H3h3productions is at the forefront of YouTube, with all of their videos hitting the trending list and their subscriber count growing exponentially. It wasn’t always this way for the duo, whose roots are in odd videos of Ethan Klein wearing boxers and dancing around their apartment.
What changed, and how did they get this far?
1. They started by following a trend.
The first successful stint h3h3productions had was with their reaction videos. The bulk of their fanbase knows them for this platform, and they still make an effort to revisit this regularly. It was with their reactions to odd channels and videos, which were always meant to be light and playful, that got them on the front page of Reddit numerous times. By then, they had around 300,000 subscribers and started growing.
2. Then came the meme.
In an effort to poke fun at the growing “vape” culture, Ethan donned a marijuana patterned do-rag, psychedelic shades, and a ridiculous “chub ‘n’ tuck” combo (with his gut forced up by his pants), and took to the streets of New York in search of a vaporizer. He admitted that when they came up with the idea, they felt it was ridiculous and might be a flop.
However, on their adventures, he ran into police, who let him use their cart, and they even stood outside a newsroom and got the attention of the anchor. The video was an instant hit, now with 14.9 million views. Their subscriber count blew up.
3. Now they have celebrity features.
In the past, they would poke fun at famous characters, such as DJ Khaled. Since gaining immense popularity, they have not only had DJ Khaled on their show, but they have also featured multiple videos with their friend Post Malone.
They even just released a video with another previous subject of their videos, Tai Lopez (the infamous YouTube infomercial character). Each time they collaborate with or feature a celebrity, their subscriber count jumps up.
4. An ongoing lawsuit gained the support of all YouTubers.
One YouTuber did not have such a good sense of humor and threatened them with a lawsuit for unlicensed use of his material. To any YouTuber, h3h3 was clearly within their rights of fair use by parodying his work. However, a jury might not see it that way, and the prosecutor offered a $4,000 settlement, which would set the precedent that any YouTuber could be sued for the same reason.
H3h3 stood their ground and are currently taking the matter to court, which gained the attention and support of a plethora of major YouTubers, including PewDiePie, Philip DeFranco (who started a campaign to fund the lawsuit), and even LeafyIsHere, who had previously had beef with the duo.
Ethan and Hila Klein have worked for years to grow their channel and create an image of morality and humor. By being honest and courageous, as well as playful with the norm set by YouTube, they have had a ton of success. Throughout it all, they have remained genuine, which any successful YouTuber will say is the key to growth.
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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s playing pool after school.