The “Wassabi brothers,” Alex Burriss and Roi Fabito, basically grew their YouTube channel out of shock value and pushing the limit. They explained the birth of some of their most popular video ideas to Rhett & Link, another best friend, comedic duo on YouTube, on this week’s “Ear Biscuits.”
Fabito and Buriss started getting recognition for their YouTube work when they were still just in high school. The whole enterprise started off as a hobby for Fabito. He would make lip-syncing videos, often inviting other friends to join in. Yet as Fabito continued to teach himself editing and got more into the process of video creating, most of his friends lost interest…so he invited Buriss to join in his endeavor.
At that time, the two had no plans of turning this into a business — Wassabi Productions had yet to get its name, and no one was making money from YouTube at the time. Eventually, the duo became Wassabi more because it sounded cool than because they were trying to establish themselves as a production company. In fact, Fabito chose it because he was inspired by a scene in “Jackass: The Movie,” in which Steve-O consumes large amounts of wasabi (Fabito then proceeded to spell it incorrectly as the name of their duo, which he later used to his advantage as a play on words).
“Jackass” was an apt inspiration for their name. Fabito and Burriss largely rack up the views thanks to their nasty, challenge-based videos. Eating unbearably spicy foods, boiling energy drinks to consume, and taking ice baths are all activities that result in millions of views for the duo, and they know it. “[Fans] just really like the stuff we do,” said Buriss. “So okay, we’ll torture ourselves a little bit.”
Would the guys be eating hot peppers and trying to consume pickles in one bite (the “One Bite Challenge”) if the cameras were off? “No,” they both said in unison. “I wouldn’t be in my room alone and just eat it — I would at least tweet about it,” Burriss explained. Their ideas for this sort of content range. Eating unbearably spicy foods is a common challenge idea (Rhett and Link certainly aren’t strangers to it), and the one bite idea came up organically as the two were finishing up a meal together one day (“I bet you can’t eat what’s left on your plate in one bite!”).
It becomes even clearer that this is a strategy for views when you learn that the guys truly enjoy performing sketches in their videos. Prior to the YouTube Partner Program, Fabito and Burriss were mostly making sketch videos for their channel. When they realized what they were doing could become a profitable business, they deleted all the videos on their channel and started fresh with a regular schedule and more of a cohesive strategy. They posted videos once a month and latched onto a couple of characters whom their audience clearly enjoyed.
Those characters were Rolanda and Richard, and they came out of a “Call Me Maybe” parody that Fabito wrote shortly after the song came out. In the true fashion of the Wassabi brothers, they didn’t just create a song parody. They “decided to make it really out there,” Burriss described, with Fabito dressing up as a girl with a uni-brow and giving the song a whole new plot that they eventually turned into a pair of recurring, beloved characters on their channel.
For more on how these creators continue to woo their viewers with outrageous content, listen to their interview on “Ear Biscuits with Rhett and Link.”