If you’re anything like us, you probably spend more time watching YouTube videos these days than ‘conventional’ TV.
Whether it’s amusing parodies, ingenious musical creations or fascinating pop culture analysis, the up-and-coming talents of broadcasting seem to be increasingly plying their trade in free-to-view online video.
Here are 48 fantastic YouTube channels that will have you staring at your laptop or mobile device for hours and hours on end.
1. Bad Lip Reading
An ingenious, inspired series of vids that cleverly edits and over-dubs famous movies and TV shows so that it looks like the characters are saying something altogether more weird/inappropriate, this is the place to head if you want to see Game Of Thrones re-imagined as a comedy movie about a medieval theme park, or The Walking Dead with a musical number. “La-bibidi-bibidum…”
2. Funny Or Die
Some of the funniest sketches and parodies around can be found on this network, which was co-founded by Will Ferrell. With game big-name guest stars and talented performers, there’s an emphasis on spoofing pop culture and internet trends – recent highlights including ’10 hours walking in King’s Landing as a woman’ and ‘cooking with Mariah Carey’.
3. Hello Denizen
As cute as it is amusing, watching hamsters and fellow small pets chowing down on elaborate miniature food – or being cast as King Kong in their very own monster movie – has never been more addictive.
4. Adult Swim UK
Serving up an unhinged spin on classic childhood cartoons, movies and TV series, Robot Chicken is one of the most inventively hilarious geek-comedy shows of the past decade. Here you’ll find some of its most memorable highlights, along with clips from other entertaining Adult Swim creations.
Armed with some serious special effects skills, these anarchic filmmakers made their online names with jaw-dropping, laugh-out-loud short movies that transform humble living room squabbles into epic battles between good and evil – all with a key pop culture hook. Be sure to check out ‘Harry Potter vs Star Wars’.
6. Explosm Entertainment
This is the channel that hosts video spin-offs of notorious webcomic ‘Cyanide And Happiness’, a brutally dark and subversive comedy series that finds laughter in the most unlikely of places. Armed with some very smart ideas, the humour takes these notions to their logical (and occasionally shocking) conclusions.
7. Epic Rap Battles
Pitting historical figures, pop culture icons and all manner of other colourful characters against each other in a kind of musical version of Celebrity Deathmatch, there’s some real lyrical genius on show as famous faces strut their hip-hop face-off stuff.
8. The Lonely Island
Arguably the premier spoof songwriters of their generation, Andy Samberg and his partners in crime have mustered an enviable library of amazing music videos in recent years, including the wonderfully crude ‘Jizz In My Pants’ (featuring Justin Timberlake) and joyous ‘Jack Sparrow’ (featuring Michael Bolton).
9. Chris Stuckmann
Fun, engaging and extremely likable, Chris Stuckmann reviews the latest cinema releases with the perfect mix of warm humour, intelligent commentary and film geek knowledge. Add to that his fun ‘Hilariocity’ videos, detailed analysis of complex films such as Enemy, and his right-on rants about the state of action and horror, and you’ve got one of the most accessible yet rewarding critics on the web.
10. Every Frame A Painting
Shedding a fascinating light on some of cinema’s most memorable scenes, stars and filmmakers, Tony Zhou offers inspired analysis on the techniques and creative devices used to induce specific effects on the viewer. From Drive to Silence Of The Lambs and the work of Jackie Chan, this channel will give you a whole new appreciation for the craft behind your favourite film moments.
11. Your Movie Sucks
As the title suggests, acerbic vitriol-machine Adam Johnston is in the business of ruthlessly ripping apart some of the most jaw-droppingly awful movies around – from high-profile releases to cult oddities. Funny, sharp and keenly-observed, the flagship YMS videos offer bags of entertainment – while shorter reviews of new releases and belated ‘Top Film’ compilations allow him to make the case for the better flicks out there too.
12. Cinema Sins
If you’ve ever wanted to find out everything wrong with dozens and dozens of major movies past and present, you’ve come to the right place. Interestingly, it’s the pieces on generally well-regarded films that provide the most entertainment, as eagle-eyed narrator Jeremy amusingly highlights continuity errors, plot holes and weird filmmaking decisions you never noticed before.
