The "Holding Hands with Strangers" prank coined by Andrew Hales and his LAHWF comedy group has gone viral, earning over 1.8 million hits in only a few days. Hales is a student at Utah Valley University.
The Holding Hands with Strangers prank pretty much consists of what you'd expect: Hales walks alongside others, slowly inching his way towards their hands until he makes contact. What happens next depends on the people, some of whom laugh, recoil in horror, or simply ignore him.
"There's always a few people that are uncomfortable with it and we always ask them afterwards if they want to be in the video," he told Hales told ABC. "We just come up with them like what would be funny to do and interesting to film and just what would be awkward in public, you know."
Hales and his group Losing All Hope Was Freedom— a line from the 1999 film "Fight Club"— haven't just stopped their pranks at hand-holding, though. They also filmed Hales holding doors open for people who are really far away, sitting down next to people he doesn't know, and just plain staring at people. The laughs at awkward everyday interactions come easily.
So far, LAHWF has made 12 videos, releasing one every Monday. Hales, a 22-year-old halfway done with his Bachelor's degree in communications, also raises money from the YouTube channel to pay for his education.
"It's been great," said Hales. "I've supplemented my income with the ads … I'm making a little bit of money from that and that's helped to pay the bills. It's cool."
He also has a few other ways to make money, like donating plasma and operating an Italian ice cart several times per month.
Hales success has several factors: LAHWF is consistent with videos once a week, they hired a professional video editor, and most importantly, they listen to their subscribers' comments.
"Next Monday we might just do a sequel, like 'Staring at People 2,' because that was pretty successful," Hales said.