Down the YouTube Rabbit hole (or how I\'m holding on to some sanity)

Some days you churn out 1000s of words of post-apocalyptic fiction (because what else there) some days you end up down a Youtube rabbit hole. And that’s ok. 

Unlike many of my older Millennials, I am a HUGE advocate of Youtubers. I think they’re super creative, interesting people…and also a total car crash. Basically the perfect intersection of life. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise. But I won\’t bore you with the generic Youtubers I love, no no this is for the weird, wonderful, and plain trashy of my increasingly strange habits. But hey, during this time of lockdown-semi-lockdown-and-who-the-fuck-knows YouTube has become one of my many self-soothing/coping mechanisms. 

This started when, after a job interview on Friday I fell down a rabbit hole after discovering a series of weird skits by the cast of Schitt\’s Creek….being only a couple of minutes each it was an easy rabbit hole to fall down (you\’re welcome if you now do the same…this is one of my favourites)

This led down a rabbit hold of behind the episode snippets, and before I knew it, well…Friday was a write off. But the point was actually my brain needed that diversion of silliness. And I\’ve actually been using YouTube, while tied to my laptop for the last 5 months, as a way to escape the world in various, some more productive than other ways. And thinking about it amused me, so here’s a rundown. From the sublime to the ridiculous (mostly ridiculous). 

Let\’s start with something moderately cool…ok just kidding. But Vlog Brothers is a nerd staple right? John and Hank Green vlog to each other on a plethora of topics, some inspiring, some funny, some just plain nerdy. The joy (aside from two nerds vlogging at each other) is that the format is that they\’re 4 minutes long. Making a perfect \’break\’ viewing. I only discovered them properly this year, and the joy of that is that there\’s literally hundreds of them which you can dip into out of context and at any time. Including this gem of serotonin.

Sticking with the classics, any self-respecting internet nerd AND theatre nerd has been following Coleen Ballinger/Miranda Sings for years. For those who don\’t know Miranda was a skit character, a self-possessed, slightly delusional singer who sang show tunes fairly badly. While Coleen herself is a great singer who, well always dreamed of Broadway. Alongside her character videos as Miranda, she was also a fairly early vlogger. Now, a confession that might get me excommunicated, I\’ve never quite got Miranda, but Coleen is such a theatre nerd I can\’t help but love her. Coleen has been vlogging, by her own admission a mix of really dull home life in quarantine, and some silly videos. And after all this time it\’s like checking in on a friend, and weridly soothing. Also her kid is ridiculous but in a good way. And this video is perfect intersection of all those things.

Of course, as any self-respecting musical theatre nerd, I\’ve long used Youtube for ahem, questionable sourcing of shows. But lockdown has luckily made some more legitimate material available. Not least the Sondheim tribute concert for the great man\’s Birthday. I\’ve cried more times than might be considered necessary to this one from Brandon Uranowitz. \’None of it was wasted…all of it will last\’

Speaking of musicals, I will go to my grave complaining I was deprived of seeing Sara Bareilles for the second time in Waitress, but possibly prevented from getting a restraining order from Gavin Creel, by two cruel days. So I\’ve watched this a LOT.

Ok it\’s time for some weird. That\’s what we\’re here for right? Confession…I watch a fair few \’Mum vloggers\’ and I have zero idea why. I don\’t have kids, I don\’t even…like kids very much…like I\’m the woman who holds a kid like a football. But here we are with a subscription to several \’Mum blogs\’ I do enjoy a good bit of organisation porn, so maybe that\’s it. Anyway here\’s my favourite, most Brummy woman on the planet talking us through some organisation from Poundland (This is weird, I\’m aware)

While we\’re confessing the weird shit, but with a gear change…anyone who saw my (utter hit, obviously) of a play last year (remember when we could see plays?!) might remember a reference to \’Undertaker Youtube\’ …neither a quirky character trait or made up, oh no my friends, Undertaker Youtube is a real thing. And what better way to pass time in a pandemic than watching Youtube videos about death? here\’s one of my favourites, also referenced in the play, about Jeremy Bentham\’s head.

