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The story of Dude Dad: The internet celebrity of Fort Collins

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Oct 31, 2022

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Building a 14-foot "Stranger Things" Mind Flayer for the front lawn. Transforming a kid’s toy car into a mini version of the "Back to the Future" DeLorean. Spoofing nearly every stereotype about Colorado transplants. It’s all part of the job for a Fort Collins dad, which you might have seen on social media by an alliterative name.

“My name is Taylor Calmus but most of the world knows me as Dude Dad,” Calmus said, sitting in his garage surrounded by former projects.

Dude Dad is a family-humor-based comedy channel on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

The story of Dude Dad: The internet celebrity of Fort Collins

“We have around 6 million followers collectively over all of the platforms,” Calmus said.

You might recognize Dude Dad from his “Lives Two Weeks in Colorado” video where he spoofs our state’s stereotypes, of the “Husbands of Target” collaboration, all about a group of men who bond while their wives shop.

“There’s no better gig than to make content with your best friends every day,” Calmus said.

But like fatherhood, the journey to Fort Collins and the following he has now was not easy. Dude Dad started as a YouTube comedy channel on the side while Calmus lived in California.

“When we met, he said he wanted to support himself and his family off his creative endeavors,” his wife Heidi said.

But that idea quickly came face to face with the reality of life as Calmus juggled multiple jobs, trying to support his young family.

“I started working set construction for TV and movie sets. I was still auditioning, still doing Dude Dad, trying to be a good father and husband, and working three days of construction every week,” he said. “I broke down and told Heidi ‘I can’t handle this. I have to cut something out of my schedule. I have to stop doing something.”

The logical place to cut was his passion project.

“At the time Dude Dad wasn’t making any money. But without any hesitation, Heidi said, ’You can’t stop doing Dude Dad. You have to keep doing that. There’s something important there that you need to keep doing,'” Calmus said, tearing up.

That support kept the project alive. But it would require a bit of a relocation. The choice was Fort Collins, Colorado.

“We had friends in Fort Collins, so we kind of just bought a house, sight unseen, and did it,” Calmus said.

Now, most days are filled with family and family-based content creation. If you’re looking for a local connection, Dude Dad commonly posts videos of wake surfing on Horsetooth Reservoir or out with his family at New Belgium Brewery.

“I have become a very busy guy,” Calmus said. “But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

He estimates that between himself, his wife and kids, and friends Matthew Berkenpas and DJ Cosgrove, Dude Dad now releases one to fourteen videos per week on various social media platforms.

Between those videos, brand deals, merchandise, a book (called “A Dude’s Guide to Baby Size”), and a TV show on Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network, the Calmus family has successfully turned Dude Dad into a full-time job.

“I’m one of the fortunate ones that turned something that I love to do into a way that I can also feed my family,” Calmus said.

“Proud would be an understatement,” Heidi said about her husband. “When you see your best friend, your partner in life doing what they love and inspiring other people, I don’t know if life gets better than that.”

You can find more Dude Dad content on YouTube.