The “reality-escape-artist” discusses favorite YouTubers
As someone who was once described as the “ultimate escape artist” by a cool aunt, I’m truly surprised that I have never talked about YouTube online.
Anytime I’m looking for something to watch during lunch, before bed, while cleaning the bathroom, etc., I turn on YouTube. It’s probably the internet place I spend the most time and is home to some of my favorite public figures.
I don’t think many older folks (who happen to be my largest demographic — thanks mom and dad) truly realize how much there is on YouTube. What once was a site for odd viral videos like Charlie Bit My Finger and clever music videos like Ok Go’s Here It Goes Again is now a fairly well put-together platform where creators can post content, build sizable communities, and earn a living doing so — YouTube even offers premium, ad-free subscriptions now.
In fact, YouTube has been a gold mine for some creators in recent years. In 2017, Forbes estimated YouTube-veteran Lily Singh’s net worth at $10.5 million — she now has a late-night talk show on NBC and nearly 15 million subscribers. “Cancelled” youtube star and makeup mogul Jeffree Star uses his YouTube channel with 16.9 million subs to promote his makeup line — Forbes estimates he’s worth $17 million. And, possibly YouTube’s most infamous creators, the Paul brothers — Jake and Logan — are both estimated to be worth upwards of $15 million and have a combined total of 42 million subscribers. This is despite careers made up of controversies — Jake’s laundry list includes racist slurs and property destruction and Logan’s features filming a real dead body in Japan’s Aokigahara forest.
However, YouTube also features “smaller” (if you consider having millions of views per video small) creators who manage to both generate consistent content and stay out of trouble. While they most likely aren’t millionaires, they’re able to do YouTube full-time and earn a living.
Those are the YouTubers I’ll be talking about today. Although you don't see them in the news all the time, they’re out there making entertaining videos on a wide array of topics. Here are my favorite creators on the site and some recommendations on where on their channel to start. (Disclaimer: The videos I recommend will all contain explicit language that might not be suitable for children.)
Drew’s channel has been my favorite on YouTube for a very long time. He is one of the only YouTubers who has ever made me laugh out loud, and he does so on a consistent basis. Drew does commentary on different subjects depending, much like my own articles, on what he’s interested in at the time. Topics range from internet drama to bad movies to the obsoleteness of cable TV.
And, although commentary is an arguably overdone genre on YouTube, Drew puts his own spin on his videos that I think sets him apart from others. Typical commentary is cut in with creative sketches, Microsoft Paint masterpieces, and the funniest ad-reads on the platform (at least, in my opinion).
I seriously cannot recommend Drew enough. The topics he talks about are so varied that I really believe anybody could enjoy his content, and stopping by his channel always makes me happier, even if it’s for just 20 minutes.
My top recommendations:
I Think I Found The Weirdest Christmas Movie
I Joined Team 10 So You Don’t Have To
Most known on the internet as being “Kombucha Girl” on TikTok, Brittany Tomlinson (whose handle on everything is Brittany_Broski) has an amazing YouTube channel. Watching Brittany’s videos feels like hanging out with your funniest friend. You can chill with her while she struggles to make green bean casserole and lemon bars, watch her try out a new makeup look while drunk, or watch her taste-test coffee — and it’s all wildly enjoyable.
I found Brittany just a few months ago, but her videos are now my go-tos when I need cheering up, a distraction, or just a good laugh. She’s hilarious and has enough personality to share, even if she’s just hanging out by herself.
My top recommendations:
Drunkenly Making Green Bean Casserole at 8PM
Becoming the 2013 Tumblr Girl of My Dreams
Manically Making Lemon Bars at 6PM
This channel is like if Netflix’s true crime documentaries were YouTube-themed. J Aubrey does deep-dive videos, mostly on controversial internet figures, that are so very fascinating. J’s (I’m pretty sure his name is Jonathan) videos walk the line between investigating serious topics and comedy gracefully, all while giving you more dirt than you could ever imagine. Whether or not you’re fluent in YouTube drama, I promise you’ll find J Aubrey’s content interesting — like his video on ImJayStation, the YouTuber who tried to fake his girlfriend's death for views, is interesting to all audiences. Yes, that really happened.
Aubrey’s videos are exceedingly well-researched, compelling, and more than enough to fill an afternoon — or maybe just your lunch break.
