CLIFTON HEIGHTS, Pa. (AP) — Eddie Doyle wants to call himself a storyteller, but he thinks people will just say he’s a liar.
It’s tough going out there for raconteurs and troubadours today.
That is, except online, where Doyle’s videos about his Uber rides, his grandma, and whatever else comes to his head — like an epic anthem about the coronavirus — have earned him more than 700,000 followers across YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
A writer at heart, Doyle never expected video would become his first medium. But when a drunk Uber passenger coming from a private party on the Main Line passed out in his car and woke up so disoriented she tried to open his locked doors while they were driving down I-76, Doyle decided to equip his vehicle with a video camera — for his own protection.
But what started as a safeguard quickly turned into a source of inspiration. Doyle began taping his rides in 2016 and asked the most interesting passengers if they’d be OK with him putting the videos on YouTube.
At first, he asked riders to sing karaoke, but more and more he’s just letting them tell their own wild stories — and often, sharing some of his. After all, passengers seem curious about his experiences, even if they do tend to ask the same questions.
What’s the longest ride you’ve ever done?
“That would be to JFK International."
Has anyone ever puked in your car?
“There’s never been a direct vomit."
What’s your scariest encounter?
“That girl I picked up at the private party on the Main Line."
Doyle’s most popular Uber video — with more than 2 million views — is of the day he brought his mom’s puppy with him and watched hardened Philadelphians melt like wooder ice when he revealed her.
He’s gotten caught in the Philly Naked Bike Ride and once passed a man strolling along I-95 completely nude in broad daylight. He even picked up passengers at a rural South Jersey airfield once who let him drive his 2012 Honda Civic on the runway.
“That was probably the coolest thing ever,” he said.
Doyle’s compilation video of drunk Eagles fans the weekend before the Birds won the Super Bowl is pure Philly, and if you want to hear the most Delco story ever, Doyle’s frequent passenger — Delco Danny — has it for you. It begins with a fight at a Pearl Jam tribute band concert, and ends with a Tasering and Delco Danny getting thrown in the same police cell he’d installed vinyl flooring in the week before.
“Any ride with Delco Danny is just a pure Delco experience,” Doyle said. “He is a paying customer but it’s Delco, so I did go to elementary school with him."
Doyle, 32, of Secane, grew up in Springfield but in his junior year his family moved to Glen Mills (which he calls “fake Delco," because it’s fancy. Also included in “fake Delco” are Swarthmore, Radnor, and Chadds Ford).
After graduating from Temple University in 2010, Doyle worked jobs in radio — where he dressed as Buzzbee the bee mascot for B101.1 — and in addiction treatment research.
But he gave it all up to write his 2018 self-published memoir — I Hate You Jimmy — a buddy comedy about his friendship with fellow Temple grad Jimmy Curan, who uses a wheelchair.
“We had a ton of crazy experiences together,” Doyle said. “The book is, in part, about the way we treat people different than us.”
One of Doyle’s closest companions is his grandma, 89-year-old Virginia Tashjian, whom he lovingly calls “mom mom.” His videos of their conversations at her kitchen table in Springfield, or when he’s driving her to the grocery store or casino (where she enjoys beer and bloody Marys), have gained him more than 675,000 followers on TikTok since August.
“We have a very honest and genuine relationship,” he said. “You can see there’s nothing polite about what goes on between us.”
Tashjian’s one-liners to her grandson include: “When it serves me, I’m old, and when it serves me, I’m young” and “Don’t you ever go home?”
Because he spends so much time with his gram, Doyle stopped driving Uber as word of the coronavirus spread, because he didn’t want to risk getting her sick. It was then he began working on “Corona Remix,” a parody song of R. Kelly’s Ignition Remix, which features his grandma, a basketball in a plastic bag, and lyrics like: “It’s the remix to pneumonia, yeah they call it corona.”
Tashjian, who is aware of her social media stardom, said she loves how her grandson makes her laugh.
“He is the most funniest man on earth,” she said, before turning her attention to him. “Sometimes you do get on my nerves, but I love you just the same.”
Of all the experiences and stories Doyle has accumulated, he said the one that touched him most was an Uber passenger who’d just bought a rotisserie chicken platter she was so excited to eat. As they were stopped at a light, a man came up to his car, asking for money.
The woman gave the man her entire dinner.
“I thought ‘He’ll just throw it away. He wants money,’ but what she said was ‘I sure hope that young man eats it. It’s probably not what he wanted, but it’s what he needed,’" Doyle recalled. “Here I am thinking I got the world figured out, but she understands, too, and is doing this anyway.”
Meet Eddie Doyle, a comedian and Uber driver with more than 700,000 followers on social media.
• Driving force: “I decided to pursue writing, comedy, and making videos full time. That’s why I’m also an Uber driver.”
• Mr. Ed: “Sometimes I identify myself as Eddie and sometimes it’s Driver Ed. I think of it like Biggie Smalls and Notorious B.I.G.”