Stuart Edgington, known by many as Stuart Edge, has always enjoyed storytelling.
As a boy, he performed as a sailor in a school production of “South Pacific.” He grew up with a love of magic, often performing tricks, to the amazement of his friends and classmates. In 2012, his life took a monumental turn as his YouTube video “Mistletoe Kissing Prank” went viral. (It now sits on the brink of 28 million views.)
But the YouTube sensation has recently undertaken a new type of storytelling with a book he said he hopes will amaze and inspire people in a different way.
The book, "On the Edge: How My Crappy Job Changed My Life" (Cedar Fort, $14.99), gave Edge a way to tell his story of unexpected success. It touches on how he was able to turn difficult times from his youth (such as childhood anxiety, struggles with sports, his parents’ divorce and a few awkward dates, to name a few) into positive memories.
“Our experiences that we have from the time we grow up are there to help us become the people we are today,” Edge said in an interview. “I believe that every experience we have can be looked back on and be for our good. … I was going through a hard time in my life, and it was the experiences that I wrote about that gave me strength.”
One of Edge’s more trying times was, in a literal sense, what he refers to as one of the most "crappy" times of his life: He once worked as a cleaner for a portable-toilet company — or, as he writes in the book, as a “Biohazard Waste Disposal Specialist.” It was a job he didn’t want and didn’t enjoy, but he said he learned through the situation that sometimes timing is everything.
Edge said he wrote the book in hopes of inspiring others who may find themselves in a similar rut.
“Get up and move forward, trusting in your ability to make things happen, but then, also, trust that some things just happen in the right time," he said. "In those moments when you're having to wait — those crappy moments — just keep moving forward.”
A combination of patience, determination and personal faith in God helped Edge recognize opportunity when it came knocking. After being offered a job making marketing videos for an oral-hygiene company, Edge decided to start his own YouTube channel. In December 2012, the aforementioned mistletoe video was born. After receiving 1 million views during its first day online, the video was a worldwide phenomenon. Today, Edge has established himself as a YouTube star with nearly 2.5 million subscribers and more than 150,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter combined.
But Edge said it’s not all fun and games once you’ve gained that kind of popularity through social media. "On the Edge" also discusses the tremendous pressure and stress associated with fame. The 19 short chapters are an easy and motivational read, detailing how Edge has been able to keep smiling and maintain a positive attitude throughout his rise (and occasional stumbles) before the eyes of his millions of fans.
Of course, Edge acknowledges, you can’t hit it out of the park all the time. Some of his videos weren’t as successful as he’d hoped, and some have even backfired on him, as one chapter explains. Keeping a positive mindset and looking for a silver lining have helped Edge stay confident in the spotlight.
“It’s OK to mess up,” he said. “You’ve just got to recover. … Wake up every day and know that good things are going to happen. It's a new day. It's awesome. Beautiful things can happen to you today, or crappy things can happen, but they'll be for your benefit.”
When he isn’t traveling across the country making videos, dancing with strangers, pulling pranks, reverse pickpocketing and live streaming on Facebook, Edge said he lives a normal life “with some not-so-normal things popping up every once in a while” in Provo, Utah.
If you go ...
What: Stuart Edge book signing
When: Tuesday, May 24, 6:30 p.m.
Where: University Village Deseret Book, 1076 S. 750 East, Orem
When: Wednesday, May 25, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Salt Lake Downtown Deseret Book, 45 W. South Temple