There are some things that you just can’t unsee. Dave Walpole in a Princess Leia outfit straddling a faux Death Star and licking a lightsaber while singing a parody of Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball is one of them.
But apparently, the combination of disgust and curiosity that some feel after watching the parody is exactly what the Hamilton comic/actor is looking for. If nothing else, it’s memorable.
“And you think you’ve got it bad? There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being in a room with just you and your cameraman, licking a saber and looking up at him,” Walpole told CBC Hamilton.
The parody is part Weird Al Yankovic, part Steve Kardynal — whose Chatroulette version of Cyrus’s hit has amassed over 100 million hits on YouTube. Walpole’s version hasn’t reached that kind of upper-stratosphere online success, but it is creeping towards 10,000 views in four days.
'YouTube is the new vaudeville. It's taking over.' - Dave Walpole
The video’s set was built in two days in a decidedly DIY way, by collecting dozens of boxes from LCBOs around Hamilton. This was easier said than done, considering it took four or five trips in his Nissan Versa.
Then came the arduous task of spray-painting them. Outside. In the middle of last month’s ultra-frigid polar vortex temperatures.
Between the set building, crafting a falsetto to mimic Cyrus’ voice, and the awkward, unavoidable bulge in the slave Leia costume, filming this thing wasn’t an easy process. But it’s all worth it to capture viewers in YouTube’s growing audience, Walpole says.
“YouTube is the new vaudeville,” he said. “It’s taking over.”
“There are more people there than at a comedy club.”
The west Mountain resident began acting in high school, and is a die-hard fan of George Lucas’ most famous franchise. His initiation into the world of Star Wars came at age seven, when he and his brother watched all three original films in one sitting.
Then they started collecting the toys and action figures. As he's gotten older, his appreciation for the characters has only increased, he says.
"I've always been inspired by how people can relate to it, the whole talk between good and evil," he said. "I think that's real in society. I think there are good and bad people out there."
The franchise, he said, is "something people dream about and think about consistently."
Little sleep, many auditions
Walpole is still growing his acting resume. He spent three years working as an entertainer on Caribbean cruise lines, and when he returned to Hamilton two years ago, he devoted his time to acting. He works as a night security guard on film sets, grabbing a couple of hours sleep before he travels to daytime auditions, most of which in Toronto.
His credits so far have included a number of commercial gigs, an independent film called The Volunteer and Magic, a steampunk web series based in Toronto.
In November, he landed a small, non-speaking role on Dumb and Dumber To, the second installment of Jim Carey and Jeff Daniel’s famed comedy.
For more from Dave Walpole, visit his YouTube channel.