13. How It Should Have Ended
So addictive you’ll end up watching for hours, this ingenious team of witty animators lovingly lampoon high-profile films by imagining cheeky, alternative conclusions. The vids take the form of terrifically fun comedy sketches in effect – and the recurring scenes with Batman and Superman in the cafe are great.
14. Red Letter Media
Funny, surprising and smartly subversive, these irreverent film reviewers found fame through the viral ‘Plinkett’ Star Wars videos (you have to watch them), and now produce both the popular Half In The Bag review series, and Best Of The Worst – in which they unearth and discuss unintentionally hilarious movies. The fact that the principle members are also experienced filmmakers means you can expect highly creative editing and stylistic choices – not to mention bizarre running narratives – and their analysis is also pretty knowledgable and interesting as a result.
15. Movie Bob
With his excellent weekly residency at The Escapist now at an end, Bob’s own YouTube channel is where you’ll find his insightful, refreshing thoughts on new releases, extended musings on geek culture in cinema, and the fledgling ‘Really That Good’ series, which looks at established classics with a fresh pair of eyes.
Transforming famous action movies into exuberant musicals before your very eyes, these ingenious creatives affectionately draw on films’ most memorable scenes and exchanges to create full-blown song and dance numbers for them. Dredd, Die Hard and Predator with jazz-hands shouldn’t work, but you’ll be begging for a full stage version. “If it bleeds we can kill it!”
Serving up everything from serious film analysis and reviews to homemade movie re-creations and – perhaps most famously – the ‘8-Bit Cinema’ series where they re-envisage famous films as retro video games, CineFix has every kind of video a self-respecting cinefile could want; ranging from thought-provoking essays to irreverent fun.
18. Kermode and Mayo
Outspoken, uncompromising and winner of the ‘Best Unconventional Impression Of Danny Dyer Award 2010’, Mark Kermode is probably the UK’s best-known film critic. Whether you agree with his opinion or not, his entertaining insights are always worth listening to – and his dynamic with co-presenter Simon Mayo hysterical. An expert at hatchet-jobs, when in full-blown rant mode he’s a force to behold.
19. Sorted Food
Started by a group of friends with a love of all things cooking, and now one of the biggest food channels on the internet. Sorted Food focuses around four guys making interesting meals and attempts to show you how possible it all is, with one qualified chef (Ben Ebbrell) to guide them through. The informal tone could run the risk of falling into ‘lad banter’ territory, if it wasn’t for the fact that all the presenters seem to be genuinely pleasant and willing to explain even the basics.The Sorted Food team are currently on their #LostAndHungry world tour, which is a great mix of travel blogging and good eats – making this a good time to get involved.
20. Cooking with Dog
Yep, this shows actually does what it says on the tin. This Japanese culinary outfit is hosted and narrated by Francis the Dog and an unnamed female chef. Whilst the mysterious chef goes about putting together Asian food dishes, Francis sits there offering a soothing narration – even when looking distracted, disinterested or asleep. Probably NSFW, but only because you won’t be able to contain your laughter and you’ll have to explain to a colleague what you’re actually watching.
21. Daym Drops
A true internet success story. Daymon Patterson was a retail store manager, until his YouTube review of a new burger from US-chain Five Guys became a huge viral hit and even spawned a hit single. This has led to him becoming a full-time food reviewer with his very own TV show. Ain’t that something. Daym Drops’ fast-food reviews take away any snobbishness from the role of the critic and instead leave with you an engaging presenter salivating over fast-food in the front seat of his car. Simple, but effective.
22. Epic Meal Time
A Canadian show that isn’t looking to help you cut down on calories. Hosted by Harley Morenstein and his band of compatriots, it falls somewhere between a food programme and an all-out comedy sketch (especially when Jamie Oliver is locked in a cupboard, or the show is hijacked by James Franco and Seth Rogen). The recipes delivered are often meat-heavy and enormously oversized – but it’s a fun watch if you’ve had enough of Lloyd Grossman.
