If you’ve been on the CTA anytime in the past few weeks, there’s no way you missed the ads for YouTubers like Michelle Phan, “Epic Rap Battles”, and “Drunk History” plastered all over the inside of the train and all over billboards in Chicago.  YouTube isn’t just a place for cat videos anymore.  It’s a haven for creatives to get themselves noticed, and YouTube-originated fame is absolutely exploding, with shows like “Drunk History” getting picked up by the likes of Comedy Central.

But “Drunk History: had the Funny or Die advantage.  Here’s a few comedy geniuses that originated as independent YouTubers before going big and blowing up the big, medium, and iPhone screen. As you’ll see, some of the channels even produced multiple stars.

7. Epic Meal Time (Harley Morenstein)

This is probably the most swearing you’ll ever hear from a Canadian.  Featuring the manliest chefs ever (they have a sword wall), these guys make crazy combinations of insanely caloric food with the calorie and fat counter in the lower right corner to prove it. Not only did they just release a cook book and sell the shirts they custom make for the show, but were just picked up for a 16 episode show on A&E’s FYI network.

This video, while not their most popular (at just a measly 9 million views), is a great intro to what these guys and their show are all about:


6. Epic Rap Battles of History (Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist)

Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist adapted ERB from an improv show to a Youtube series with over  a billion total views.  From Bill Nye vs Sir Isaac Newton to Miley Cyrus vs Joan of Arc to Batman vs Sherlock Holmes, these guys occasionally feature other YouTubers (such as Jenna Marbles and PewDiePie) as well as comedians (such as “Weird Al” Yankovic and Key and Peele), and have created 45 videos featuring historical figures like Darth Vader and Doc Brown (the “of history” part is used loosely).

Check out their Obama vs Romney video if not just for Abraham Lincoln riding a giant bald eagle around 2:19:


5. Bo Burnham

He had me at, “I took my cereal, stabbed it open with a knife, snorted that sh*t and got high on life” back in high school.  Now 23, he’s been the youngest comedian to be featured on Comedy Central Presents (in 2009 at the age of 18), has two CDs and three comedy specials, plus a book of poetry.  When he’s not making you feel like you’ve done nothing with your life, he specializes in hilariously taboo raps and songs.


4. Donald Glover

Mainly known from playing Troy on Community, he started on Derrick Comedy – who you probably know as the comedy troupe behind the video Bro Rape.  He went from making a Derrick Comedy film- Mystery Team (which also had Aubrey Plaza in it) –  to writing on 30 Rock where he was initially the show’s only black writer, and was apparently still so young that he was living in a dorm as an RA.

If you don’t know him through his acting, you probably know him through his music and stage name, Childish Gambino.


3. Jon Lajoie

You might know him as Taco from The League on FXX.  But remember that guy on YouTube who did the video “Show Me Your Genitals?” (over 66 million views) back in 2008 when you and your friends were probably quoting it in high school?  Followed by “Show me Your Genitals 2 E=MCVagina”?  Yup, same guy.  Actual information about him is shockingly (and fittingly) scarce, but just…read the hilarious bio on his website and it’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Here’s a cringe-worthy scene of him as Taco in The League. 


2. Britanick (Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher)

If you haven’t seen any of this brilliant sketch duo’s comedy, it’s time you started. You’ve probably seen their “Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer“, but also see Eagles are Turning People into Horses for a hilariously weird short film experience.  Their comedic talent garnered them attention by the great Joss Whedon, who has since been in one of their videos.  They’ve had small parts in Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, The Amazing Spiderman 2, and How I met Your Mother, and are currently filming a Comedy Central Pilot.

You can’t go wrong with any of their videos, which all have the same unique type of humor, but check out one of their most popular videos, “The Morning Routine” below, and check out “On The House” too.


1. Broad City (Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson)

We love Broad City, in case we didn’t make ourselves clear here…or here

But what you might not know is that Broad City started as a YouTube show under the same name.  Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson started the web show in 2009, which garnered a cult following before it got picked up by Comedy Central to be produced by Amy Poehler.  The web-version of Broad City has the same style of humor and is definitely worth checking out.

Check out the very first Broad City episode ever made:

(Featured photo courtesy of the Broad City Facebook page and in-content screenshot courtesy of Jessie Aulicino)