Friday, February 17, 2012

Wasting Time on Youtube

Youtube is the worst. It's the ultimate time suck. You get stuck in a loop of "one more video" and then it's 3am and somehow via "suggested videos" you've transitioned from a link your friend posted on Facebook to the midst of the turtles-humping-pigeons subgenre you didn't know existed. That's why it's so great when you find a new favorite prolific channel - hours and hours of videos to catch up on and no ventures into that "weird part" of Youtube. This is by no means a definitive list, but here are some (okay, four...if I list all of my favorites at once this blog will be dissertation-length) reliable channels with pages and pages of videos for your perusal.


The Gilbert & George of Youtube, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla have been making videos together since 2005. They got lucky as far as timing goes with their early college-kids-lipsynching-to-90s-cartoon-theme-songs shtick, but had the charisma and talent to channel that easy-won viral fame into an enduring brand, which also includes the Cracked-lite Smosh website, second channel Ian Is Bored (where they amusingly eat lunch and open mail from the legion of Tumblr fangirls that will someday kidnap and ritualistically consume them), and a forthcoming channel in Spanish. Their current skits can err on the side of overproduced slickness and can lack the off-beat charm of such DIY gems as Boxman's Girlfriend, but they're still making good - and often great - stuff.

Mr. Arturo Trejo & Amigos

It's a funny guy, his funny wife, and their cherubic toddler. That might sound yuppie-obnoxious, but it's not. "Arturo Trejo" does a great job with editing, and the family is sweet and down-to-earth. I'm a single girl who knows she has no resources for a kid right now and is also terrified that childbirth would rip her pelvis in half, but nothing makes my ovaries go into "must procure baby!" mode like this channel. If you don't have the patience to sit through the lengthy family videos of Youtube legend ShayCarl, but still enjoy hilarious family antics, the Trejos are for you.
The simple premise of this show by real-life brothers the Fine Bros: a bunch of kids are shown some piece of viral/pop culture ephemera, and then are asked questions about it. It might sound like Kids Say the Darndest Things 2.0, but Kids React shows a fuller range of childhood: from "from the mouths of babes" wisdom to childish ignorance, from heartwarming displays of openness to the judgmental instincts of which playground bullying is born. Their on-the-fly "very special episode" on the death of Osama bin Laden (seen here) was one of the best commentaries on that event.

Epic Rap Battles of History

What started as a John Lennon versus Bill O'Reilly skit between Nice Peter and Lloyd Alquist has turned into one of Youtube's most popular series - and one of its cleverest. The episodes can be found on Nice Peter's channel, although a new channel was recently created just for new installments. With pairings from logical (Stephen Hawking vs. Einstein) to completely nonsensical (Genghis Khan vs. the Easter Bunny), each episode is nicely produced by powerhouse Maker Studios, even though lines this biting hardly need visuals. I have lots of favorites, but the depth and craftsmanship of Dr. Seuss vs. Shakespeare is sound and fury signifying sublimity.

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