YouTube has come a long way since it was first launched in April 2005. It was originally a hodgepodge of random videos featuring people doing mundane things — indeed, the very first YouTube video, posted by the website’s co-creator Jawed Karim, was him at the zoo commenting on the size of elephant trunks. But fast forward to today, and the majority of videos that people watch feature polished, slickly produced content that rivals what you can watch on television. While Pewdiepie and Casey Neistat garner tens of millions of views for each of their videos, there are plenty of unique and interesting channels that are just as fun to watch even if the subscription totals are more modest. Here are YouTube channels that you should definitely check out.
Bald and Bankrupt
There are plenty of traveling vlogs to choose from, but Englishman Benjamin Rich is truly one of a kind. He eschews flashy music, drones, and pleas to “smash that subscribe button” as he explores the farthest reaches of the former Soviet Union, using his fluent Russian speaking skills to make friends with the local babushkas (Russian grandmothers) and gopniks (Slavic street toughs) along the way. His dry sense of humor and ability to spontaneously craft a narrative makes this channel very addictive.
If you’re a fan of short films, Omeleto has you covered. Channel creator Allen Tsai gathers movies that have been screened at Sundance, Cannes, and other prominent film festivals. Some have even won Academy Awards. The channel has posted more than 400 featurettes to date, with around 5 new uploads every week. When you’ve got a long flight ahead and a short attention span, downloading a few of these short films is a great way to pass the time.
Shiey (real name Marius Bublys) is a Lithuanian adventurer who surfs trains around Europe, claims to the top of buildings and towers, engages in daring physical feats, and explores nuclear bunkers and abandoned factories. He somehow manages to squeeze into narrow tunnels — which gives the viewer a serious case of claustrophobia just watching it — as he and his friends navigate through underground passages. Occasionally he also has to evade guards that have spotted him in their warehouse, creating some exciting tension.
Joel Haver is a Canadian-born filmmaker who has been posting most short videos (but also 4 “no budget” feature films) since 2013, but it wasn’t until the past year that his channel really started to blow up thanks to his hilarious animated shorts. Using free software called EbSynth, he turns video game, fantasy and science fiction tropes on their head. Our personal favorite is a Han Solo-like intergalactic bounty hunter who turns a lucrative offer to assassinate somebody due to it being, “I don’t know, dangerous?” Much to the confusion of the alien who approached him in a canteen. Joel’s live action shorts are also worth watching. He posts a new video every week.
John Jurasek, aka as Reviewbrah, launched his channel when he was 14 years old, initially reviewing energy drinks before making fast food his main focus. Always dressed in his signature suit and using an old-timey 1940s voice in his delivery, he has a knack for engaging with the audience, often sharing stories about things going on in his life and using deadpan humor leading up to the actual food review. If you’re a fan of pizza and hamburgers, his food reviews themselves are very descriptive and useful.
Let’s Game It Out
A video gamer known simply as Josh has built up a following thanks to the humor, unbridledly joy and sheer torment he delivers to the subjects in the simulation video games he plays. Josh doesn’t simply goof around, he comes up with the most ridiculously funny scenarios. For instance, while playing Sims 4, he kidnaps the entire neighborhood to see what happens, creating intriguing subplots along the way. In Zoo Planet, he creates the most unethical zoo imaginable, full of neglected giraffes and elephants, and unfortunate guests who ride the zoo’s train and are never seen again.
A channel that started off as a conventional “here’s how my girlfriend and I spend our day” vlog, Jet struck upon a brilliant idea: he buys regular fast food and challenges his dad (celebrity chef Susur Lee) to transform it into something gourmet. Panda Express, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Popeyes are just some of the fast food changes that have seen their food receive an upgrade. Susur is a charismatic, personable guy who makes this channel more interesting than just a mere cooking show.
4K Urban Life
In the Age of Covid, traveling is but a dream. But thanks to this channel, you get to go on a street tour and catch all of the fun and excitement of both the world’s most famous cities as well as those quaint European towns that tend to fall under the radar. Most are around 30-40 minutes long, although some are as long as 6+ hours! Explore the cobblestone streets of Lviv, Ukraine or check out the relaxing views of the sea along the boardwalk in the ancient resort town of Kotor, Montenegro.