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The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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We’re All Doomed! The End of the World Through the Eyes of Daniel Howell

Photo+credit+to+%40danielhowell+on+Instagram
Photo credit to @danielhowell on Instagram

On October 16th, 2009, YouTube creator Daniel Howell (formerly danisnotonfire) uploaded his first ever video, titled “HELLO INTERNET”. This video, a time capsule from the emo-fringed late 2000s, is Howell doing a variety of random actions such as dancing while talking about his entrance into the YouTube-sphere. A video that Howell himself despises, to put it lightly, despite its 2009-ness, launched him into a multi-decade career, along with fellow YouTube creator and housemate Phil Lester (AmazingPhil). 

Since 2009, both Howell and Lester have not only become some of the most popular content creators on the platform, but have actually helped to define the definition of a “content creator”, and the things that these so-called “YouTubers” can do. In 2015, the duo released The Amazing Book is Not on Fire, with an accompanying stage show fittingly named The Amazing Tour is Not on Fire. The tour of this stage show single-handedly set the bar for live events put on by online content creators, with an elaborate story, lighting, effects, and music. The tour, often called TATINOF by fans, was well attended and well loved by all those who interacted with it, and Dan and Phil went down in internet history, as if they didn’t already!

In 2018, they did it again. Interactive Introverts was Howell and Lester “giving the people what they want.” This tour was equally as extravagant, in the best way possible, and the duo once again showcased the capability of passionate internet personalities and their equally passionate fan-bases. Piano melodies and archery, believe it or not, were only some of the show’s highlights, and once again the duo set the bar extremely high with their apparent love for not only what they do, but for those who have supported them throughout the years.

Daniel Howell and Phil Lester performing Interactive Introverts on July 19th, 2018, in Hartford, Connecticut. (Angelina Clark)

2019 was a turning point for both men. In June of 2019, Howell released his magnum opus “Basically I’m Gay”, which as the title suggests, is a coming out video. Howell, 28 at the time, offered an artistic and raw look into the life of a closeted gay man, a man who spent the majority of his young adult life not only in the spotlight, but plagued by people constantly speculating about his relationships and sexuality. Believe it or not, consistent invasion of privacy from individuals who claim to care about one’s well-being is enough to make someone suffer with their feelings in silence.

Daniel Howell

In June of 2019, Lester also came out as gay in “Coming Out to You“. While Lester’s video was shorter and much more lighthearted, it still made a statement and also showcased the impact coming out videos still have to this day. Lester experienced the same scrutiny and invasion of privacy as Howell, but despite this, both men have not only embraced their new and old audiences with open arms, but have absolutely flourished despite their challenges.

Daniel Howell

 

In May of 2022, in a video called “Why I Quit YouTube”, Howell announced a new stage show, one that he would be embarking on by himself as opposed to alongside Lester. The show was called We’re All Doomed, and despite its dark, bleak themes, it was, indeed, a comedy show. Though, to call it simply a “comedy show” ignores how varied and unique the show truly is. On the tails of his #1 Bestselling book You Will Get Through This Night, Howell conquered on a tour through North America, Europe, and Oceania.

One of these stops included The Egg in Albany, NY on October 18th, 2022, an event that The Beacon’s own Web Editor attended. That night, in a theater full of vaguely emo 20-somethings, the excitement was palpable. This was the first time Howell had embarked on a tour since 2018, and the first tour since he had come out as gay, meaning that he was completely free to be as authentic as possible. After an equally entertaining and strange pre-show Q&A, Howell began the show with a…musical number? In this number, Howell sings about how “everything’s fine” accompanied by backdrops of rainbows, flowers, and sunshine, which eventually escalates into madness before loudly exclaiming to the theater that, “we’re all doomed!”.

The Beacon Web Editor Angelina Clark with Dan Howell, October 18th, 2022 (Albany, NY) (Angelina Clark)

 

The show is very much a combination of comedy and tragedy, with segments such as Freedom or Fire, which asks the audience whether they will “free” or “fire” often controversial figures, such as unethical billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Jokes are made at the expense of people such as alt-right podcaster Joe Rogan, but deep down Howell hopes to showcase the unfortunate truths about these figures, and the fact that they continue to inspire young people, young children to be racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and bigoted as a whole. 

In Conspiracy Theory Mad Libs, Howell invites the audience to mock “tin-foil hat”-esque conspiracy theories, while acknowledging that pipelines such as the Q-Anon pipeline are not only saddening, but can easily affect average, non-bigoted individuals. Howell, a social media influencer himself, pokes fun at himself and similar people with over-exaggerated social media-centric skits. Howell plays the role of an unethical vlogger, a misogynistic podcaster, and the saddest part is that these skits are not really that far-fetched or unrealistic.

Dan Howell at Pre-show Q&A (October 18th, 2022, Albany, NY) (Angelina Clark)

Howell also provides commentary on artificial intelligence, a concept that has become so much more complicated and ethically-challenging since the show’s initial run in Fall of 2022. As a joke, Howell showcases an “artificial”, straight version of himself, which reflects the depressing reality of deep-fakes in the modern world. All of these, in addition to the harsh realities of realities such as climate change were acknowledged in a tasteful manner, never punching down but only punching up at the corporations and billionaires who have single-handedly destroyed the lives and planet of young people.

Not a lot of people can say that the end of a comedy show made them emotional or tear up, but the end of Howell’s We’re All Doomed acknowledged the way the modern world can make you feel small and unimportant, and led to more than a few tears in the audience. At the very end of the show, Howell highlights a quote from one of his very old videos, that he lives by and appreciates despite his distaste for some of his old content, a quote that is quite fitting for the show’s themes, and life in the tragedy-ridden 21st century.

 

 

“Embrace the void and have the courage to exist.”

Photo taken during pre-show intermission at We’re All Doomed on October 18th, 2022 at The Egg in Albany, NY (Angelina Clark)
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Angelina Clark, Web Editor

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  • J

    JayApr 4, 2024 at 1:00 pm

    What a beautifully written article! Dan’s “We’re All Doomed” hit close to home and inspired me in a way that not many other pieces of media have, so I’m grateful to see people writing about it and helping Dan expand his reach to people who may need it.

    Reply
  • J

    JennyApr 4, 2024 at 10:09 am

    I saw this amazing show and I agree with the author! It was a tragic comedy that Howell wrote and performed impressively. Switching easily from light-hearted bits to serious commentaries on society to deeply personal insights into his life, Howell showcased his range and more importantly, got his message of hope across effectively. I’m so glad I got to see it and I hope it finds a home on physical media at some point in the future. Thank you for this article! I really enjoyed it.

    Reply