With offenses ranging from dissing TSA to impersonating Tupac, Remy Munasifi is one of YouTube’s most wanted.
Two years after his viral-video sensation “Arlington: The Rap” took a scalpel to the Arlington demographic—observing, among other phenomena, the local abundance of Starbucks and dudes in brown flip-flops—Remy Munasifi hasn’t moved on. The 31-year-old comedian still lives in Clarendon and still makes his living as a content provider for YouTube, posting videos on everything from the debt ceiling to Ramadan to his “udder-loving craving for 2 percent milk.”
The major hip-hop labels haven’t come calling (at least not yet), but he has landed a deal with Comedy Central Records, and the 51 videos he’s made so far have racked up more than 69 million views and more than 150,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/GoRemy). And, as we discovered over coffee and cupcakes at Bakeshop one recent morning, Munasifi—a law-school dropout who grew up in McLean, the son of an Iraqi father and a Lebanese mother—wouldn’t have it any other way.
Your original plan was to pursue a law degree. What happened?
I went to law school for one year, and it was [there] that I came across YouTube. I’d done comedy in college and it didn’t really seem like a realistic career path. Then I saw all these different people starting channels on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of views. A lot of the channels weren’t that good. I vividly remember sitting there, eating lunch in front of my laptop, thinking, “This is not that good. I am not good, too. I could be just as not-good as that guy.”
“Arlington: The Rap” specifically describes this place as “straight-up gangster” and a “straight-up thug town.” How concerned were you about some sort of retaliation?
I wear pink shirts. I fear everything.
Seriously, what is with all the dudes in brown flip-flops?
I’m still not certain. We should recruit a team of scientists to figure it out. I suspect the findings might prove the theory of morphic resonance.
On the subject of Ballston Common Mall, you once said, “It’s got everything but nothing good—it’s kinda like tapas.” Has it gotten any better?
I recently filmed a music video called “Why They Fought” at the comedy club there, so I will say yes! We had a blast hanging out there.
Your alter ego, Habib, stars in many of your videos, including the recent “Teardrops on My Kabob.” Is there a deeper message that you’re trying to convey through Habib?
He is a bit of a stereotype wrapped in a stereotype. I feel like he’s a stereotype mitigator. But there’s nothing preachy I’m trying to do. You’re never going to have Habib saying, “Overthrow this guy!” or “Vote Kerry/ Edwards!”
If we were to ask Habib the secret to good hummus, what would he tell us?
Step 1: Ask Mom to make hummus. Step 2: Repeat.
What is it you like about where you live?
I like that everything is walkable. I walk to the bank and walk to the post office and walk and get cupcakes. I love that aspect of it.
What’s more Arlington? A Prius or a Volvo station wagon?
Either one, but it’s being dragged by an Advanced Towing truck.
Christopher Durso is a magazine editor who lives in Arlington but does not own a single pair of brown flip-flops.