Tommy Finton back in the spotlight with return to TV
A peek in the dictionary at the word “famous” serves up a simple meaning - “widely known.” It easily applies to Tommy Finton, one of Black Mountain’s most recognizable personalities.
Locally, the mustachioed man is known for his signature style and ever-present smile. He's pretty well known on the internet too. Known there as TommyNC2010, Finton has amassed more than 100,000 YouTube subscribers to his "vlog" (video blog).
Then there’s his penchant for popping up on network television, which he’ll do for the third time Tuesday, May 29 when he appears on a new episode of Comedy Central’s "Tosh.0."
“I don’t think of myself as famous,” Finton said this week inside Worldly Weiners Wings and Things, where he plans to watch the 10 p.m. episode in the adjoining Seven Sisters Tap Room. “I’d say I’m known.”
That is indisputable, though it's been a long time coming. His life began to change in 2010, while a student at Owen High School, when the MTV show “Made” filmed an episode at the school.
Finton waited in line to audition for the show, which features teens being coached to help them become something they aspire to be. When it was Finton’s turns, the show representative asked him what he did. “Impressions," Finton said.
“I immediately turned into the Joker (of Batman fame) and started laughing psychotically,” he said, chuckling. “She kind of jumped out of her seat. When she got herself back together, she said ‘what do you want to be?'”
Smiling widely, he said shrugged. "Oh, a filmmaker,” he said. He got on the show.
In a lot of ways Finton has been in character since, using his appearance on the show as a springboard to express himself creatively. “I’m an entertainer,” he said. “I like to create and inspire other people to be themselves and create their own stuff too.”
Finton launched his YouTube channel, TommyNC2010, that same year and began making video journals. He developed his craft by studying others in the vlogging world.
Since then, he and his handheld camera have become fixtures around Black Mountain, where he interviews people he meets in passing. That’s what he was doing in the summer of 2014 when he saw a car in a grocery store parking lot pulling out with eggs on the roof. Finton stopped the car and talked to the occupants.
“I dashed like a superhero to her car,” the description of the “Her Eggs Made Me Feel Like Batman” video states. The video, which has been viewed more than 300,000 times, caught the eye of "Tosh.0," whose researchers mine the internet for content.
Host Daniel Tosh, now in his 10th season on the air, often skewers participants with his sharp, often edgy, wit. That fact wasn’t lost on Finton when he received an email from the show in 2015 asking him if he wanted to appear.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. He had gotten used to displaying his gregarious personality in front of the camera - but not under the studio lights of a television set. He accepted the invitation and went to Hollywood.
“It was a totally different experience for me,” he said. “There were cameras and people everywhere. They have very specific things they’re trying to film.”
When the scene aired in May 2015, it was obvious that Tosh learned what many around Black Mountain knew - Finton is charming. Their work together was funny and portrayed Finton as a lovable guy doing a good deed by saving the eggs. People still call him “egg guy.”
“I really try to spread positivity,” he said. “I believe in doing good things for people.”
His appearance on "Tosh.0," which featured him and Tosh in matching Scout-themed uniforms, gave his YouTube channel a bump in subscribers. TommyNC2010 eclipsed the 100,000 follower mark last summer. It continued to gain notoriety when Finton landed an interview with one of his earliest inspirations, Doug Walker, a longtime YouTube personality.
“That was huge because he’s one of those people who I can say I wouldn’t even be doing YouTube today if I hadn’t discovered his videos,” Finton said.
Finton must’ve left an impression on the crew at "Tosh.0," because in April he got another email from them. A short time later he was on a plane, headed back to Hollywood.
“I showed up this time with a better idea of what to expect,” he said. “They get you there, get you in makeup, have you fill out some forms and then get you to the set. You won’t see Daniel until then.”
Finton was tight-lipped about the scenes he shot. He said he's feeling “a mixture of nervous and excited” waiting to see the episode.
“You just never really know what the final thing will look like,” he said. “I just hope it’s nothing that makes me look bad.”
It’s hard to say what’s next for Finton, other than a steady flow of videos uploaded to his channel. He could end up booking another big guest from the online community or appearing on another television show. He just wants to go where life takes him - and entertain people while doing it.
“To quote Wylie Burp from 'An American Tale: Fievel Goes West,'” he said, motioning to the mountains, “‘one man's sunset is another man's dawn. I don't know what's out there beyond those hills.’”