In a new interview with Rolling Stone tied to his upcoming film Bros, Billy Eichner essentially admitted that he won’t ever be going back to Billy On The Street—his internet video series that became a full-length TV show that then became a not-full-length TV show—but not because he’s a big-shot actor and screenwriter now (or at least not explicitly because of that).
The premise of Billy On The Street was largely summed up by its title, with Eichner running around the streets of New York with a microphone and a camera, putting people on the spot with hard-hitting prompts like “name three white people” or presenting them with trivia questions that were really designed to let him share his wide-ranging pop culture opinions. Basically, the show was designed to be a trap, both for random passersby and for Eichner’s celebrity guests, and the game of it was seeing how people (and Eichner himself) react to the trap.
Of course, as Eichner noted to Rolling Stone, the entire show is “obviously” not “COVID-friendly,” since it’s all about getting right up in strangers’ faces, screaming “Denzel Washington was not in The Phantom Of The Opera,” and then presenting Lena Dunham with some kind of hilariously unwieldy prize. There’s a lot of opportunities there to get particles on somebody.
Anyway, Eichner says that he might bring it back some day for “special occasions,” but he has “moved beyond it creatively.” But it really seems like that’s less about his movie career and more about the fact that he started doing it nearly 20 years ago. “People don’t realize but the first Billy On The Street-style video I made was for my life show in September of 2004,” he told Rolling Stone. “It predates YouTube!”
Eichner also mentioned that he knows Billy On The Street clips have been blowing up on TikTok, which really does seem like the ideal modern format for this kind of comedy. Everybody’s always screaming about naming three white people on there.