By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 7, 2010; C01
A guy selling a product needs to dress the part, which is why David DeVore's uniform is a black collared shirt emblazoned with a zippy patch of his son's face and the phrase that made the younger David famous: "Is this real life?" The question is followed by a trademark symbol.
"I'm the dad who posted 'David After Dentist,' " DeVore says to an amiable trio of 20-somethings at a book party in McLean. "You know, the little loopy kid in the back seat of the car?"
Fifteen months ago, before the success of "David After Dentist," DeVore's business was Orlando real estate.
Now his business is his son, David. His six-figure business.
You know the kid. By now you've seen the 2009 video 10 or 12 times. By now you've memorized the dialogue of David, then 7 and fresh from a tooth removal, displaying the woozy effects of really good painkillers. "I have two fingers," he tells his father. "You have four eyes." Then, displaying wisdom repurposed by stoners everywhere, David goes deep. "Is this real life?" he asks. "Why is this happening to me?" The video has been viewed 56 million times on YouTube with 100,000 new views every day.
But the trio talking with DeVore does not know of this kid. They are, they say apologetically, visiting from Romania.
Ah. This explains it. "David After Dentist" merchandise has been shipped to 20 countries, but apparently not Romania.
DeVore was invited to this event -- the release of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Social Media Marketing" -- by author Jennifer Abernethy to share his exemplary marketing story.
On DavidAfterDentist.com, visitors can buy T-shirts ($20) and stickers ($5). They can watch the parodies, which include Darth Vader imitating David, and a Super Bowl commercial starring Beyoncé and David, promoting consumer electronics company Vizio.
All in all, with the licensing deals, the T-shirts and a YouTube ad partnership, the DeVores have amassed "in the low six figures," DeVore says. "More than $100,000." (This works out, by the way, to approximately $840 per second for the less-than-two-minute video). Around $6,000 of that has gone to the children's charity Operation Smile.
"We're all in," DeVore says cheerfully, of the business of David. "We've decided to embrace it."
Some YouTubers painstakingly craft thousands of "funny" videos, hours of footage designed to launch their Internet stardom. These people would hate DeVore. He tripped over fame with the first video he posted.
The back story: DeVore had bought a new camcorder around the same time that David had a dental appointment. His wife, Tessie, couldn't get out of a meeting, so DeVore made a post-surgical film to show her that everything was fine. He shared it on Facebook and then, several months later, learned of a site called YouTube and posted it there, too.
CNN called. The "Today" show called. Hordes of Web surfers called it the best video ever made and watched it more times than any other YouTube video in 2009, aside from Susan Boyle's quivering appearance on "Britain's Got Talent."
"It's been life-changing," DeVore says. "About four months into it, we realized there were going to be some opportunities to make some mon -- to monetize the situation." He has learned, it seems, the language of business.
DeVore runs the operation out of the family's spare bedroom while David and younger brother William are in school. He's just gotten back from media festival South by Southwest, and he'll soon be heading to ROFLCon in Boston. Stage parent? Nah. Just an entrepreneurial guy who knows a good opportunity when he sees it. The money will go toward David's college fund.
David loves the attention, DeVore says, and reached by telephone later, David, now 9, indeed seems pleased. "It's really fun," he says. "I've gone to places a lot more. As a matter of fact, I've been on planes more than when I was little. I've gone to New York twice. We're going to Boston, and I forget where the other place was." His classmates used to be impressed by him; now they are used to his celebrity.
One thing, though. David really hates when "people think my dad did it to make fun of me." In fact, David wants to make a follow-up video, in which he tells his side of the story and how the whole afternoon went down.
DeVore knows that it will be difficult for anything else they post to approach the success of "David After Dentist," and thus, "We're waiting for the right moment."