Last week, I was flipping through a new issue of Entertainment Weekly when I came across two full-page ads for Lilly Singh and Tyler Oakley. I know, who?
Both YouTube sensations, they each boast viewerships of over 7 million subscribers. To put that in perspective, that’s ten times the number of people who watched The Kids in the Hall in Canada back in the early 90s. That’s more people than watch any of the late night talk shows. That’s more than the population of Toronto.
Being nosey, I had to get to the bottom of this, so I went to YouTube to watch some of their clips. Singh (who calls herself Superwoman) is a terrible comedian, but she’s young, cute, south Asian, and ready for anything. Her big move seems to be impersonating her parents, and I will admit, she’s a wee bit sexy when she puts on that fake stubble and pretends to be her dad. But I could hardly get through a whole four minute bit.
Tyler Oakley is another story. He’s an out out gay, ‘unapologetic’, as they say. He’s not that young, probably mid-20s but pretends to be a twink. He’s white, blonde, twee, fey, and his clips often have a point. Like Singh, he posts weekly so as to feed his hungry audience. Some of the clips are him reading viewer mail. Some are him interviewing friends, often other cute boys. If nothing else, he’s the new face of gay, and people – at least teenage girls – seem to love him.
YouTube is amazing. It’s the biggest library of visuals ever, and very resourceful. I myself just started a YouTube channel, and I’m loving it. But people like Singh and Oakley actually make a living doing this. They’ve carved out careers from posting online. It’s hard not to be a little impressed.