2 shows he will play with the “Sorry” singer. “I’m not saying it’s comedy or music or both — but it’s definitely a one-man show, and I’m attempting something I’ve never done before.”

As a Brazilian-American, Mancuso — who commemorates his Brazilian and Italian roots in a colorful forearm tattoo — adds that his cultural ties to the country will inform his act.

“My mother was born and raised in Rio, and I spent a lot of the early years of my life in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and I consider myself just as much Brazilian as — if not more, than — American because that culture was such a huge part of my life growing up,” he says. “My first language was Portuguese, and everything from Brazilian food, music, people — the culture as a whole is such a huge part of my life; it’s in my blood. So how do I touch base with those people? I can’t think of a better, more extreme way than to be onstage in a room with a lot of them!”

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