On March 24th, the eggmatic and absurdist YouTube channel HowToBasic hit 10 million subscribers… and as pseudo-promised, he released a Face Reveal video. Except, his face was not the one that was revealed (it might have flashed at the end), it was dozens of popular creators who shouted that they, in fact, were HowToBasic. To date, the 13-minute video has racked up more than 12 million views and the community is calling it the best “YouTube Rewind” video ever.
To understand HowToBasic’s massive popularity, you must first understand the creator community as HowToBasic’s main charm lies in how he mocks popular YouTube tropes. First, the most apparent, is how How-To videos are a creator staple not only because they are easy to make (from writing to filming), they are also a constant revenue source. People use YouTube to teach themselves how to do everything, from how to cook, how to braid hair, how to recaulk their bathtub and even how to properly water their orchids. This is HowToBasic’s main shtick, except his videos are clearly what you should NOT to do… as they always end up with the destruction of some property and a ton of smashed eggs. HowToBasic’s first few videos were actually genuine (but very cheeky) How-To videos too, believe it or not.
The Face Reveal video by HowToBasic also lampoons the idea of a “Face Reveal” video, a popular video trope for educational, animated, and video essayist content once they hit major subscriber milestones. Being as YouTube is about broadcasting oneself, channels that don’t show their faces (or even speak like in HowToBasic’s case) end up cultivating a dedicated fanbase that desperately wants to see what that creator looks like. Other tropes mocked include how at the end of the video, HowToBasic references horror and conspiracy gags while also throwing out some teaser clues to get the hivemind cyber-sleuthing.
There are multiple threads on reddit, for instance, trying to solve what the message in wingdings that flashed at the end of the video is about. These types of Easter eggs in videos are a favorite among the ARG (Alternative Reality Game) crowd and are even employed in YouTube Rewind videos starting as early as 2012. Other fans are piecing together clues from other creators and HowToBasic videos. For instance, the man that is dragged away in the dark at the very end of the Face Reveal video shows a goateed man. In an earlier, different video, the reflection of a man with a goatee is spotted on a glass door. Others speculate HowToBasic has a chicken farm as an explanation for the absurd number of eggs used in his videos, as well as the occasional live chicken. Not much is definitely known about him except that he lives in Australia. Fans are also combing through old interviews for clues, like a 2013 Q&A with Tubefilter that at the time of this writing was the most popular article on the YouTube-centric outlet.
Another major factor in HowToBasic’s popularity is the notion that the creator is doing it for the love of content and not to make ad money AKA he is not selling out. His style and video format has remained consistent throughout , despite getting him in trouble in the past. Many of his videos are gory, gross like with poop and vomit or imply nudity resulting in some of them losing their monetization or becoming age-restricted. A common gag he employs is using a busted sausage as his penis, for example. If HowToBasic really cared about making more money and appealing to everyone, he would clean up his act a little bit. But he won’t and that’s why the community loves him. That isn’t to say HowToBasic isn’t making any money -- on the contrary, the Minneapolis-based outlet the Gazette Review calculated his net worth to be $2 million this February.