The surreal entertainment channel on YouTube entertains millions of people, but it’s hard to say exactly why. You’ll see low-poly animation models zoom through the air, and make creaking sounds while they clip through their surroundings. They speak like automatons and comment on pop culture. Other videos, like the Duolingo Owl murdering users who skip days on the app, or Moto Moto getting wrecked by Big Chungus, would fit in perfectly with the short-lived Adult Swim show Xavier Renegade Angel. YouTube has become a content vacuum in 2019, so surrealistic digital art like this is refreshing. It’s a channel that breaks all the rules, and thrives because of it.
Samuel S.(he asked his last name be withheld for privacy), known online as surreal entertainment, started the channel while he was still in high school in Sweden. He saw a classmate mess around with a character in a T-Pose, the default unanimated state of 3-D modeled characters (and a glitch in many video games, and something sparked. “I found that really funny,” he told Newsweek. “After realizing I could make my own stupid videos with T-posing characters, I knew what to do.” Spending his free time after school teaching himself the 3-D animation program Blender instead of playing Runescape , he decided to “contribute to the scene on YouTube.”
Describing surreal entertainment as “intentionally bad with absurdist elements that makes it funny to watch,” Samuel took inspiration from YouTubers like Timotainment and pamtri. The earliest videos on the surreal entertainment channel take heavy inspiration from Tim, even copying the same floating head main character.
By his seventh video, Samuel figured out his meme-focused formula. “Burger King foot lettuce” is a 12-second clip of a pair of feet rising into buckets of lettuce, spoofing a popular meme from YouTube channel Top15s. “I had been researching SEO a lot and tried to apply what I had learned to the video in order to maximize the possibility of it becoming recommended to people,” he said. “Apparently, it worked.” The follow-up video added Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and reached an even wider audience. “I sense a new rising legend,” wrote one commenter.
Just a few weeks later, surreal entertainment went actually viral, spoofing the popular meme “Globgogabgalab” and his untimely death. Reaching over a million viewers, Samuel realized his SEO-focused meme attacks could really excel within the YouTube algorithm. Posting short videos, quickly, about trending search terms fueled his channel’s growth. In the past year he’s amassed 57 million views and over 680,000 subscribers.
surreal entertainment shows no signs of slowing down, currently posting at least one video a week. Samuel has started studying computer science and engineering, and although he has considered making surreal entertainment his full-time job, it’s something he still does in his spare time.
Being a YouTube creator comes with its own set of challenges, especially when using copyrighted characters like Thanos or Shaggy. But Samuel has managed to avoid copyright issues on the platform, mainly by creating his own custom models. Only one of his videos has been demonetized, meaning he can’t make any ad revenue off of it, but he isn’t happy about it
“The part of the lyrics I used were generated by a text to speech service, so getting demonetized because of that felt a bit unfair,” he said.
This means he has to keep his memes fresh. He said a video can take anywhere from 10 to 40 hours to produce depending on length, scene complexity and total character models. Though some of his fans feel the low-poly style must also be low-effort, the real work happens in the research. To find the best memes, Samuel checks a Discord for his fans and a group of YouTuber friends that constantly share new content. Following channels like Grandayy and Dolan Dark helps too. But when it comes to style, surreal entertainment makes the best content look bad as possible.