YouTube comedian Ryan Tan walks us behind the scenes of his popular channel Night Owl Cinematics
By Pamela Chow
Ryan Tan (second from left) at the Volvic Extra Mile Challenge last month.
On screen, Ryan Tan is “Xi Guay Ong”, a crybaby character sporting a watermelon helmet and miming gags. His specialties include being bullied, shoved, thrown under the bus and scolded by other characters.
But when the cameras of YouTube channel Night Owl Cinematics (NOC) stop rolling, Ryan is in charge.
He runs the comedy channel with his wife, Sylvia Chan, poking fun at topics like Asian culture and relationships for a following of almost 460,000 subscribers. The couple was recently listed in Forbes Asia’s “30 Under 30” list.
Ryan also recently participated in the Volvic Extra Mile Challenge. In this exclusive interview, Ryan reveals his secret puppetmaster role in NOC, Sylvia’s habits and more.
Do you like to work out?
Ryan: I don’t have much time to work out for the past 3 years. We have a 1kg weight at home. That’s about it.
What motivated you to achieve your goal for the campaign by Volvic?
As someone who doesn’t work out regularly, I definitely felt like a champion after finishing the 10.5km run, having pushed past my own physical and psychological limits.
I don’t think I could’ve run even a single step if my NOC friends were not there to support and run along with me. It was very tough but I am glad we got through it together.
Congratulations on making it to the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list with Sylvia! Do you remember where you were when you received the news?
My dad texted me and he seemed very proud of me. I was overwhelmed because it was Forbes and we technically made history!
Ryan is known for his portrayal of “Xi Guay Ong” in Night Owl Cinematics’ videos. (Photo: teenage.com.sg)
Which character from the NOC videos is your favourite, and why?
“Xiao B*tch” played by my wife, I wish she’d play the character more often. She creates all our characters; our most recent character Sebastian is also funny.
How do you personally deal with haters and crisitism from your viewers?
Have you heard the couple and a donkey story? When they both rode on the donkey, passerby criticised that they abused the animal, when they walked with the donkey, passerby commented that they were stupid to not make use of their resources.
When the wife sat on it, people said she was a high-maintenance spouse; when the husband rode the donkey, they said he did not take care of his wife.
The point is whatever you do, as long as we are public figures, people are going to criticise [us]. We have learned to do what makes us happy and ignore the naysayers.
Could you share with us about a period in your life you personally found the darkest or most challenging? How did you overcome it?
Before I started doing videos, at the age of 22, I was in major debt for a failed food business. It was scary and I was at a total loss.
Luckily, my wife Sylvia encouraged me to pursue my dreams and now it is my career and I am very happy. I guess everything happens for a reason!
What’s one thing that you’re good at, which people are often surprised by?
People usually know me as my silent and shy character Xi Guay Ong. But I actually run the whole company (with Sylvia), I am in charge of social media campaigns, the graphics, video edits, and I am also the person behind the camera at every shoot.
I am also very good at gaming.
Ryan and his wife, Sylvia Chan, run the popular Night Owl Cinematics YouTube channel. (Photo: socialyte.co)
As a couple, do you and Sylvia nag at each other?
We seldom nag at each other, which is pretty good. Initially we argued a lot but we have learned to departmentalise different areas to be in charge of.
She only nags at me for when my desk is very dirty or when I wet the bathroom floor, small things about hygiene because she is very OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Everyone in NOC knows she is OCD.
What is the most romantic thing you’ve done for Sylvia, or that Sylvia has done for you?
I guess it’s her loyalty and faith in me even through my toughest times. She always says that it will be two of us against the world. It’s a very nice feeling. I do the same for her too!
While I was on the Volvic Extra Mile Challenge Run, Sylvia was constantly on my mind – she was the one who kept me going! Without her support, I don’t think I could ever complete this arduous running journey.
If you could travel in time, when would you travel to and why?
To the future definitely. I want to see what new cool technology is there going to be in the future.
If you weren’t a YouTube comedian, what would you be doing for a living?
Still [something] video related. I started out as a video editor then a cinematographer and these areas are where my passion lies.
What upcoming projects and events can fans look out for?
We are launching our gaming channel! It’s called NOC Plays and we are very excited to be working with big gaming brands like Blizzard, PlayStation and Razer. We are super avid gamers so this is super exciting for us!
Watch Ryan Tan on Night Owl Cinematics’ YouTube channel.