23. My Drunk Kitchen
Hannah ‘Harto’ Hart is the quirky face of My Drunk Kitchen , a show that sees the 28-year-old attempt to take on culinary tasks whilst possibly sozzled. The show began in 2011, with some simple recipes such as omelettes and mac n’ cheese – but has evolved into a whole range of great recipe ideas from an engaging (occasionally inebriated) host who has become a hugely popular name worldwide.
24. How To Cook That
Cake-ing heck. Australian Ann Reardon was a food scientist and dietician before becoming a Youtube personality known for making hugely elaborate sweet dishes – from giant Mars Bars, to edible fire engines, to Sydney Harbour Bridge cake. Reardan is a friendly host, with a great presenting and plenty of instructions if you wish to try the recipes for yourself. Or, you can just gawp at the sheer madness of her projects.
25. Food Wishes
It doesn’t all have to be high calorie feats of culinary extremes. Food Wishes with Chef John is the cooking programme equivalent of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross – there’s something comforting about the pacing and delivery which has your brain emitting the happy chemicals. There are hundreds of recipes on the YouTube channel, ranging in cuisine styles and with step-by-step narration of how to put it together. No fancy camera cuts, no fuss – just food and how to make it.
A slightly off-beat inclusion on this list (yep, even more so than Cooking with Dog) but a channel well-worth checking out. PESfilm presents claymation takes on a fantasy kitchen, where a submarine sandwich put together with slices of a boxing glove. A charming animated channel that you will have you grinning along at every bizarre imaginative ingredient.
To counteract the sheer meaty overflow of the likes of Epic Meal Time and a whole plethora of barbecue options – Veggietorials breaks down vegan meals into easy instructional videos as well as providing product reviews. Host Cobi Kim is also a natural on-screen presence and is happy to poke fun at herself (including via a Lord of the Rings parody).
28. Super Bunnyhop
Offering the kind of fresh insights and alternative perspectives that’ll have you cooing with interest, George Weidman’s vids are a treasure-trove of thoughtful opinion. Ranging from reviews of the latest releases to fascinating opinion blogs and mammoth retrospectives (his Metal Gear Solid series is a delight), it’s the kind of intelligent commentary that makes you think about gaming in a whole new light.
Armed with one of the finest voices YouTube has to offer, Stuart Brown has gained a devoted following, mainly thanks to his exhaustive and surprisingly compelling essays on iconic weapons in video games. FPS fans will be in seventh heaven, but there’s also some genuinely brilliant diversions from the gun-specific path. His videos on open-world games and the original Half-Life are sensational.
30. Previously Recorded
A relatively new spin-off channel from Rich Evans and Jack Packard of Red Letter Media fame, there are copious Twitch recordings here; but the real meat lies in their occasional, lengthy dissections of games both new and old. Skewering mainstream releases and sacred cows while championing indie gems, their forthright views are always interesting – and sometimes eyebrow-raising – to behold.
If you’re a fan of the whole so-bad-it’s-good thing (and Lord knows we are), you’ve come to the right place. Jon Jafari currently specialises in seeking out the most weird, obscure and downright hilarious video games going – from anti-drug monstrosities to an 8-bit movie inspired knock-off called ‘Titenic’. Sharply edited and chock-full of humour, his vids are a pleasure to watch.
32. Extra Credits
Distinctive, engaging and admirably academic in their approach, the smart minds behind this long-running series cast a light on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to game design; covering topics that make you realise just why some experiences leave you utterly spell-bound, and others leave you utterly cold. Intellectually stimulating stuff then – but it’s so cheerful and witty you won’t feel lectured to.
33. Angry Joe
He may be a divisive figure, but Joe Vargas serves up some of the most entertaining, insightful and in-depth game reviews on the web. His ‘Angry Reviews’ regularly top the 30-minute mark, and are laden with irreverent fancy-dress fueled sketches and fiery rants alike. Passionate in the extreme, but fair and balanced with it, you’ll truly empathise with a guy who really wants to love each and every game – and gets furious when they let him down.
