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International YouTube Vlogger Caspar Lee On The Secret To His Success

The Knysna-raised, London-based star of YouTube fame spoke to HuffPostSA about his career, bromance with Joe Sugg and his battle with Tourettes syndrome.

01/06/2017 12:00 SAST | Updated 01/06/2017 12:52 SAST

If you aren't one of this Knysna-raised vlogger's 7 million subscribers on YouTube, you will no doubt recognise him from the "Spud" movies a few years back. Now with over 750 million views on his channel, Caspar Lee has become an international sensation based in London.

His waggish sense of humour, killer celebrity line-ups, and no-holds-barred pranks have made him the cock of the walk (a gross, dated British idiom, to be sure) on the YouTube streets.

Wildly light-hearted and comical, and seemingly unscripted in part, his channel is still (in his own words) hard to define. On close observation, it's a concoction of tongue-in-cheek interviews with trending celebs, riotous lad banter, pranks involving Caspar's closest mates submerged in ice baths, and more-than-occasional nakedness and strip-teasing (to viewers' horror or delight depending on your tastes).

HuffPost SA spoke to Caspar Lee about his career, bromances, culinary choices and -- more seriously -- his battle with mental health:

1. Let's throw back momentarily to when you first started vlogging. Did 16-year-old Caspar from Knysna anticipate think your YouTube channel might go viral as it has?

There were only a few people who could make a living from YouTube back then so I really just started because I loved it. I wanted to have somewhere I could upload things I had to say and I was a big fan of vloggers and online personalities. I had no idea it could be a career. Couldn't have dreamed it.

2. You and Joe Sugg (a fellow YouTube star) in particular seem to have forged an epic bromance over the years (on and offline, to be sure?). You recently said he would always be your "little honey badger", so we assume you're in it for the long haul. How far back do you guys go and how do you keep the flame alive?

We started hanging out when I lived with my friend Alfie, whois Joe's sister's boyfriend. We met, played some FIFA and eventually moved in together. We keep the flame alive in a number of ways: traveling together, working together, we have a production company together, we always hang out and have a great group of friends. It's awesome.

3. One up-and-coming South African vlogger that you think we should all know about?

Joshua Peters, who is also from Knysna. He's one of my best friends in the world and is doing really well. Check him out.

4. Who are your top three artists on your playlist right now?

Justin Bieber, of course. He has some big tracks right now. I also really love Kendrick Lamar, especially his track 'Humble'. Obviously the Chainsmokers too. I know these are all very mainstream, but I love the mainstream stuff.

5. Cheeky Nandos or Steers Wacky Wednesday (they're both South African brands operating in the UK so there's no right answer here)?

Oh, dude, definitely Steers. I really miss Steers. Nandos is great but you always wan't what you can't have. I think there is a Steers nearby but it's quite far... maybe there are more?

[It appears the Steers in Clapham, London, closed, so Caspar will have to head to Wembley for some flame-grilled goodness.]

6. Should we expect you in SA anytime soon or are you waiting for Zuma to fall first?

I really want to come as soon as possible. It's summer here now so I intend to spend it in London because it's beautiful at this time of year and I've been waiting all year for this. I always come home for Christmas so I'll be back soon.

[He didn't mention anything about Zuma, but we can reliably guess his answer.]

7. On a more serious note, you recently released a video on your personal experience with Tourette's syndrome. Do you think awareness around syndrome's such as Tourette's or mental health more broadly is improving?

I think awareness about mental health is definitely improving. In the UK, for example, the Royal Family have done a lot of campaigning around this and have opened up about their own experiences. People are beginning to understand its not abnormal to have a mental health problem.

There are also lots of YouTubers who speak about their personal lives and things they've gone through. People who watch them can find comfort in the fact they might be going through the same thing as the people they see online and perhaps see as a success in life.

I also think it's gotten easier as I've gotten a bit older because people my age usually won't make fun of someone struggling with mental health, unlike at school where it is common.

8. Lastly, are you working on any special projects right now that you'd like us to know about?

There's loads of exciting stuff on the go. We're always working as a production company on a number of shows, and not just things I'm in but also things I'm creating. We have loads of interviews with cool people coming up, so look out for this.