Between seemingly endless papers and exams as of late, there are a few things I can count on as sanity-restoring distractions. The usual suspects feature – Twitter, music, Murder, She Wrote on Netflix – but one of my mainstays is my small collection of YouTube subscriptions. I seldom actually subscribe to a channel – most of my 88 subscriptions are actually convenient bookmarks reminding me that someone has, say, footage of a concert I attended – but when I do, I am devout. I don’t have time each day to stream content, so I do a quick check and add everything new that catches my eye to my Watch Later playlist and marathon it before bed a few times each week.
Here are the channels I seldom skip any content from – the ones that make me laugh ’til it hurts, keep me informed, or simply entertain me. I’m pretty sure all of them are fairly well-known, but that doesn’t matter: after all, Ray William Johnson is well-known despite his constant barrage of unfunny date rape ‘jokes’. These are the YouTubers who shine brightest for me.
In no particular order…
Companion Channels: TheFineBros2; MyMusicShow
I stumbled onto The Fine Brothers (Benny and Rafi) while searching for videos bashing Rebecca Black’s horrid song Friday. Their series Kids React showed up in suggested videos and I clicked it… and promptly marathoned the entire series to date. I now also follow spin-off series Teens React, their other videos (spoilers; interactive “choose your own adventure” type games based on Saved By The Bell and Mad Men) and lately, I tap my foot impatiently, awaiting their new series, MyMusic.
The React shows are a simple concept: show kids/teens viral videos and ask them questions about them. The videos are usually silly, as many viral videos area, but the shows do move into serious territory at times (Kony 2012). The stars are witty, insightful or as blunt as I am, and it is glorious.
Benny and Rafi bring the snark and hilarity of Joss Whedon and Veronica Mars coupled with an intense knowledge and appreciation of pop culture and social media to the table. They’re warm, genuinely thankful for their fans, and they work hard to produce tons of content. I feel like they deserve their own TV channel akin to Weird Al’s UHF – co-starring some of my other choices on this list.
They are also part of the glorious trio that is the All We Know podcast, and although I love Paramore, they must conquer them in the search results on iTunes. With Soul rounding out the group, what ensues is a hilarious and yet insightful look at the news, based on the following premise: AWK delivers, literally, all Benny, Rafi and Soul know about a story – which sometimes isn’t very much. The subtler message – that even in this age of readily-accessible news, we can still be woefully uninformed – is clever and painfully accurate. I laugh on public transit as I tune in, and squee when I get a shout out (I tweet the boys often).
I am serious about a dinner with you three, by the way. I would die laughing, but what a way to go!
MyMusic is sure to take the internet by storm, and so it should: Toby Turner as Satan? That alone is reason to watch, but the brothers Fine have also managed to create a world that pop culture junkies like myself want to crawl through the screen and join, Poltergeist style. I could ramble on about my affection for them, but instead, check out their far superior content.
Companion Channels: tobyturner (vlogs); tobygames
How to describe Toby? Lemme see… Ah! Toby appears to be on a 24-7 Red Bull drip, and thus, he is awesome! Like me, he makes up songs, parodies things, and enjoys cute kitty viral videos. He uploads daily vlogs that are… well, awesome. My favourite content however is his series Cute/Win/Fail, wherein he pits three viral videos (one of each type) against each other and allows viewers to vote on the most epic video of the three. Unlike Ray William Johnson, Toby makes me laugh and doesn’t need to veer into offensive and sexist jokes to do so.
I also love Toby’s literal trailers and original songs (I’ve been playing Safety Torch and I Can Swing My Sword while writing), and Tobuscus Animated Adventures (check out the Dead Island one, and the Christmas one). I have a feeling that we were separated at birth, because his humour is just as wild as my own.
Toby is so cheery and personable. It’s no wonder to me that he’s popped up in a Fine Brothers show, because their affability and humour are similar.
There is no way to do Toby justice with a review. He must be seen to be adored. Voila!
Companion channels: Oh so many.
Phillip DeFranco has many projects and channels on YouTube, but I’m partial to the Philly D news show myself. It’s the quickest way for me to grab a few news stories that Canadian sites may not care to mention or not go into detail on, plus Phil snarks and makes me giggle. Granted. at times, Phil misses the mark and his white male privilege shows (example: reducing eating disorders to an issue of girls wanting to be skinny, when the true issue is a need for control stemming from complex psychological issues and usually trauma), but he’s open to and encourages viewer response and feedback. He’s not afraid to use his rather powerful platform to speak his mind and engage audiences, without forcing his views down anyone’s throat.
He also loves our faces, which is very nice of him. My face enjoys love.
The Young Turks
Companion channels: several
TYT has the distinction of being the first channel I subscribed to with the intention of following new uploads on the regular. Introduced to it by an ex in 2007, I fell in love with the dynamic of Cenk and Ana, as well as their ability to call out anyone and everyone deserving. It’s refreshing to see a liberal news show unafraid to skewer President Obama for his failings and letdowns as readily as it will tear Santorum a new one (snicker) for his idiotic thoughts on sexual assault.
Covering the full gamut from pop culture to politics to science, TYT examines the stories that matter and pulls them apart from the diverse perspectives and varying areas of expertise of the staff. It’s a great way to stay informed with minimal bias.
I heart Razor. Whenever I need a reality check on my own life, I take a wander through Razor’s extensive collection of Maury show clips and remember that my life is not like that. One of the highlights is the wild and hilarious titles given to the clips, as well as the tags. I shouldn’t have to explain more than this: if you’re a Maury fan, go. If you like reality trainwrecks, go.