“I have a double-XL onesie that I located this summer, and I'm putting it to good use right now.”
Tory Bullock is sitting on his couch in Mission Hill, clad in the aforementioned onesie, sipping hot chocolate and drinking in his 15 minutes of fame. The story began Thursday night, when Bullock, 28, who teaches improv workshops at schools in Boston, received word that an impending snowstorm had prompted officials to call off school the next day. Seized by a fit of glee, Bullock recorded a 45-second freestyle to the “Rocky” theme song.
The Feb. 4 video — which as of this writing has nearly 60,000 Facebook views and more than 900 shares, and was featured on the website of NBC’s Today show — depicts Bullock cavorting through the dark, still-balmy Boston night in a cardigan and newsboy cap, riffing exuberantly to the music in his earbuds. “All of a sudden, I arrived at my home/ I felt a vibration, it was coming from my phone,” he chants. “So I picked it up to see what it was sayin’/ Said Tor-ay” — Bullock pauses for a beat, brow furrowed at his phone, then snaps his eyes up to the camera — “You got a snow day.” The music surges and Bullock skips in circles, arms open, a picture of pure, unfettered delight.
“SnowDay #2,” which was posted to Facebook Sunday night, Feb. 7, and currently has more than 14,000 views, situates itself firmly within the viral video epic that has since unfolded. This time Bullock is in his car, wearing a knitted cap and a scarf, while the score from Disney's “The Lion King” crescendos melodramatically. “I was gonna go to bed/ But the storm’s coming through/ You heard round one/ Now it’s time for round two,” Bullock snarls. His voice breaks with excitement, and at one point he laughs maniacally. The video ends in hymn-like rapture as Bullock croons, eyes scrunched shut, to the final euphoric moments of “King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life (Reprise):” “We have a sno-o-o-o-ow day/ Snow daaaaaay!”
“The inspiration,” for the first video, says Bullock, “was just pure joy. I really didn't think we were going to get any snow days this year, and we finally were getting one, so I was very, very excited.”
Performing comes naturally for Bullock, who teaches at Urban Improv, a Boston nonprofit that offers theater workshops to a number of schools. Bullock says that the videos have definitely earned him points with his students. "Not to toot my own horn, but I look very young anyway, so I'm already the cool teacher,” he says. “But this has definitely brought me up a level."
The videos offer a glimpse into an experience shared by teachers and students alike. “As a student, I loved snow days, but I didn't think that teachers had a life, or a social life, or they enjoyed snow days or days off,” says Bullock. “But being on the other side of the fence, I love snow days. And what's funny is that, the videos that I've made, the vocal response that I get is from other teachers."
This isn’t Bullock’s first foray into snow day-inspired rapping. Last year’s blizzards prompted a series of Facebook freestyles — though by the end, the novelty of so many days off had begun to wear thin. “The first one is so happy, and by the time you get to the last one — I believe I used the ‘Titanic’ theme song for that, because it was just so, you know, overboard," Bullock recalls.
This year’s songs have already begun to develop their own internal language. At one point in “SnowDay #2” Bullock holds up his phone to show a text that reads “Toray! You got a snow day!!!!” No one ever called him “Toray” before he anointed himself so in the Feb. 4 video. Art imitates life imitates art. Who knows where it will all end.
If nothing else, Bullock hopes that his audience will be inspired to likeminded fits of whimsy. "I just want people to acknowledge how amazing snow days are,” he says. “Because they can be used to do some really amazing stuff."
Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified Bullock as a teacher for the Boston Public Schools system. We regret the error.
This article was originally published on February 09, 2016.