A 71-Year-Old Pianist Is the New King of Video-Game Streaming Site Twitch

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Bernie Katzman.

Twitch, the platform for anyone playing competitive video games in front of a live audience, is also the platform of choice for a 71-year-old professional pianist named Bernie Katzman. His channel, where he plays song requests for subscribers or anyone who throws in a couple of bucks, regularly gets a few hundred viewers. But on Tuesday night, Reddit discovered him: Suddenly, he had nearly 90,000.

Bernie, who lives in Florida but is originally from New York City, has been posting songs on YouTube for years, but got into Twitch in mid-2015. By early January, he’d built up a modest following of 37,000. Today, that’s up to 137,000, and they view Bernie as a kind of Bob Ross–like friendly cult hero.

He’s unfailingly cheerful and gracious, and when he says he’ll play all genres of music, he does mean all genres. If an affable senior citizen riffing on anime theme songs and music from the very weird cult-video-game hit Undertale isn’t the best thing on the internet right now, it’s close. And does he Rickroll? Do you even have to ask?

Wednesday morning, as Bernie’s channel replayed the highlights from the night before, hundreds of commenters filled his Twitch chat, waiting for him to go live again. On the replay of last night’s show, he kicks his legs and sings Sinatra’s “New York, New York” while a steady stream of new donations and subscribers scrolls across the screen.

If Bernie can make it on Reddit, he can make it anywhere.