July 20, 2019 | 96° F

U. instructor experiences Internet fame

Photo by Courtesy of Matt Ferguson |

Matt Ferguson, the assistant director of University Student Life, dulls three razors as he gets his beard cut while filming his cover video of David Guetta and Nicki Minaj’s single “Turn Me On.” This is the first time in five years Ferguson dediced to go clean-shaven.

One man, six different faces and six different personas make a recipe for YouTube success.

This is the case for Matt Ferguson, whose recent music video interpretation of David Guetta and Nicki Minaj’s hit single “Turn Me On” garnered more than 670,000 views online.

Ferguson, the assistant director of Student Life at the University, posted the video on Feb. 8 and did not expect the video to get so many views less than a week after he posted it.

“We didn’t expect this to go viral,” said Ferguson, and adjunct instructor in the Department of American Studies. “We just made it for fun, thought we’d get a few hundred hits and that our friends would laugh. It’s blowing my mind.”

Ferguson, a Marlton, N.J. native and Somerset, N.J., resident, first got the inspiration for the video when he decided to go clean-shaven for the first time in five years, he said.

“Since this was a rare occasion, I looked at it as an opportunity to make a cool video with the beard theme,” Ferguson said. “A colleague had suggested that I come to work each day of the week with a new facial hairstyle, so I took the idea and ran with.”

Ferguson and his colleagues sat at a diner last Tuesday night discussing the idea. They started shooting the video an hour later, he said.

The video took five hours to shoot and a few more to edit, Ferguson said.

In between each take, Ferguson went to the bathroom to create his next look, using clippers, scissors and razors. He went through three razors working on the video alone, he said via email correspondence.

“[We] uploaded it to YouTube on Wednesday afternoon and the rest is history,” he said.

This is not the first video Ferguson has produced. Ferguson’s best friend Brian Bennett, freelance filmmaker and owner of Dynasty Films, has partnered with Ferguson on videos before.

“We do freelance work together from time to time, and he happened to be in town this week on business,” he said. “We’ve been making goofy videos like this one on the side for years.“

Many University students have seen the video and enjoyed watching Ferguson’s expressive, lip-synching comedy.

Ahmed Gewiley-Elbalky, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said the video was hilarious and memorable at the same time.

“Every time I hear the song I get an image of Matt Ferguson in my head singing to me,” he said. “I’m not sure if that’s a curse or a blessing.”

Paul Kania, a School of Engineering junior, enjoyed the concept of Ferguson’s video.

“I think that it gave me a new take on that song,” he said. “It also made me realize how awesome Matt Ferguson is and how an ordinary Rutgers staff member can become a YouTube sensation.”

Ferguson said he has received positive feedback from the video.

“I’ve been told I look like Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale and Jason Segal,” Ferguson said. “That’s flattering, but my ugly mug is definitely not anywhere near those guys.”

He said comments on websites like Reddit and YouTube have been flattering, disturbing, supportive and hysterical.

While Ferguson does not believe he is famous, he would not mind some television exposure.

“I don’t think I’m famous, but it would be great to get on ‘Tosh.0’ or ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show,’” he said. “I’d like to meet Nicki Minaj … or at least just see [her] tweet it.”

Ferguson has gained many Facebook friend requests, Twitter followers and mentions because the video flashes his Twitter handle “@RUFerg,” he said. Guetta mentioned the video on Twitter Friday morning, Ferguson said.

People have dubbed Ferguson “Mattstache,” a name Bennett coined, he said.

Blogs reports on the video have also helped it pick up steam, which adds to the number of people around the country and world viewing it, he said.

“I think we’re well past friends and friends of friends [viewing it],” he said. “The blogs like ‘The Daily What’ [have] picked it up, so it’s great.”

Ferguson earned his bachelor’s degree at the University in 2005 and his master’s degree in 2008, he said.

Ever since he was young, Ferguson said he had a passion for performing, theater, music, stage management and video, he said.

Ferguson manages the RutgersZone in the Livingston Student Center, advises on-campus theater groups, assists with New Student Orientation and plans various large-scale campus events.

He also teaches courses in urban and suburban history and American culture in the Department of American Studies, he said.

He is unsure of his next move but thinks if people like what he and his friends are doing, they will make more videos.

“I didn’t do it for money, and I’m not really looking for a career as a YouTube star,” he said.

While Ferguson did not make the video for compensation, he would love to act or work in the entertainment industry.

“If it led to other opportunities, I’d be interested,” he said in an email. “I’ve got more than just funny faces up my sleeve.”

By Richard Conte

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