In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, or so Andy Warhol told us. That was pretty much a lie. But in fairness to Andy he probably couldn’t have predicted going viral. Today, people are fragmented into pockets of fame for all kinds of reasons. Celebrity isn’t just for gilded people on the coasts, it’s attainable by anyone, anywhere, anyhow, and you can get it even 30 seconds at a time.
That, of course, comes with it’s ups and downs. Not everyone makes money being famous. Some people turn out to be the subject of envy or hate. Others get blamed for things they can’t control, like the weather. And still others simply become infamous for just trying to make a point and have a little fun along the way.
Christiaan’s guests on this edition of Out to Lunch Acadiana occupy their own corners of fame. Out here, people call it “Lafayette Famous,” but the idea applies wherever people make headlines or memes.
In Sydni Dupre’s world that means being TikTok famous. Sydni, originally from Sulphur, lives in Lake Charles, and has built an audience of hundreds of thousands of followers — many around the world — who peer into a window of her life. She uses her piece of fame to be a disability advocate. She has Friedrich’s Ataxia, a neurodegenerative disorder not unlike ALS or MS. In short clips of her day-to-day life — making coffee, griping about her boyfriend — Sydni normalizes her otherwise very normal and charming life.
You can’t talk about “Lafayette Famous” without talking about meteorologist Rob Perillo. Rob’s been in the business in this market for three decades and achieved a kind of metaphysical, cult fame. He’s not just famous for being on TV and controlling the weather, he’s famous for being Rob Perillo. There are all kinds of memes and tributes to him sprouting on the internet. Put another way, around here, he’s beloved, except when the weather is bad.
OK, speaking of memes and undeserved backlash, comedian John Merrifield is maybe not so much known by name than by reputation. He founded the CajUUUN Memes Facebook Page in 2016, which is a kind of exchange for off-beat, irreverent and subversive jokes about Acadiana and the Cajun experience. He’s a Lafayette native but he transplanted to New York City to work the comedy scene there. He made a big splash locally in 2020 with some satirical internet pranks designed to “make a fool of the fascists” in local government. For his service, he was sued and became equal parts anti-hero and local villain.