If you’re one of the 1.4 million people that follow comedian Tyler Regan on TikTok, you’re intimately familiar with his quick-fire satires that paint hilarious caricatures of daily life in the U.S. of A.
What you probably don’t know, however, is that for the last year or so, Regan’s been filming and editing all those clips from inside an Airstream.
It was July 2020 when his girlfriend Tara Roberts up and suggested the two sell all their Los Angeles belongings, renovate a 1976 vintage Airstream all by themselves, and join more than 2.5 million Americans who live the #vanlife.
“The amount of research Tara did just to make this thing come to fruition (is astounding),” Regan says. “Whether it's like ‘what screw do we need to put in the step?’ It's three hours of research to find that screw, then you find the screw is on backorder for three years, so you have to find another one.”
Regan’s mom is an interior designer, and she worked with Roberts to create a truly luxurious interior that allowed the couple to travel from Coast to Coast and back again in style and comfort—but that doesn’t mean maintaining a viral TikTok career was in any way easy!
After nearly two years of prep, $16,000 on the purchase of the airstream and about $65,000 in renovations, the couple hit the road for eight months. Now, they’re finally hanging their hats in a permanent LA residence—at least for now.
“We just literally signed onto a lease for a house this morning,” Regan says during our Zoom chat. “We're here for a week and we'll be stationary, then we'll put the Airsteam in storage for a little bit. Then we have another trip planned for the summer.”
We caught up with Regan to hear more about his life-changing journey across the States, his tips for anyone who hopes to make it on social media, his plans for the immediate future, and more.
How does it feel now that you’re leaving the Airstream?
It's bittersweet! It was a really fun trip, super exciting. We got to go coast to coast. We probably don't have a trip of that magnitude again, at least for a while. The trip for the summer is Montana, British Columbia, Portland. We're going to the Pacific Northwest, ‘cause we didn't get to do that. We learned a lot, and it was really fun, but it's definitely surreal to be done after two years of prep.
@tylerregan I got chills when 2023 showed up #2022 #2023 #newyear #newyearseve #wednesday #party #celebrate original sound - Tyler Regan
Before we jump into the whole trip, I'd be remiss if I didn't talk to you about being a famous TikTok comedian. What was going through your head when you first downloaded TikTok?
Back in 2019, YouTube was where all my income came from. I had some friends who were very successful on TikTok and they were like, “do TikTok!” TikTok was still “Musical.ly” in everyone's mind. No one thought of it as a true competitor to YouTube. There was no built-in motivation and no way to make it part of my business. It was just lip syncing; not a real home for comedy. I downloaded it, but never found my niche. If you go back to my very early videos, it's just chaos. I had no idea what I was doing, so I stopped and kept focusing on YouTube.
All my YouTube videos had actors and camera guys. I had a producer for these big productions that involved more than just me. When COVID hit, I had to do things by myself. I started doing commentary comedy, and my audience was like, "This is not what we've come to expect." Even though COVID forced me to change my content, my audience wasn't forced to change with it.
I started TikTok again in April 2020, and it still was chaos for a while, but I kept trying different things. I started doing these comedy skits with just myself. It wasn’t a revolutionary idea. Vine did it long ago, but I missed the Vine wave playing soccer in college.
@tylerregan No experience, No problem #uhaul #moving #truck #trucking #driving #adulting #company original sound - Tyler Regan
Meanwhile, I didn't like my YouTube videos anymore. I was making content to chase the views I used to have, focusing so much on thumbnails, keywords, titles and how long it was going to be. I kept getting one step removed from what I wanted to make on YouTube, so on TikTok, I was like, “If I'm going to go down, at least I’ll do something I really like, and I really enjoy these comedy skits.”
They did freakin' terribly. Nobody watched them until maybe June or July when one kind of popped off with about 200,000 views, then I kept making that style of video and it kept building on that momentum. Within a year or so, I had almost a million followers, and now I'm at 1.5 Million. I was able to bring that same style of content to Facebook where I have about 200,000 followers, Instagram where I have about 130,000 followers, and it has all grown together. I made a brand new YouTube channel in the last two months to start putting short-form content up.
Look who's adopting a TikTok model all this time later.
It's funny that it all circled back, but YouTube is definitely my fourth most important platform. I want to have content going up on all platforms, because sometimes a video will do really well on Facebook and bomb on TikTok or vice versa. Now, I try to grow everything simultaneously, but it is nice that, where three years ago I felt dissatisfied with the content I was making, now I would watch every video I put out myself.
It's humanizing to hear it didn’t happen instantly. I think a lot of people who have aspirations about going viral on social media don't realize how much work it can be.
Consistency and persistence is big for sure. When I do go live, I get the question, "what is your advice for someone that wants to do TikTok?" My two biggest pieces of advice are: make videos you want to make, and be consistent.
It's way too much work to make videos you don't like. The spiel I always give is, if you make videos you like and they don't do well, at least you're making videos you like. If you make videos you don't like and they do well, you're forced to continue making videos you don't like. That's not even a good scenario, so you might as well try to make videos you like and try to make that work.
You'll find your people, but in order to make a career out of it and do it consistently, you definitely need to be prepared to have a lot of ups and downs. Ride that wave, and don’t get too high on highs and low on lows. Just put your head down and grind through it.
The interior of Tyler Regan's airstream, where he and girlfriend Tara Roberts lived and worked for eight months.
How was it trying to find that dedication while living on the road?
