“I stopped everything for eight months to devote myself to my field and get rid of algorithms a little,” laughs YouTuber Jigmé Théaux, “especially that of YouTube, the equivalent of the algorithmic god.” In the summer of 2020, this Périgord native bought a farm with his partner. Objective for the thirty-year-old: “to become almost independent by producing my own fruits and vegetables”. A new life of which he shares behind the scenes on his TikTok and Instagram account in short videos. “I show the harvests, my progress in the field or cooking recipes,” he describes. A daily life made of nature and video editing in this isolated corner of the Dordogne. A far cry from the time when the young man indulged in humor on YouTube to satisfy his 2 million subscribers.
His channel, named “clichés de Jigmé”, allowed him to broadcast his sketches for almost a decade. In 2012, Jigmé was a Chinese English LEA student in Bordeaux. He practices photography, the best photos of which he posts on his Facebook account. “But Instagram was emerging and making photography accessible to everyone, I wanted to develop other skills.” As a keen autodidact, the student launches into video. “I even had to go and shoot a documentary with my best friend in Bhutan,” he explains. In the meantime, however, Jigmé was offered a permanent contract at the Apple Store in Bordeaux, which he accepted. So the distant journey is gone but the passion for video remains. “At that moment, I saw in YouTube the possibility of building up a digital library to present what I know how to do,” he describes, “and what worked at the time were funny videos like those of Cyprien or Norman, so I'll give it a try too.
His Facebook page “les clichés de Jigmé” becomes a relay for these video publications. The YouTube channel takes the same name. “I decided to divert the clichés of everyday life and not just to offer a sketch in front of the camera,” continues Jigmé. Thus, the content creator is among the first to produce scripted humor videos where he includes other people. And the format pleases, subscribers follow. Some of his publications even reach 10 million views, such as those on “the sellers” or his video “if everything lasted six seconds”, which even exceed 13 million views. “In ten months, my channel started to work well.”
But, like many early YouTubers, Jigmé saw a turning point on the platform in 2016. “The YouTube algorithm is becoming more influential on content, you have to post regularly to be visible and to be able to make your channel work,” notes the young man. “However, posting two or even three scripted videos per week is not possible,” he continues. The same year, he launched a new channel dedicated to cooking. “My parents are restaurateurs and I have always had this passion, at one point I even wanted to open my own restaurant.”
At the same time, he created yet another channel to publish vlogs, videos where he shows his daily life. A “simpler” way to publish content regularly but which is not without causing a certain weariness. “Very quickly, it became redundant and I lost a little taste for my activities on YouTube,” explains Jigmé. “And then, I knew too many YouTubers who lost their bearings from trying so hard to pressure and focus on statistics.
Little by little, Jigmé stops his activities on YouTube. The last video for his comedy channel was from 2019 and from 2021 for his cooking channel. Her vlog channel is deleted. During this time, the videographer devotes himself to his new projects. “I trained in syntropic agroforestry, an agricultural technique which is based on high-density cultivation of various plants,” he says, “and followed by a CAP in cooking.”
Jigmé Théaux no longer spends his time editing but rather digging the earth, planting seeds and cooking. “This allows me to take the time, something we rarely do today in our modern society, and to get real satisfaction from what I produce.” The self-taught man sets himself several challenges, such as achieving self-production “within three to 5 years for vegetables and 7 to 10 years for fruits,” he specifies. And, in a few years, to renovate an old barn on the land to “perhaps turn it into a guest house”.
“Ultimately, it’s this project that makes me want to reconnect with video and communicate again about what I do,” continues Jigmé. The ex-YouTube tries out social networks that he knows less like Instagram and TikTok. “I had this slightly stupid side of telling myself that these are less good platforms, as others might have thought for YouTube at the time.”
Initially, without showing himself in the image, he shoots short videos where he polishes his pots or prepares dishes like beetroot pink rice. “I’m reconnecting with this aspect of “home made” videos, where we show little tips spontaneously. It’s a return to basics in a way,” he rejoices.
It is in one of his videos dedicated to a cooking recipe that Jigmé shows himself again. “That’s where the craze started,” he admits, “some subscribers recognized me at the end of the video while I was presenting a dish and they were intrigued to see what I became.” Since then, he has continued to show the progress of his vegetable garden and his work by filming himself in the first person.
He posts his videos on weekends, on TikTok, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter). From his cherry harvest to the preparation of jam to the clearing of his land, everything goes there. “I love the fact that Jigmé didn't wait to be made fun of by the youngest to change his life completely,” breathes a subscriber admiringly in comments.
A “new adventure” which allows it to form long-term partnerships with brands like Lidl, Acer or Orange, for whom Jigmé produces videos. “They equip me and I test their products. For certain tools sent by Lidl for example, I feature them in my gardening videos,” he describes. “I no longer have this pressure of having to regularly make a long video to be able to land a partnership. Now I’m building long-term collaborations, it’s much more pleasant.”
The videographer claims to have found “his balance”. And if his YouTube channel “les clichés de Jigmé” remains inactive at the moment, it could one day be reborn. “I am not putting aside a possible resumption on YouTube to present at greater length my tips for harvesting, cooking or a way of doing ecological renovation,” he notes. For the moment, in the absence of fiber allowing it to carry out this project, the Périgourdin is devoting priority to its land.