34. Jim Sterling
Speaking of games letting people down, you could fill a thousand gigabyte library with the dirt that Sterling has collected on dodgy, broken Steam releases in recent times. The outspoken bane of every shameless, money-grabbing developer out there, he’s certainly not shy about letting rip at cynical Triple A tactics either. His weekly ‘Jimquisition’ series is a marvel of withering sarcasm and sharp satire when aiming at the negative – and an uplifting singing of praises when he falls in love with something.
35. Boogie 2988
A glorious geek culture thinker whose thoughts on everything from the latest releases to online controversy are always worth a watch, Boogie is one of the most likable gaming personalities on YouTube – and his Francis alter-ego, for which he is perhaps best-known, offers copious opportunity for really fun parodies of gamer outrage.
36. Total Biscuit
A veritable titan of gaming analysis, John Bain rakes through everything from indie oddities to Triple A behemoths with a fine toothcomb; his immensely popular ‘WTF is…’ series providing a really neat mix of review and first impressions piece as he plays through the initial stages of a new game and reports his feelings on the experience. As articulate as it gets, his meticulously formulated views are always worth listening to.
37. La Blogotheque
An online ‘live lounge’ for cult, up-and-coming and well-known acts alike, this features beautifully shot low-key and intimate performances from some of the finest musical artists around. There’s a sublime variety of genres and styles, and the format often results in some compelling takes on the material.
38. Black Cab Sessions
As the name implies, this is a place you can come to see everyone from Rufus Wainwright to Mumford and Sons strumming away in the back of a taxi. The last upload was 2 years ago, but it’s still worth visiting as a treasure-trove of fun, off-the-wall appearances in the smallest of gig spaces.
39. Ten Second Songs
Showcasing the spectacular versatile voice, musicianship and production skills of Anthony Vincent, you’ll marvel as iconic songs get re-worked in rapid-fire medleys of different styles and genres. Fun, inventive and really quite inspiring.
The LA radio station’s enviable and extensive array of cool alternative live sessions will provide you with hours of entertaining and compelling sessions to devour, with Belle and Sebastian, Death Cab For Cutie and TV On The Radio all appearing in recent months.
Another American radio station that racks up amazing intimate performances and then serves them up for your delectation, this time in Seattle, tons of videos are currently being uploaded each week – with PINS, Palma Violets and Drenge among the most recent deluge of top rock acts.
42. Brett Domino
Their tongue-in-cheek retro covers of famous hits will wow you, as they put everything from stylophones to kazoos to recreate familiar tunes. But what Domino and accomplice Steven Peavis really excel at is deconstructing modern pop songwriting – by demonstrating the simple formula to putting together a catchy number.
43. CGP Grey
From politics to history to pop culture, this guy is adept at taking complex concepts, issues or institutions and breaking them down in a thoroughly interesting and engaging way. Whatever the topic, you’ll likely gain some fascinating facts and insight – all delivered by one of the finest voices on the web.
44. Historia Civilis
Currently specialising in explaining the background, events and tactical triumphs/faux pas of some of history’s greatest battles, this channel is a must for those wanting to brush up on the most extraordinary military engagements of the medieval and ancient worlds.
Want to know what the brightest thing in the universe is? Or why we play games? This extremely cool channel aims to answer life’s tantalising questions – big and small – with the aid of extremely entertaining presentation, production and editing. It’s an extremely fun approach to all those ‘what ifs?’ and ‘how does that work?’ Sister channels Vsauce2 and Vsauce 3 are equally brilliant too.
46. PBS Space Time
Just a few months old but already a complete blast, this is the place to come for both serious insights into the world of space, and an irreverent take on intergalactic affairs and astrophysical issues as well. Sample video title: ‘Could you fart your way to the moon?’
47. The Great War
A week by week account of the unfolding of the First World War, featuring insight into political aspects, cultural context and military engagements, this is fascinating and sobering stuff told with real flair, resulting in a terrific series of mini-documentaries that delve into the unspeakably devastating global conflict.
48. Kurz Gesagt
Neatly explaining some of the most complex yet compelling concepts in modern science, this is the place to come if you want to grasp things like nuclear power, evolution and The Fermi Paradox in a way that’s genuinely interesting. The coolest school lessons you never had.
Food channel writing by Matthew Dunne-Miles