On one hand, the trip forced a work-life balance out of me, which I'm really grateful for. If I was single living in an apartment, I would never leave my house. My mindset used to be, “I'm going to work until I literally cannot see straight anymore, then I'll go live because I can do that to help my career. Afterwards, I might brainstorm ideas; then I'll sleep in, wake up and do it again.” I literally would not stop working, and I would do that for weeks on end.
Because of the Airstream trip, we were at a place for one week or 10 days, and I’d have one week to do my work but also explore where we were. I'd wake up and work until 3 p.m., because then we’d have reservations to do something at 4 p.m., or we're going on this tour or having dinner at 5:30 or whatever. You also lose a day on either end because you're traveling. That forces you to be efficient.
And you don't want to miss out, right?
It forced me to be okay with not being three weeks up (on content), and not necessarily getting everything done every day. It forced me to just live the trip. Originally, I was going to document it. I was going to make a second channel and do travel blogs. I had all the handles and YouTube pages, and it quickly became clear that I could either live the trip or document. You can't do both. I chose to live it, and I'm really happy I did.
My girlfriend ended up documenting a ton of it. Her socials turned into what I was going to do, and I was able to have these memories minus the work. That was a valuable lesson, even at my ripe-old age of 31. You're not going to be able to monetize every second of your life, which is a thing a lot of influencers and content creators struggle with.
I know bloggers that have ruined their whole relationship because they can't get out of this mindset of constantly creating content and sharing their life. Your life is seen through the lens of “how can I showcase this?” rather than “how can I just enjoy it?” I got into that same mindset a little bit, and this helped me break out of that. I’d say 90 percent of my followers don’t know I’ve been on this trip.
@tylerregan Okay she may have made her first good point #karen #karen #manager #grandcanyon #travel #vacation #usa original sound - Tyler Regan
Did you actually see Karen at the Grand Canyon?
I did not! Though I read some of the comments and people are like, “I worked at the Grand Canyon, and I've had almost this exact conversation.” There wasn't a direct correlation between the trip and my content, but it did open my eyes to a lot of funny things; experiences that ended up leading into content subconsciously. It definitely helped me meet a lot of people and see a lot of things, and that's always good for writing.
Was there anything in particular that you were exposed to or that you learned about people on your trip?
I was shocked by how many Waffle Houses there are! I'm from Philly. We don't have Waffle House, and driving through the middle of the country, there would be a Waffle House next to a Waffle House across from a Waffle House. Every point on I-40, you could see like three Waffle Houses.
But I will say, we met people from everywhere, and the big takeaway is that everyone's just doing their own thing. Everyone's living their life and trying to navigate it, just like you. We hear a lot about “the division,” and there is a lot of division, but the division is very much vocal minorities on either side acting like they're the voice of the 50 percent they're representing, and that’s just not the case.
I was in the middle of the country, where I might disagree with maybe 90 percent of their political beliefs, but it didn't matter! We were just chatting, sitting by the fire. Obviously there are certain things that are the end all be all; whether it's rules, laws or rulings that you have to fight for—loudly. But in terms of everyday experiences, you're able to coexist. The pandemic brought out the best and the worst in a lot of what this country can be, and I definitely only saw the best of the country during the trip, which is great.
Tyler and his sister Talia at the Church and Union restaurant in Charleston, SC.
What’s a non-typical destination you recommend people check out, and what was worth the hype?
Charleston, South Carolina, Key West and Santa Fe are all as amazing as everyone says. The one that surprised me the most? Eureka Springs, AR. It was legitimately one of the coolest stops, and I had never heard of it. I had never been to Arkansas in my life. Eureka Springs is the only place in America where the entire city is in the historical registry. It's awesome. It's haunted. It's built into the mountains. It's really cool. Definitely worth checking out.
Austin was the place where I'm like, "I could live here." Like Eureka Springs, I loved it. I don't think I could live there. Same thing with like Key West, but Austin? I could live there.
I’d love to hear the technicalities of your setup. How did you do that on the road?
I have a pop-up green screen that gets broken down, and I use only natural light, so I'm filming during the day because lights were too big to be in here. We have a bar cart, and I take everything off, put up a mini tripod and film on my knees. I put the green screen between the counter and the seating area where I am, put the tripod with the camera together with my microphone, lean it on our coasters, sit on my knees, and film my face this way for one character and another way for another character—and I make it work!
That's the one thing I'm not going to miss. Lighting is very important, especially when you're doing green screen stuff and keying stuff out. If you have a little bit too much sunlight coming in, your skin gets very red. You don't realize it until you key it out. Next thing you know, you're bright red and have to color correct everything. Once I have an office, have my big El Gato greenscreen and my lights set up, I'm going to be so protective!
It's also a pain, because you have to turn the A/C or heat off. You have to have silence. My girlfriend will go into the bedroom and be silent as I'm filming for an hour a day. Neither of us are going to miss that part. Plus, it's just a pain to have all this stuff in 200 square feet. That's half your house!
I heard you've got a podcast coming. Was it inspired by this experience?
My podcast launches in mid February, and the title is still a working title. Part of it was “wow, this is ending. We have so much free time,” but I think it was honestly inspired by the trip, too. I've learned so much, and there’s so much I would love to say, but my content is a box. You can't really venture outside the box. The podcast feels like a good way to get all my ideas and thoughts out on a weekly basis while not making a jarring change to my content. It can run simultaneously for people that are interested in hearing a more real side of me. Those that are just here for comedy skits, it's not going to encroach on what they enjoy.
Tyler and Tara
Photography by: Tyler Regan