Many wonder what they can do to find a job they love. Yes, sometimes just sitting around and watching television with friends can turn into one of the biggest shows online. They watch everything with a viewer so a viewer can react when they react from tears to belly laughs. Simple is their forte. Their main audience they reach are those who need friends and a place to call home.
They do all this work to put on skits, reactions, and even video game challenges for their fans who usually are by themselves, looking for any kind of connection. Speaking your mind is big in this endeavor as well.
Community outreach has set them apart from many others in this digital streaming age. Many try to use technological platforms to “sell” their services. The Normies have turned technology to the forefront of their operation to give service to Indianapolis and across the world.
One fan named Amanda mentions how she thought of them as a family that understood what she liked in pop culture. The group began to receive gifts from fans including real swords modeled after the show Game of Thrones, Pops from every animated show it seems, and books. The Normies ended up crashing her wedding just because Amanda sent out invitations, thinking they obviously wouldn’t come, but they did.
Sitting down on their signature red couch in a rough part of town, Chief Operations Officer Marketa Ružičková and Chief Editor Micky Virdi discussed how they are just some of the members that make up a group called The Normies. The Normies say goodbye to the studio that really started it all and they shared the trials and tribulations of balancing fun, friendship, and creating a community where everyone is welcome.
“A normie is a diss given to people that just talk about or react to mainstream media,” Ružičková and Virdi said. The Normies were created for one purpose: ‘to cultivate a fun and friendly cyber-space so no one feels alone in the world.’ We just accepted the name as our own.”
Marketa Ružičková, 33, grew up in a small town in the Czech Republic. She studied to be an ESL teacher. Shortly after, she moved to Indianapolis as a part of a nanny exchange program. Joining The Normies is where she met her now husband, Chief of Creative Content, Chris Johnson, who is also a graduate of IUPUI.
Ružičková credits her love of organization to her history of teaching on becoming COO. She oversees the overall running of The Normies on a day-to-day basis. She only reports to Suraj Choudhary, the CEO and founder of The Normies. She has the job of looking over all the numbers including “mind-numbing charts” of what The Normies can do to afford certain events they want to do.
“Being a ‘normie’… I find it fulfilling, she said. That’s why I decided to do this full-time.”
The former frozen yogurt worker in Carmel and student at the Art Institute of Indianapolis, Micky Virdi, 34, realized early he had a knack for editing. He wanted nothing to do with carrying on the family business.
“I knew there was no way I was going to work frozen yogurt the rest of my life,” Virdi said. He had to go with what he thought he did well, creativity and being good with computers.
“I joined the group when we were called Talking Thrones and were just using Suraj’s bedroom as a studio,” Virdi went on. “Game of Thrones was definitely something I was in to and was big in pop culture at the time.”
Being Chief Editor comes with emergency editing mostly at this point but also helping their group of editors adjust and perfect up to eight videos a day anywhere between reactions and video game tournaments all shown live online. He mainly participates in the videos at this point. His work is a main reason The Normies have content to distribute to key platforms.
“First and foremost is our friendship,” Ružičková and Virdi said. “It’s hard to balance that.”
Those friends are every single member of their staff and they come from different backgrounds from the Czech Republic like Marketa Ružičková or as close as Indianapolis like a handful of other members, including Micky Virdi.
In an interview with WishTV, Rana Muhammad, The Normies’ Chief Marketing Officer, said, “we are just friends watching and reacting to television shows that are mainstream so we are like most other watchers in the case of knowing a little bit, but not knowing everything about a show like those here on the CW.” The CW airs on Channel 8, WishTV, here in Indianapolis.
That idea of being mainstream has seemed to relax the pressure a bit as a group because they have been growing fast, gaining 587 thousand followers as of April 25th just on YouTube.
The last piece of the puzzle is to connect with the audience, Ružičková and Virdi said. The Normies brought their content to major platforms such as Discord, Twitch, and Patreon along with the household names like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Discord is like a Facebook Messenger for gamers. Those with similar interests can create groups and subgroups depending on what each member wants to talk about. The Normies have over eight thousand members on its Discord with around 80 subgroups that talk about anything from politics in the world and NormieCon, their own miniature convention which comes up in August to just meet their fans. In one case, Ružičková and Virdi mentioned that a couple got married after meeting each other on their Discord server.
There were many willing to share their thoughts on The Normies just on Discord. Fans that go by HB and Dark Pineapple commented within minutes of the posting for volunteers to share their stories.
HB said, “I loved their reaction to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra. That’s when I first found out about them. They’re fun-loving and funny… [their videos] make my day!”
Patreon, who posted Amanda’s video on their YouTube page, shares all material made by The Normies and gives a member full access to their content earlier than YouTube would for a certain price per month. It is very similar to Twitch in this way. Access to the number of followers were not available. Patreon is their main source of income to do all the events and material their followers enjoy.
Twitch is an Amazon subsidiary that focuses on livestreams of gaming and chatting between gamer and their subscribers. The Normies have about 18.6 thousand followers on Twitch. That’s where they host gaming tournaments, podcasts, and live Q&A’s. It’s only $4.99 to join a month but that adds up with that many followers and or subscribers.
“Subscribers are the ones who pay, Ružičková laughed. I wish I could say we made that much money.”
The more people they have working for them, the more content they can create and the more time they can do everything they want to do. They sell merchandise like t-shirts, and pillows.
They want to expand in the years to come. Micky Virdi mentioned that in a decade or two, he could see The Normies as a huge operation and himself taking a backseat role with an expanded cast.
This all started with a couple of friends and a few Sundays watching television. Now, they have their own convention and even having other events that benefit local charities. They always have goals they would like to reach, but serving others is still their top priority.
The Normies have already done a month long “Just Dance” videogame-a-thon that raised money for cancer treatments and another stream session that raised nearly nine thousand dollars for Riley Hospital’s Pediatric Research and Patient Care, Maternity and Newborn Health and Family Support Programs. More are scheduled for just this year including an appearance at Indy Pop Con in June.
The idea of community first has been a focus for big cooperation’s, but many have failed at it. The Normies, by the numbers, have not failed but have succeeded in both raising money for non-profits and bringing a community of “normies” together.
They have now moved into a bigger and better studio in Greater Indianapolis thanks to their fans and now, friends. The entertainment may have changed over the years, but that old, red couch remains and The Normies will still watch, be there for those who need it and react with anticipation like everyone else to the best entertainment the world offers. New people are always welcome and there is a spot on the couch for anyone.