Where do famous people come from? The snarky answer is “their mom,” but the reality is that more and more often, they’re creating their own fame. As of late, YouTube has been the go-to kingmaker for notables in the worlds of music, television and comedy. Global phenom PSY has shown that, with some charisma and the click of an upload button (also a funny dance), anybody has a chance at grasping that golden ring.
Because the likelihood is that you’re reading this in some dreary office cubicle or while wearing stained sweatpants in the basement of your mom’s house, here is a list of five people who have done what you (and I) haven’t.
Comprised of Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine and Kyle Newacheck, Mail Order Comedy was the nom de gurre of this improv group back when they were struggling to break into L.A.’s performance scene. To stay competitive, they began uploading videos of their improv performances to YouTube. A Comedy Central executive saw their posts and the rest, as they say, is history.
4. Fred Figglehorn
The brainchild of Lucas Cruikshank, Fred is a squeaky-voiced kid with a terribly dysfunctional home life and anger management issues. The first YouTube channel to go over one million viewers, Fred is pretty much the worst thing I’ve ever seen (and I used to clean up dead bodies), but people seem to love it. Lucas/Fred has transformed the power of his YouTube success into three films on Nickelodeon and a series of TV shorts.
3. Ok Go
The most famous thing to ever happen on a treadmill, OK Go’s “Here It Goes Again,” is the second most famous example of what can happen when you post a music video to YouTube. An impossibly cheap video of an elaborately choreographed dance routine on running treadmills, “Here It Goes Again” received over one million views in just its first six days, and the band eventually won a Grammy. While the band has posted several more “gimmick” videos on YouTube, none have found the same popularity.
2. Daniel Tosh
Some might call this a controversial selection considering he didn’t really emerge from YouTube like the others, but nonetheless, his television show feeds remora-like off the flesh of the behemoth content provider. Besides, before “Tosh.0,” I used to go see him for free in intimate little comedy clubs — now I have to pay big money to go see him in giant sports arenas. If that’s not attributable to YouTube, I’ll eat my hat (it helps that, like Lady Gaga’s VMA costume, my hat is made out of steak).
1. Justin Bieber
Could you really picture anybody other than Justin Bieber heading this list? One of the biggest stars in the world, Justin began his rise to superstardom after talent manager Scooter Braun found the Canadian’s teen’s videos posted on YouTube and introduced him to Usher. Justin taught himself to play drums, guitar, piano and trumpet, and with 15 million albums currently sold, Forbes magazine has named him the 3rd most powerful entertainer in the world. Not a bad gig if you can get it.