KOTA KINABALU: Local Grab driver Saulus Gimpun never expected to become a social media sensation when he began posting funny videos of himself trying to communicate with foreign tourists.
Saulus, popularly known as Tumatik, only intended to show the comical side of his language barriers, particularly with English.
As it turns out, though, his brand of humour took social media by storm, winning him a legion of fans overnight.
“I only had about 1,000 friends on Facebook before, but this grew to over 155,000 followers now. It’s unbelievable. I never imagined it would be like this,” he told FMT.
Saulus, who became a Grab driver in 2017, decided to set up an official Facebook page last June after the tremendous support for his videos.
The fourth of 10 siblings from a farming family in Kampung Dudar, Kota Belud, now has endorsement deals with local and even internationally linked businesses who are lining up to book him for their promotional videos.
“People want me to promote their services or products, from eateries to even slimming machines,” he said, adding that he has up to 50 bookings which he has yet to tackle.
Besides his encounters with foreign tourists, Saulus also has videos of various attempts to impress women passengers and even one of him greeting a passenger as “bro” before discovering that it was in fact a local assemblyman.
But not many can tell from his videos that Saulus’ humorous approach to passengers has a darker side to it.
Saulus’ enterprise began when he discovered that his girlfriend at the time had another man in her life.
When he told her to make a decision, she picked the other man.
“She said, ‘I pick him because he has a better job.’ That was like a dagger straight to my heart.
“That’s when a lot of things started running through my mind, including whether I should kill myself.”
Saulus spent a year feeling depressed. But with support from his family and friends, he eventually took a different view of the situation.
Drawing from his experience, he thought of doing something to cheer up others who might be going through a difficult spot of their own.
“I am a quiet and shy person by nature, but I’ve always wanted to entertain and make people laugh.
“I turned to laughter and comedy as a way to forget my unhappiness. Initially, I did not think of posting the videos recorded on the safety camera in my car, but when I saw how they made me laugh, I thought, ‘Why not?'”
His intention was only to cheer people up, but he quickly found himself gaining popularity on social media.
Despite his fame, though, things for him continue in much the same way they always have.
“I am still the same person I was before, only with more friends now,” he said.
“I am ever ready to make people laugh. That’s why my nickname is Tumatik, which is derived from the word ‘automatic’.”
And about the former flame who unknowingly influenced the start of his career in comedy?
“We don’t need to go into who has the bigger regret now,” he said. “What’s important is that people are entertained, and I hope she is too, if she ever watches my videos.”