I think we all need a musical interlude after that right? I highly recommend \’Miscast\’ from MCC theatre for all your stagey needs. The concept is simple- gender bending Broadway songs. Which has led us to this iconic number from Gavin Creel and Aaron Tveit. I have watched this enough to warrant that restraining order. But man…it\’s just hot.

Back to my trash habits. This one is a good one. No I cannot explain it, I wish I had a reason like \’I was researching a thing\’ but nope. I\’m just trash. I love Sorority Recruitment videos. Yes, that\’s right, weird cult-like clubs in American Universities who have week-long recruitment for new members, many of whom vlog about it, and I am HERE for this. I still don\’t understand it, but girl I want to see your bid day outfits. Here\’s a delightfully trashy example. 

Oh and my friends the Sorority trash does not stop there. Oh no. There are HOUSE TOUR videos. Oh yes. These people have giant fuck-off houses they all live in just like in Legally Blonde and you BET I want to see inside it. 

In what is a seamless link here, my choir is called Sororitas, though I promise we aren\’t a Sorority. Anyway, I miss choir more than most things. So I\’ve watched this a lot too….I just want to dress as Minnie Mouse and sing daft songs again. 

Back to the maybe weird…cooking. Be it Bake Off, Masterchef or something else. Early on in lockdown my good friend Benji gave me the pro-tip that cooking shows are great for turning your mind off in all this. Nothing bad happens, the competition is of the purest kind and if it\’s Bake Off you get a side of excellent innuendo. Turns out doesn\’t matter if you\’ve seen it before, watching someone make a really good or really bad cake is always a good brief distraction. 

What youtube list would be complete without dogs? And Olive and Mabel have been the heroes of 2020. Their Dad, a sports commentator, has no sports to comment on, so he does it for the dogs. Low level hilarity ensues. 

For anyone who follows me on Twitter, it\’s no secret I\’ve gone off at the deep end for Schitt\’s Creek. And as the top of this blog said, I lost a full day to that on Friday. The link between Fangirl mind and \’world is going to shit\’ mind isn\’t much of a coincidence (I\’ve been less vocally fangirling for New Amsterdam too). And while I won\’t bore anyone with my off at the deep end Schitt\’s Creek Youtube habits I will share two gems. The first, Vogue\’s 72 questions with Dan Levy. Which is firstly just a charmingly soothing chat, in a beautiful apartment. But also contains the world\’s most chilled out dog.

A secondary category of joy I have discovered is \’Eugene Levy receiving awards\’ because the man is both hilarious and utterly sweet, and it\’s just a joy every time. So here\’s one that was so fully lovely I defy anyone not to cry. (Skip to 19.00) 

We haven\’t quite confessed all the weird rabbit holes of Influencer nonsense I\’ve fallen down during these strange times. But this mix is what has saved my sanity (with a bit of trash). Finally, when all else is going wrong I do two things on Youtube. One is this Sara Bareilles concert of Waitress. I\’ve always loved watching concerts as background music, and this one just…soothes my soul. Long before all this nonsense, I\’d pick it up whenever I was sad, and it continues to serve that purpose. 

Finally, when all else fails, my weird YouTube secret? I have a music video that I force myself to watch and do nothing else. Just watch it. For the 4 ish minutes, just watch the video, listen to music. It\’s grounding, focusing and soothing all at once. I\’m not sharing what mine is, because I can\’t stand to ruin it through thinking someone judging me (judge the rest of this all you like). Besides you\’ve got to pick your own. For now, have some new Tay Tay, that\’s never a bad bet.  

Published by Emily Garside

Academic, journalist and playwright. My PhD was on theatrical responses to the AIDS epidemic, and I continue to write on Queer theatrical history. Professional nerd of all things theatre.

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