Brian Stetler wrote about Michael Buckley and his now famous Youtube videos “What the Buck?” in a piece for The New York Times back in 2008 . Buckley was one of the first to monetize his videos on Youtube by becoming a “partner” and now he made enough money off his videos on entertainment news and celebrity gossip to quit his day job at a public access station. As Buckley learned, making popular Youtube videos once you’re popular (that’s the hard part) is a full-time job.
Just ask EpicMealTime, now famous (all their videos have at least 1 million views) for creating monstrous gastronomical feats like the Breakfast Eggroll, Tex Mex Lasagna and Meatzza.
The group of friends started off simply with a video of stacking all their favorite fast food on top of a pizza. More ridiculously hilarious than healthy (or even edible?), the video became extremely popular and viewers even started to send in suggestions for the group. Now their videos have ads and they even have a merchandise site for fans who want to buy a t-shirt with their famous motto “BACON STRIPS AND BACON STRIPS AND BACON STRIPS”. If you haven’t heard of them before, check out their videos featuring the hand-crafted bacon weaves and the Jack Daniel’s they work in to various recipes.
Another accidental Youtube star I’m a fan of is Jenna Marbles, who’s first video that went viral was “How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking.” Jenna Marbles (real name Jenna Mourey) is a former go-go dancer and blogger at defunct stoollala (a sister site of Barstool sports) who now has over 2.7 million subscribers on her main channel and about half a million subscribers to her personal vlog channel. Although she just moved to California for a new job, she continues to put out new, humorous videos every Wednesday with the help of her dogs Kermit and Mr. Marbles. She now takes requests from fans, stays updated with a twitter, and has even featured on other Youtubers videos, like My Drunk Kitchen (run by Hannah Hart, another accidental Youtube star who now makes regular videos). Both Jenna Marbles and My Drunk Kitchen, where Hannah Hart literally just films herself cooking while intoxicated (with hilarious results) also now have ads for revenue from their videos and merchandise. Who needs a “real” job when you’ve got millions of adoring fans on the internet who will watch anything you make and buy anything with your jokes on it?
Not only do these few examples give me hope for Youtube stars that want to produce great, original content just as someone who has a Youtube channel like myself, but they also give me hope as a comedian. The world of comedy is different than even 10 years ago. Some of the best talent on TV, movies, an on-stage these days comes from the internet and sites like Youtube. Youtube is the new resume for funny and talented people trying to sell their work to agents. There’s not much room to hide with simple camera equipment, a microphone, and usually minimal editing. The old rules of comedy no longer apply. On the internet, where the democracy votes who is the best with its “likes” and subscriptions, funny and original content is key. Luckily, these people and channels I subscribe to are making some money now and don’t have to sacrifice the quality of their videos. Youtube, Vimeo and sites like it need to adapt to suit content creators like these because not every actor or comedian will plan on being popular- but when the internet speaks, the entertainment industry should listen.