JP Sears, America’s newest favorite ginger, is regarded as a YouTube superstar. His hysterical sketch-comedy videos about things like, “How to Be Ultra Spiritual,” “First World Problems,” and “How To Take Yoga Photos For Instagram” have earned him more than 767-thousand subscribers on his YouTube channel, and over 11-million views on videos like “If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans.” Read, laugh, and learn more about what JP Sears thinks about Maui’s “Rainbow People,” conscious comedy, and the nuances of modern day spirituality trends.
MauiTime Weekly: For your Maui show, will you be performing comedy, motivational speaking, or a combination?
JP Sears: It will very much be stand-up comedy. It’s like my videos in the sense that it will be comedy, but it will be a different expression than the videos because they are based on performing for the camera, and typically in more of a sketch comedy type of scenario. My stand up is more three dimensional, where the comedy takes on a much more appropriate form for the stage. I’ll be telling stories rather than acting out sketches.
MTW: Will your show be appropriate for all ages?
JP: Well, this depends on how bad of a parent we’re talking to here [laughing]. I would say it’s PG-13. There won’t be an over abundance of dirty language, but there will be times that I will speak like an adult.
MTW: In the ‘About Us’ section of your website, it says:
‘JP Sears is a YouTuber, comedian, emotional healing coach, author, speaker, world traveler, and curious student of life. His work empowers people to live more meaningful lives.’
How do you think your work empowers people to live more meaningful lives?
JP: Well, I send messages within my comedy, and the messages are typically intended to be messages of self discovery so that people can get to know themselves a little bit more, shed some layers of their ego, and hopefully laugh while that happens. I don’t think anyone has ever gone to their doctor and been told that they need to laugh less. We can all use more laughter and fun in this mysterious adventure called life.
MTW: In regards to your YouTube videos, do you have a personal favorite? Mine is ‘If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans.’
JP: Yep. I would say ‘How To Get Offended’ would probably be my personal favorite. It carries with it a message that is just so relevant to the parlance of our times. I love the comedy in it, and I just love the unapologetic message that the video carries. Actually, Alex, in the spirit ‘If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans,’ I just filmed a new video about the ‘Carnivore Diet.’ I’m curious, have you heard of that? [laughing]
MTW: No. [laughing] Tell me about it.
JP: It’s actually a TREND. I’m not even joking. The Carnivore Diet is when you eat nothing but meat; no lettuce, no fruit, it’s literally only meat. It’s gotten a lot of traction, it’s like reverse veganism. Similar to what I portray in the ‘If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans’: video – which was actually a joke… Now, there’s people actually eating this way.
MTW: Do you write all of your sketches for the YouTube videos? Are you the sole writer, or do you have a team?
JP: Yeah. I am the sole writer. In my opinion, writing the videos, and performing stand up, that’s the sacred garden of my creativity; I don’t want anyone else in there.
MTW: It actually feels like that when you watch your videos, and they appear to derive from your complete opinion. It’s cool to know that, because it’s not the case with many other internet and stand-up comedians. I’m wondering what kind of experiences or ‘spiritual scenarios’ you have had in the past. Are you a vegan? Are you a yogi? How have these video ideas come into your mind?
JP: I lived in Encinitas (Calif.) for 10 years. Encinitas is very much on par with Maui, Sedona (Ariz.), Boulder (Colo.); it’s one of those spiritual hubs. It attracts so many wonderful conscious people who are very active with their personal and spiritual growth, and indeed I was very immersed in the culture. I still am. I had a lot of amazing growth happen. Everything I portray in videos, that some think I’m making fun of – it’s all important stuff to me. Yet, after about 10 years, I started to realize my ego is really gratifying itself through the various facets of my spiritual practice. So, what I discovered is that the path I’m taking to find myself is also becoming the path that I’m losing myself on. When I portray these things, it’s not because they aren’t important to me, it’s because they are important enough that I want to help myself and other people shed the shadow that can attach itself to beautiful self-growth practices. Like, ‘Hey, I’m more vegan than you. I’ve been vegan longer, I meditate longer each day.’ Instead of being pulled in that direction where we think we’re going to our heart and soul, I like to help people become aware of that so we can let our practices in the way of our Self.
MTW: This is actually leading to my next question. Do you think entitlement is one of the biggest nuances of new age communities? It kind of sneaks up, right? People have this honest desire to learn more about themselves, and sometimes it does become some kind of competitive and strangely trendy type of entitlement…
JP: Well, I certainly wouldn’t discount that, Alex. I think entitlement is definitely a factor. In my opinion, one of the biggest nuances is the need for significance. It’s one of the factors that can start to create murky waters in one’s self-growth practice. And when I say need for significance, I’m not talking about the Ego’s point of view. Like, ‘I’m bigger than you, I’m more than you are, I’m better than you, I’m more spiritual than you.’
MTW: Have you ever been to Burning Man?
JP: I have not. But, as of late, I have been getting a lot of pressure to go.
MTW: Do you drink kombucha?
JP: Ha! Yes, I do.
MTW: I suggest that you go to Maui Kombucha when you’re here on Maui. It’s a super cool community, and I think you’ll feel very familiarly happy there. Personally, I am not a vegan, but I love vegan food.
JP: Same with me, I’m not vegan. My wife is, but I love everything vegan food has to offer. Thanks for the recommendation!
