Like four peas in a pod, former Buzzfeed members Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfield and Eugene Lee Yang are among the internet’s most beloved entourage of YouTubers. Sensational, hilarious and down-to-earth, they embody the spirit of YouTube in a multitude of ways that never fail to capture the hearts of their viewers.
Currently, they’re churning out an exceptional amount of success with their lengthy podcasts, nation-wide tours and #1 New York Times bestselling installment The Hidden Power of F*cking Up. The fact that these releases are arriving in such quick succession indicates the astonishing maturity of their label. They’ve gained over 6 million subscribers in just over a year and consistently obtain millions of views for each video.
Statistically, this occurrence is an aberration, since YouTube has become a demanding environment that cycles through booms and busts. Even famous YouTube celebrities have begun to step back and work on other projects. For instance, Superwoman stepped away from YouTube near the end of 2018 due to burnout and is now hosting her own talk show on NBC instead of focusing exclusively on YouTube. Liza Koshy, at the beginning of this year, opened up to to emotional issues, saying, “I did lose my mind this year,” in her video “Why I Took A Break.” Now, Liza conducts interviews for Vogue at at various events, similar to Superwoman’s decision to concentrate on other areas after taking a hiatus from YouTube.
The Try Guys have been a brand long before the advent of their separate channel, starting as The Try Guys from Buzzfeed for years. However, instead of experiencing exhaustion and creative burnouts, they’ve only gotten more dedicated. People’s standards are elevating and their expectations are fine-tuned, so what makes The Try Guys seemingly immune to all this?
First, let’s consider their backgrounds and how this all began. Zach’s opening statement in their video “Why We Started Our Own Company” sums it up perfectly: “In April , I left my job at Buzzfeed after working there for four years. The next day, I started a company with my three best friends.” In just two sentences, Zach encapsulates what makes The Try Guys’ history so appealing: a risky but noble venture of quitting a job that didn’t fulfill one’s creative needs, taking this leap with friends in a hand-holding Kumbaya caricature and finally collaborating with those friends to create something fresh and exciting.
It’s a heartwarming tale that’s also realistic, fraught with struggles and arduous all-nighters but ultimately ends with a huge payoff. There’s an ideal balance of relatability and optimism that attracts subscribers, as many millennials can empathize with having an unsatisfactory job.
Capitalizing on the relatability aspect, the Try Guys’ personalities are incredibly entertaining, made even more so by the way they tastefully advertise their shortcomings. YouTube has always been bogged down with drama, particularly in the beauty community, but there are those renowned for their toxicity. These problematic YouTubers often come off as evasive, frivolous and almost manipulative — the polar opposite of how the Try Guys seem.
Instead, the Try Guys aren’t aiming for total perfection, opting instead to simply be themselves. Many of their videos center around them confronting a personal obstacle or fear, such as Keith with exercise and Ned with fashion. They are comfortably transparent with who they are, and, as a result, they aren’t nebulous, competitive or stingy to criticism. In fact, during a group therapy video a while back, the Try Guys constructively revealed what bothered them about each other. Their reactions were surprisingly mature, unlike the cutthroat verbal sparring on Twitter that ensues if a YouTuber calls out another YouTuber.
Furthermore, the Try Guys have a sense of both teamwork and individuality. Each member sports his own set of traits and beliefs distinguishable from the other members, but they all complement each other like jigsaw puzzles, making every interaction flow coherently. People can easily summarize their unique characteristics:
Zach Kornfield is the adorable, charismatic one — dubbed uwu by his fanbase — who also deals with hair loss and an autoimmune disease. Ned Fulmer is the dad of the group, hopelessly stereotypical with his Yale chemistry degree and button-downs, but there’s something irresistible about his attempts to branch out. Tall Keith Habersberger has an infectious sense of humor and passionate love for fried chicken, and he’s always willing to try new things despite his geographic tongue. Lastly, Eugene Lee Yang exhibits an insouciant exterior but everyone knows he has a heart of gold, and he’s recently released a fundraising video depicting his struggle as an Asian-American gay person from Texas. Together, the four of them are extremely personable.
These qualities are also emulated within other famous YouTubers such as Jenna Marbles, Shane Dawson and Safiya Nygaard, who all — for the most part — stay on the outskirts of toxicity and meaningless drama. The humor and relatability is seen in Jenna Marbles, who’s characterized by home videos of her dogs and artistic experimenting. Safiya Nygaard has the same background as the Try Guys, since she also used to work from Buzzfeed but deviated to create an auspicious channel of her own. Shane Dawson is upfront with the mistakes he’s made and his way of life, reflecting the candidacy of the Try Guys, and he also has his own crew of tightly-knit friends that appear with him on YouTube.
This is not to say that these so-called toxic YouTubers aren’t successful, but the Try Guys and other YouTubers like them prove that one doesn’t need to stir up drama or be embroiled in a controversy in order to make it. In accordance with the platitude “just be yourself,” people should endeavor to explore who they are instead of remaking themselves, and this will surely add some much-needed stability and authenticity to social media.
Photo Courtesy of James Loke Hale