In an Ugly Election Year, Randy Rainbow Uses Musical Parody to Bring on the Laughs
You couldn’t blame Randy Rainbow‘s neighbors for wondering exactly what is going on at 3 a.m. in his 6th floor New York City studio apartment.
With an audience that consists exclusively of his Persian cat, Mushi, the gay comedian and social media star belts out musical parodies through the night, using a computer and a green screen to make videos skewering this year’s ugly political season.
One of his biggest hits, “Braggadocious,” a spoof of the first presidential debate, has thus far received more than 30 million Facebook views, with another viral lampoon, “Grab ‘Em by the P***y” — Rainbow‘s take on Donald Trump’s apology for making vulgar remarks about women — not far behind.
His latest video — a spoof of Melania Trump’s interview this week with CNN’s Anderson Cooper — was posted on Tuesday, and now Rainbow is looking to Wednesday night’s final presidential debate to provide him with another truckload of new material.
“What I love is that I’m hearing from people on the left and people on the right that I’ve given them something to laugh at,” says Rainbow (yes, that’s his given name), 34, who works for the theater website Broadway World when he isn’t dreaming up lyrics for parodies.
“Although I’m not a big fan of Donald’s, I have to confess that I do have a certain fondness for him in my heart,” he tells PEOPLE. “It seems like every day there’s a new viral moment with him. I’m thinking that I should send him a ‘thank you’ gift basket of some kind. Maybe a gift basket of deplorables?”
Rainbow‘s videos are so popular on social media that he says he has heard from several producers interested in developing television shows based on his persona.
“I’m tickled, absolutely,” he says. “I would love to have my own television show, and I feel like I’m close to finally getting my big break. My mom is probably my biggest fan. She’s as thrilled as I am.”
Growing up in South Florida as an only child (his mom, Gwen, is a secretary and his dad, Gerry, is a talent agent), Rainbow says that his unusual last name was the least of his worries.
“Yes, there were snickers and whispers whenever it came time for the teacher to take roll,” he tells PEOPLE, “but I was also a gay kid into musical theater. I became a star in the school drama club, so that saved me a little bit. But it definitely wasn’t the Glee experience.”
After moving to Manhattan at age 21, Rainbow waited tables and worked as an office assistant for a few theater producers before starting his own Broadway blog. In 2010, he started making videos of imaginary chats with Broadway stars, and that morphed last year into creating political parodies during the presidential primaries.
“I started out with what I call the ‘GOP Dropout’ series,” he says. “Carly Fiorina was my first victim. When she dropped out of the race, I did a parody of ‘Beauty School Dropout’ from Grease. It got such a good response that I decided I’d just keep going.”
Happy when his political videos received between 1 and 4 million views on Facebook, Rainbow wasn’t prepared for the success of “Braggadocious.”
When Donald Trump said the word during the first debate with Hillary Clinton, Rainbow immediately thought of Mary Poppins and stayed up all night to film a video.
“I was able to release it the very next day and that contributed to its success,” he tells PEOPLE. “You have to be able to turn these things around fairly quickly.”
Because Rainbow releases one parody a week, he didn’t do a musical take on the second presidential debate and instead focused on Donald Trump’s apology for offensive comments about women that were caught on tape.
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“There is so much material that I can’t keep up with him,” says Rainbow, who is resting up before the third debate — likely his next subject. “Every day, he gives me something new.”
He makes no secret that he is a Clinton supporter, although if Trump is elected, he says, “I would certainly have a lot of material.” Rainbow is silent for a moment, then quickly adds, “But country comes first.”