Tim Chantarangsu is killing it in these foodie streets. The YouTuber-comedian-entertainer has two web series on Thrillist, Acquired Taste and Send Foodz, and a web series on MTV, Basic to Bougie. MTV loves his style of humor and love for food, since he’s also on hit show Deliciousness, which has its second season premiering tonight.
I was excited to speak with Chantarangsu about his career, what fans can expect from this season of Deliciousness, and on a serious note, how he has been handling the year of anti-Asian racism as an entertainer with an influential platform. Deliciousness airs on MTV tonight (March 22) at 7 p.m. ET/6 pm. CT on MTV. MTV will also air Deliciousness episodes all week to celebrate the return of the second season.
MONIQUE JONES: Hopefully this is not such an awkward question, but I wanted to ask since we are both people who work in the media and sometimes it’s hard to deal and do what people expect of you when things are not going well. First, I wanted to say I’m sorry for everything that’s happening in the country for this past year and especially a few days ago. How has it been like for you as a comedian and as a performer to do work under this type of pressure to be funny when things are not very funny at the moment?
TIM CHANTARANGSU: Well, first of all, I appreciate that. Secondly, I think as a comedian and as somebody who tries to make the world a little better and just do my comedy and my jokes and my content, I definitely try and find the balance of when it is a good time to help people get their mind off things and when it’s a good time to actually address some topics and discuss things, you know?
For me, I actually try not to let things get too serious, ’cause I really do feel like I’m here to ease people’s minds and get their minds off the craziness of the world. But I also recognize that I have a platform and if I can spread some awareness about some topics that I feel like my audience might not necessarily know about, especially with all of the attacks on the [Asian] elderly and everything that’s going on with the Asian community, I was like, okay, let me use my following to just spread some information and educate some people on what’s going on.
MJ: Since this is supposed to be a funny show, let’s get back to the lighthearted questions. With the second season of Deliciousness coming up, what can fans expect?
You know, I’m super excited that this is back for another season. It’s been a blessing to be able to be on the show with such a great cast of people. For me, I think…the fact that I can sit on a couch with people and watch clips of fails, to be able to make jokes and that is my job, it’s a blessing. We’re going to have a good season, you’re going to see a lot of hilarious clips and hear a lot of hilarious commentary. It’s going to be a good time for everybody.
You have a lot of food-related content out right now, including your mukbangs on your channel. I recently saw one you did with KevOnStage involving crab legs, and even though I’m allergic to shellfish, I was like, “Man, I want some crab legs!” How did you get into doing mukbangs?
I avoided doing the whole mukbang thing for a while because I thought it was actually weird that people would actually sit and watch me eat and talk to the camera for an hour, you know?
And then it kinda just came. That’s the thing that I realized people really enjoyed. So it made sense for me because I mean, I love eating and I think one thing I am really good at is conversation, you know, people like to see me and a friend just sit down and talk and have a good time food. And the fact that I would [do] that consistently and the people would [enjoy it], it still trips me out a little bit, but it’s a good time, you know? And I think people that like watching mukbangs really enjoy the crab leg, lobster tail situations. They like seeing people take the meat out of the shell and dip it into the sauce. Those really do well.
You also have a show with MTV called Basic to Bougie and a show with Thrillist called Send Foodz. They’re both very successful, with both having numerous seasons. What’s it like being making food niche content and how’d you find yourself in this niche?
It’s a trip. It’s a blessing. You know, when I first started creating content, I was always a fan of food, eating, and restaurants, but I never actually thought about it being a part of what I’d do…I just kinda realized that I loved watching food-themed content, but there wasn’t a whole lot of it that was directed towards people in my age group or demographic. So, I thought if we make something for people who enjoy food, eating, restaurants, but we don’t necessarily know all the technical, fancy names for things, we just enjoy food. So I started doing that and then it just kinda opened up a whole different world of opportunities for me and now I can make it big off of eating.
Do you have any moments from your life that you think could be roasted on Deliciousness? Do you have any food fails?
I’m definitely an adventurous eater, not so much an adventurous cooker. I’m not a big cooker. I feel like if someone was trying to film me, trying to cook some food, you would definitely get some clips they could roast on Deliciousness, ’cause I’m not handy in the kitchen. I might follow a recipe here and there, but I’ve definitely had some food fails, kind of like what you see on the list, like people burning things, dropping things and a lot of drunk nights. I’ve had my fair share of those, too.
And it’s like, you have people burning things, dropping bags and a lot of drunk nights. And I’ve had my fair share of those too.
I was going to ask if you had any food fails with your new baby, but I saw from another interview that we now have the answer to that question. So I’ll switch it up and ask if you had any food fails when you were a kid with your parents, or if you experimented with food as a kid?
With my parents, there was always something happening. My parents owned a Thai restaurant for about 40 years, so there was always something going on. But I think the biggest food fails I ever really had is when I was home alone by myself just making my own food, you know, cause my parents had to be at work. So I remember one time specifically, I was trying to make some hot dogs and threw the whole bag of hot dogs and the microwave, not realizing that like the ink on the plastic would melt and the whole thing caught on fire. I tried to put the fire out and make sure the apartment didn’t burn down and throwing water on the microwave.
Did you get in trouble for that?
No, I got it taken care of before it got too crazy.
You’ve become famous from YouTube, gone to mainstream television and have sustained your stardom. Not many people have had that type of longevity. What advice would you give someone who said “I want to be the next Tim Chantarangsu?”
Yeah. A lot of the kids starting off on Youtube expect to just kinda pop off really quick, like they think it’s going to be an overnight thing. I get a lot of kids telling me, “Yo, man, I put up my first video last month. I’m not getting any views. What’s going on?” And I’m like, “Bro, I’ve literally been making content for over 10 years online, you know? And it was years before I really was getting views or even any money like that.
So I think the advice would be you gotta be consistent. You gotta be ready to really put in the time and effort just like any other job. And the internet is fickle, so you gotta be prepared to evolve with it because, you know, I’ve been around for a while online and I get a lot of people who look like its super popping one year and completely fall off the next year.
It’s been really cool to see your career grow so organically over the years.
Thank you, thank you. For me, it’s just been staying consistent and know what I want to do. I felt like if I just kept doing what I was doing and making the right moves and keep on going down my path and making baby steps that I would keep on moving in the right direction, you know, and that’s all I’ve been doing. I feel blessed that I’ve still been able to maintain it and do my thing after all these years.
Last question: You’re on the Deliciousness cast with some heavy hitters in pop culture, such as Kel Mitchell, who I spoke to today and it was a dream that I never thought would happen in real life. What has it been like to be on this cast with people who have been so important to pop culture?
Man. It was crazy because, I watched a lot of TV growing up, you know? So the fact when I was on stage for that first day and I was looking around and I’m looking like I was looking at, Kel and Tiffani and Angela, I was tripping out. These are people that, for every stage of my life, I’ve watched these people on TV. When I was a little kid, I was watching All That. When I was an even smaller kid, I was watching Saved by the Bell. As a grown man, I was watching The Office. I’m like, “Wow, I’ve got DVDs of all these people’s faces and I’m up here on stage with them.” It was definitely crazy and I was also like, “Wow, I’m here…Look where I’m at?”
*Interview edited for clarity