MTW: If you had a friend trying to ‘reach their highest potential,’ what would you suggest for them? Let’s say this friend is one that’s constantly going to all the stuff; sacred sound baths, yoga, meditations, etc. There’s a lot of that here on Maui, so with your motivational coaching, how would you begin to help this friend?
JP: I would encourage her to move further out of her comfort zone. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going to all the sound baths and community gatherings all the time, but sometimes that becomes a shelter where all it does it nurture the need for self comfort. If someone can go to a community gathering and use it as motivation to go back into their life and do something personally productive, I think that’s where it’s at.
MTW: Do you still live in California?
JP: No, actually my wife and I just moved to Austin, Texas, which is kind of like the new Maui of the mainland to be honest with you. It’s a pretty fascinating vortex.
MTW: What do you think ‘Living Your Truth’ really means?
JP: That’s a good question. I think it means being a good listener for the inner feelings and even the intuitions that ask us to live in ways that are purposeful. Being true to our inner truth means that we’re truly a student. I doubt I have a complete answer to it, although I appreciate saying a few words about it.
MTW: When do you think spirituality or ‘being spiritual’ became a trend? 15 years ago with the big yoga bust? Gaia? Trader Joe’s? When did it become less underground and more popular?
JP: From my observation, it seems like it the mid-2000s. I think many reasons simultaneously caused it to become a trend. Gaia, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s… I think, yes, yes, yes. All the yoga studios popping up, meditation classes, books being put out… I think YouTube is also important because now spiritual teachers have a direct way to reach a new audience. It was a perfect storm of many factors that set the stage. As much as there can be shallowness and ego involved with the trendiness of anything, personally, I’m grateful that it’s a trend. Trendiness in a double-edged sword, but in this case, it may also be a good thing.
MTW: What about the effects of direct events of this time?
JP: Another factor is 9/11. That shook not only America, but the world. It put a new sense of fear in a lot of people. I think that one of the good things about being afraid is that it can motivate people to start searching for stability. There’s nothing more stable than truth. For example, money status – that is not stable. It may gratify you for awhile, but the tide comes for all those sand castles. It will wash a way because it’s not true stability. Present day, with the state that people feel about American politics, there is a new cycle of fear starting, and I think we’re seeing an influx of people going back towards self growth, spirituality, nutrition… like never before. I think we’re solving all the world’s problems here today, Alex. [laughing]
MTW: Yeah. Imagine if we were on some psychedelic drugs together. We would really solve all the world’s problems then.
JP: Maybe we are? [laughing] Maybe you’re hallucinating that you’re talking to me, and I’m hallucinating that I’m talking to you. I have no way to prove that’s not true!
MTW: In that case, I hope I wake up and I’m still OK!
JP: Now the paranoia is settling in. Just breathe. Follow your breath.
MTW: Let’s go to something less deep. What do you think about people who change their born names to spiritual names? Sara arrived on Maui and changed her name to Shakti. What do you think about that?
JP: I think it’s very humble of her to anoint herself with such a noble name.
MTW: This is what we call ‘The Rainbow People’ here on Maui. I feel like you could make a great YouTube video about Maui’s Rainbow People.
JP: Rainbow People is the perfect name. I’m not going to argue, I think that’s a great idea.
MTW: I mean, if you’re given a name by a shamanic healer, OK. But, when you personally change your own name to a spiritual one – what do you think about this?
JP: I think if a levitating guru gives you a new name – listen up. I would never deter someone, if they’re motivated or inspired to give themselves a new name, do it. I would also ask people to consider where is this new name coming from? Maybe the real journey is embodying the actions that one of those ‘rainbow’ names really means.
MTW: Ok. Next. With your motivational speaking, do you have a goal of being a big, comedic, Tony Robbins type of motivational speaker?
JP: No, in fact. The direction has been kind of the opposite. Before I did any comedy videos, or professional comedy, I had been doing life coaching for 15 years. Part of that was motivational speaking, teaching workshops and retreats around the world. While I was doing that, I was working under a self-induced story that said, ‘it would be bad for business if I let my sense of humor out.’ So, on the professional level, I was intentionally restricting my sense of humor for the first part of my career. I kept getting the urge to share my perspective through the language of comedy, and finally, I gave in. It’s opened up a whole new world for me. I think right now I’m on a new trajectory that is ‘conscious comedy.’ I’m curious to see where it goes – it seems to be pretty uncharted territory. I plan to keep Forrest Gump’ing my way through and following my heart.
MTW: Do you think that being a ginger helps with your branding?
JP: I do! It’s weird. Being a ginger as a kid – I thought it was a complete curse. I was the only one in my class growing up with red hair. I was different. Now, I see it as a blessing for oddly enough, the same reasons. For branding purposes, it definitely makes me stand out, especially because I have long red hair. There’s not too many of us weirdos running around with long, red hair. I also think it helps people feel sorry for me which makes them want to watch my videos more.
MTW: That’s funny because I was telling my friend that I was going to interview you, and she was like, ‘Who’s that?’ I said, ‘That funny YouTube red head,’ and she was like, ‘Ohhhhh, yeah, he’s so funny.’
JP: Alex, I like the way you think. I think you should run for president. I’m pleased I have the opportunity to come to Maui. Thank you for writing this article, and being the awesome and pleasant person you are.
Comedy Show With JP Sears
68 N Market St, Wailuku
Saturday, Jan. 5. 7:30pm
$38.50 (plus applicable fees)
Photos 1 and 2 by Brian Crawford Photography
Photos 3 and 4 by Diana Deaver Photography