Thursday, August 8, 2013

On Repeat: Black YouTubers (part 1)

Even though I went to Japan to study Japanese, English-language videos on YouTube were what kept me sane. I was practically on my own, I was in class all day hearing and speaking Japanese, when I went out  everything was written in Japanese and everyone spoke Japanese, and some days I was incredibly overwhelmed. Some days I just wanted to sit in my room and give my brain and ears a break. Some days I just wanted to hear Americans talking. As ecstatic as I was to have finally left America, I realized quickly that I needed a way to keep my head above water and maintain my sense of self. Black artists/writers/actors/creators on YouTube were that way for me. I'd like to introduce them to you, in order of familiarity:

I started watching the Playmakers about a year ago. A trio made of Ant Davis and brothers Kevin and Jason Fredericks, the Playmakers are what you might call a group of "Christian comedians". Their jokes are clean, but these guys are not in the least but lame or uptight. They make fools out of themselves in the name of Jesus! They're honest, and certainly not afraid to poke fun at Christians or the church from time to time. They gained such a following that they caught the attention of Tracey Edmonds and got a deal with Alright TV, a channel that aims to revolutionize Christian/family-friendly entertainment. Some of the Playmakers' newer videos have also been aired on that channel. Here's their latest video, "Shouting with Strangers".

This is Kevin Fredericks' personal channel where he uploads his own content.  He's an ordained minister and a married father of two young sons, and sometimes his family appears in his videos. In fact, his sons are actor-comedians as well! In addition to doing sketches, talking about his family and sharing his opinion on current trends and events, KevonStage also answers viewers' questions and gives them advice about living a Christian life and dealing with struggles in a Godly way. Here's one of his latest videos, "Every Thing is Racist", where he makes fun of conscious black folks who see racism in everything.

Issa Rae
I was introduced to Issa Rae by my best friend Morgan, who showed me the web series "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" for the first time over a year ago. This series, which draws inspiration from Issa Rae's own life, is about a young black woman's struggle to fit in in the workplace, figure out who she is, and maneuver the difficulties of dating and relationships. It's also what put Issa Rae on the map, making her a well-known actor/writer/director on the internet. She's become so successful that she's started transitioning from the internet to television, writing for or starring in upcoming shows. She does her best to maintain her internet presence of course, and her YouTube channel has a lot of goodies in addition to ABG. My personal favorites are "Rachetpiece Theater" and "Roomieloverfriends". Here's the first episode of ABG to get you started.

I've still got three more YouTubers to talk about, so be sure to check out part 2!

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