The Disturbing Truth of Family Channels | The 8 Passengers Saga
Bo Burnham: Laughing Through the Pain
The Sinister Tale of ImJayStation
Although many of Jake’s videos center around video games, which are not my forte — unless you count Animal Crossing — he’s still a favorite of mine.
No matter the topic, Jake’s videos are so fun to watch. Delivered on a gray yoga ball in front of a green screen, Jake manages to cover everything from Illegally Downloading Music to Horror in Video Games with “organized chaos:” his videos are thoroughly researched with coherent narratives, incredible editing, and hilarious jokes, but there’s still an element to his delivery, timing, and subjects that makes you think he’s pulling all of this out of his ass. For example, his video focused on Beer in Video Games that he delivered while pounding through a 12-pack of Coors Light and drunkenly falling off his yoga ball.
Jake’s channel is fun, relentlessly charming, exceedingly midwestern — in the best way — and gives off major “best friend’s cooler older brother” vibes.
My top recommendations:
High School Didn’t Matter At All
Founded by the two guys behind Buzzfeed Unsolved (another binge-worthy YouTube production) is a brand new production company. Created by Buzzfeed employees Ryan Bergara, Shane Madej, and Steven Lim, Watcher has some of the weirdest, and most wonderful, content on the website.
For example, Puppet History teaches audiences about the weirdest stories from history — like that time in France a whole bunch of people danced until they died — via puppets. Narrated by “The Professor,” each episode ends with a comedic — and wildly catchy — musical number from a prominent player in the story. Or there’s Too Many Spirits, where Shane and Ryan return to their ghostly roots and read fan-submitted ghost stories while getting progressively drunker. The first episode is fun, and the fourth (the drunkest) is an absolute shitshow.
No matter which show it is, and the channel has a fair few, Watcher’s videos are full of heart and fiercely entertaining. Although, to be completely upfront with you, I think I would adore anything Shane and Ryan created.
My top recommendations:
Ryan & Shane Get Even Drunker & Read More Ghost Stories • Too Many Spirits
Surviving The Titanic: History’s Luckiest Woman • Puppet History
Shane vs. Ryan: High-Speed Kart Racing • Weird Wonderful World
Gus Johnson’s channel mainly features sketches that are completely all over the place. There’s his “God’s Country” series where he goes around his backyard with his mom behind the camera and essentially just annoys her. Or there’s his Imbiamba Jombes series, where Gus embodies what the first three Indiana Jones movies would be like if Indy acted like a toddler the whole time. Or there’s the one where he asks the question: What if John Wilkes Booth had sneezed on that fateful night in Ford’s Theatre?
Gus also does longer commentary videos from time to time which are, again, completely all over the place. Like the video he dedicated to investigating the number of jalapeno stems that come on a Subway sandwich — which he did dressed in scrubs. Also, his podcast with his roommate Eddy Burback (aptly named The Gus and Eddy Podcast) is worth a listen — or, more appropriately, a watch. He’s also made some really cool stuff with Comedy Central on YouTube.
Seemingly a jack-of-all-trades, Gus’s channel is hilarious, weird in all the right places, and, somehow, subsequently brilliant. I highly recommend you check him out.
My top recommendations:
The world’s most dangerous fast food training video
Cody Ko and Noel Miller
Although these two still have separate channels where they make separate content, it’s impossible for me not to group them together because of their many side ventures. I’ve been watching Cody and Noel for years. Although they’re best known for their “That’s Cringe” videos, there’s really nothing in the world these two couldn’t do.
Cody still uploads commentary videos pretty consistently on his channel, but he also streams on Twitch fairly often and has a new show — dubbed Sweet Tooth — where he tries desserts around LA with a different person each week. Noel now does everything from commentary to highly-produced sketches, to directing short films and music videos to regularly streaming on Twitch.
And, of course, the pair has a comedy podcast Tiny Meat Gang, and makes music under the same name — it’s pretty good, if I’m being honest. Noel has also recently started making music on his own.
Cody and Noel’s videos, music, podcast (and so on and so on) bring me consistent joy, and I recommend you give them a try.
My top recommendations (fair warning: these two make a lot of sex jokes, like a lot of sex jokes. You’ve been warned.):
Cody and Noel Do: Drunk Baking
TMG — Walk Man (Official Video)