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MediaOctober 12, 2016

On this day: David Blaine tops off YouTube’s greatest year


Today marks the 10th anniversary of one of YouTube’s first viral videos. To celebrate, Madeleine Chapman looks back on 2006, the year of stellar YouTube content.

October 12 has always been an eventful day in our history. On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus reached land in The Bahamas. In 1773, America’s first insane asylum was opened. On October 12 1977, July 21-born Josh Hartnett’s parents may or may not have conceived a handsome son. In 1988, Sam Whitelock was born and in 1999, Wilt Chamberlain died. But most importantly and most recently, on October 12, 2006, the video ‘David Blaine Street Magic: Youtube Edition!’ was uploaded to the then fairly new video-sharing platform.

The David Blaine parody is perhaps still the greatest YouTube video of all time. It’s everything you want in a YouTube video: not overly long, funny, mocks someone famous, and could maybe be real. You can tell this one’s a classic because it can’t even fit in the frame properly anymore.

So few pixels
So few pixels

It’s an incredibly well-made parody of David Blaine’s famous ‘one take’ magic tricks. In a world before rampant social media, it could almost be believable. I only say this because I distinctly remember thinking it was 100% real and assuming that a drawn-on goatee was part of David Blaine’s real life aesthetic. In 2006 I was 12 and old enough to know better but that’s the power of a great YouTube video.

‘David Blaine Street Magic: YouTube Edition!’ wasn’t the only viral video to come out of 2006. In fact, the following videos – in chronological order – still periodically make the rounds on social media because, although there have been a million others just like them in the past ten years, you can’t beat the originals.

Note: Some of the videos have NSFW language but I won’t say which ones because if you’re someone who watches videos at work and doesn’t wear headphones, you deserve to get fired.

17th March 2006 – Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama

Before Antoine Dodson and Sweet Brown, there was the Crichton community of Mobile, Alabama. Nowadays, a funny news clip will emerge approximately every 24 seconds, burn bright with muted views on Facebook, then die a silent death. The Mobile Leprechaun has lived on because it’s two full minutes of local reporting gold (great pun), with the greatest witness sketch in television history.


26th March 2006 – Nintendo 64

I have witnessed my four year old nephew not be able to sit still for my 10 second joke and then quietly watch a full 30 minute video showing a pair of white hands unwrapping Kinder Surprises. Once I’d stopped crying in disbelief, I realised the obsession with watching someone unwrap something isn’t exactly a recent fad. Kids love the unboxing of toys, women love the unboxing of makeup, and everyone loved this unwrapping of a Nintendo 64.

6th April 2006 – Evolution of Dance

Jimmy Fallon Shmimmy Shmallon. Fallon’s endless “Evolution of” skits include rap (Justin Timberlake), Mom dancing (Michelle Obama), and hip-hop dancing (Will Smith). But they all borrowed their concept from this video and this man. It’s not that funny, no one gets hurt or humiliated, and anyone could do it with a few dance lessons. Yet somehow it still went viral with almost 300 million views. Heartwarming.

10th July 2006 – Home Shopping Blooper (FUNNY!)

It’s probably the worst video title in history but at least it’s informative because yes, it’s a Home Shopping Blooper and yes, it’s FUNNY! There’s nothing to say about this one except I still wee a little every time I watch it.

1st August 2006 – “Boemerang”: Erik Hartman laughs at his guests. Subtitled.

Another informative title. This one I actually thought was real until two days ago, and I’m pretty sure everyone else who watched it outside of Germany also believed it really happened. But even as a sketch, it’s pretty good. Back in 2006, people had the gall to upload videos longer than 60 seconds so this one, at over six minutes, might feel like watching Return of the King but stick with it and bask in the superiority of never having laughed at someone’s disability on live television.

30th November 2006 – Flea Market Montgomery – Long Version

With all the armageddon coverage coming out of America these days, thank goodness this beautiful clip exists.

Millions of hours of footage are uploaded to YouTube every day, but all the popular ones are derived in some way from these early hits. Oddballs on the news, dancing, bloopers, and parodies. 2006 laid the foundation for funny, creative online content. It was so hopeful, full of potential and anticipation. But then that same year, Twitter was launched and the human race began its slow, inevitable descent into hell.

Keep going!