What’s the worst thing that could go wrong during Jerma985’s next livestream in front of hundreds of thousands of internet strangers? “I get diarrhea and can’t umpire,” he told Kotaku in a recent interview. Twitch’s notorious online jester is pulling his most elaborate stunt yet: officiating a real baseball game at an undisclosed location between the fictional California Circus and the Maryland Magicians. But it doesn’t take Jerma long to realize that shitting his pants isn’t actually the worst thing that could happen. “Maybe not. No. Thunder and lightning is actually probably the worst thing…or like a serious injury.” The internet star and his producer have been trying to make this happen for years, and a rainout or medical emergency is one of the few things that could ruin it.
That’s because things going off the rails is kind of the point of a Jerma livestream. Like a lot of Twitch performances, viewers crave unexpected moments. The kind that can make the chat lose its collective mind, get clipped and re-shared, and proceed to fizz across the internet like lightning in a bottle. Almost exactly a year ago, Jerma created just such a sensation after pulling over a million Twitch viewers into his lifesize “Dollhouse” to take control of his life. The social media experiment was part The Sims, part The Truman Show, letting bystanders wreak havoc on his imagined life inside a studio set by deciding when he ate, slept, used the bathroom and more. It was a huge success, and demonstrated Jerma’s knack for manufacturing moments that feel authentic and spontaneous despite the incredibly contrived setting. Also he’s just a really funny guy.
What people know about Jerma is that he gained popularity on YouTube for his Team Fortress 2 videos in the early 2010s. He transitioned to Twitch in the later half of the decade, streaming games like The Sims and Dark Souls. While he still regularly streams new games and Just Chatting sessions, he’s since branched out into much more ambitious projects. In 2019 he held a livestream that let viewers in the Twitch chat play real carnival games by remote-controlling drones. In early 2021 he went out into the desert and pretended to unearth a made-up trading card fad from the 1990s and then convinced his fans to go along with the charade and propagate it across the internet. Then, earlier this year, he held a game show livestream to interview contestants to see who would replace him. An actor named Ryan Manuel, playing character number 13, won and later streamed Destiny 2 on Jerma’s 1-million-follower Twitch channel. Most of all, he thrives on the drama of committing to a bit over the long haul.