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The Best YouTube Channels Launched in 2016

What do The Rock, Kevin Smith and industrial-strength water jets have in common? They all are in the spotlight thanks to fantastic YouTube channels launched this year.

John Cleese


It is hard to believe, but YouTube is now more than a decade old. No longer a mere repository for videos of children on drugs and goats bleating like humans, entire careers have been made (and unmade) on the video platform. In YouTube years, a channel from 2012 is practically a dinosaur. New channels pop up every day, sometimes with unlikely faces at the helm. Here are IndieWire’s favorite channels that launched this year.

The Rock

+1.1m subscribers

Is there anything he can’t do? As if transitioning from WWE superstar to highest paid-actor in Hollywood weren’t enough, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had to dip his toe in the YouTube waters as well. He launched his eponymous channel in June, and already has 1.4 million subscribers.

The content so far is sufficiently Rock-like, with the man never missing a pun. There’s “PokéRock,” in which YouTubers and celebrity friends like Seth Rogen battle a Pokémon Go cartoon version of The Rock. With the plethora of YouTube channels devoted to gaming, The Rock takes a tried-and-true form and gives it his own spin. The channel’s longer series is “Rock the Promo,” a bracketed tournament to decide who among the eager unknowns submitted the funniest faux-wrestler promo, with The Rock’s old wrestling buddies serving as judges.

READ MORE: The Rock Just Launched a YouTube Channel, And He’s Asking Social Media Stars To Help Him Find His Edge

John Cleese

+20k subscribers

In the other end of the ring, we have Monty Python‘s John Cleese, who started his channel in July and has been using it as a place to dump sketches new and old. The description reads: “The official, bombastic, hilarious, stonkingly good home of John Cleese on Youtube. Subscribe for the silliest content on Youtube, including unseen sketches, rants, videos from dusty archives, and more.”

Promised rants include his thoughts on vocal emphasis during air-travel announcements and Christianity as capitalism. In his welcome video, Cleese appears wearing a cardboard mask of his own face. “I bring you good news,” the beloved comedian says, “I’m still alive!” And he’s got the YouTube channel to prove it. “I have a young friend called Andy who does this IT social media rubbish for me,” he mutters. Andy, whoever you are, thank you.


+21k subscribers

Why did creators Hunter & Alex make a show about high people putting together Ikea furniture? “It just sounded funny,” they tell Keith, who just took five hours to build a desk after eating a bag of mushrooms. Building Ikea furniture is a terrible trip for most people even without drugs, but it turns out to be pretty great as a YouTube show. With a punny name and a straightforward concept, “Hikea” is one of those magical Internet things you never knew you needed until you did.

Let’s Melt This

+71k subscribers

YouTube is the definition of oversaturated, but a cool concept and an obvious name will never fail. On this channel, you can finally discover what would happen if you put a styrofoam cup in Aceton or poured sulfuric acid on your sneakers. Most satisfying, perhaps, is the battle between blowtorch and Jawbreaker. Revenge tastes so sweet.

READ MORE: Refinery29’s Female-Driven YouTube Channel Is A Laugh RIOT


+8k subscribers

Refinery29’s new comedy channel premiered with a bang in April, whipping the feminist and comedy communities into a tizzy by giving female comics a platform (and budget) to showcase smart content about a range of sometimes taboo topics (or at least topics networks might consider taboo because they concern women.) With guest appearances from Lena Dunham, Julie Klausner, Vanessa Bayer and Jessi Klein, RIOT is harnessing the power of famous funny women to anoint the next class.

The Food Surgeon

+89k subscribers

If you’ve ever wondered what a strawberry would look like without any seeds or if a Kit Kat would fit inside of a Three Musketeers, this is channel for you. With surgical precision, disembodied latex-gloved hands perform “Avocado In Vitro Fertilization” and a “Dissection of a Garlic Bulb.” It’s one of the weirder concepts on this list, but with artistic direction and a consistent rollout of content, the channel is sure to keep subscribers flocking to it.

Kevin Smith

+219k subscribers

Technically launched in December of 2015, Kevin Smith’s channel makes it onto this list because, well — he’s Kevin Smith. He uses his channel to announce exclusive news about upcoming projects (like his gig directing an episode of “Supergirl”) during a filmed recording of his podcast “Fat Man on Bat Man.” He also posts animated shorts in his series “Smodimation,” using improvised riffs from another podcast, “Smodcast.” In this episode, Smith and Scott Mosier make quick fun out of a Canadian police scanner.

READ MORE: ‘Mallrats’ Television Series: Kevin Smith Announces 10-Episode Season

Cut in Half

+26k subscribers

If you happen to own an industrial-strength water jet and have dreams of YouTube stardom, why wouldn’t you use it to cut everything from pistols to bowling pins in half? Proving yet again that a blatantly obvious name and a prolific output are key to YouTube success, “Cut in Half” has one other clutch advantage: Viewers have to watch until the end if they want to see the coolest part (the inside of the pistol).

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