- Josh Pieters / YouTube
- Josh Pieters has quickly earned a reputation in YouTube comments as being one of the “most underrated” creators on the platform.
- With the help of his friend, magician Archie Manners, he “answers questions you didn’t know you had.”
- Some of his latest videos include hatching a quail from a supermarket egg, tricking influencers into promoting gravel, selling microwave meals on Deliveroo, and, finally, fooling the world with a fake Ed Sheeran.
- “It’s that concept of asking a question of something quite silly, is it possible, and then exploring it in a video, and hopefully achieving the right outcome,” Pieters told Insider.
- The biggest challenge is coming up with new ideas, he said. But one thing is for certain – 2020 will see Pieters and Manners push the boundaries of what they can get away with, keeping the channel one of the most interesting on YouTube right now.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Josh Pieters dreamed of being a professional cricket player when he was growing up in the tiny town of Meissner in South Africa. But it was at the start of the season in the UK that he fell ill with glandular fever, and was out of action for six months. With his sport suddenly no longer an option, Pieters started making YouTube videos.
A good friend from his hometown, Caspar Lee, had already found some success on YouTube. He is now considered one of the platform’s originals who has built a following of more than 7 million subscribers over eight years. Pieters had appeared in many of his early videos, so already had an advantageous jumping off point
“I was super fortunate that I was part of this group of YouTubers already,” Pieters told Insider. “They were all my friends, so starting on YouTube was probably a lot easier than it would have been for most people.”
He decided to stay in the UK after six months and scraped together enough money for a deposit on a flat.
“I wasn’t sure how I was gonna pay the first month’s rent,” he said. “But I kept making YouTube videos and it eventually got to a point where YouTube could be my main source of income.”
Becoming one of the ‘most underrated’ YouTubers
Pieters moved on from the “boyband era” of videos he made with his friends towards the type of content he’s posted in the last year that has earned him the reputation of being one of the “most underrated” creators on the platform.
While he’s not ashamed of his old videos, he definitely feels like he’s now making content that his audience, who are growing up with him, will enjoy. The absolute seal of approval comes from his older brother.
“We can’t be all cutesy when we’re 26 anymore,” he said. “So I decided to make a change.”
- Josh Pieters / YouTube
That change came with some social experiments like faking a trip to Coachella and signing up as an Uber driver in London with a military tank. The last year has also seen Archie Manners, a professional magician, become a prominent feature in Pieters’ videos
They struck gold with their new theme that now exists in Pieters’ “About” section on his channel: Answering questions you didn’t know you had.
“It’s that concept of asking a question of something quite silly, is it possible, and then exploring it in a video, and hopefully achieving the right outcome,” Pieters said.
That trend has weaved through several of his latest uploads: hatching a quail from a supermarket egg, tricking influencers into promoting gravel, selling microwave meals on Deliveroo, and finally, fooling the world with a fake Ed Sheeran.
Turning Ty from Manchester into Ed Sheeran
The latter took place on the night of the boxing rematch between Logan Paul and KSI in November. Pieters took a Sheeran lookalike from Manchester, called Ty, who was immediately flooded by Sheeran fans and influencers who attended the event.
“I was so scared because I organized it all on a whim, last minute, and I was just thinking, what if we turn up and some people go, ‘Oh there’s Josh, and who’s that guy who looks a bit like Ed Sheeran?'” Pieters said. “You don’t know what people are gonna think.”
- Josh Pieters / YouTube
The result was even better than they ever expected, with Ty posing for selfies with some of the biggest online stars, and getting invited to super-VIP after-parties hosted by KSI.
“We just had these megastars gravitating towards us, which was such an interesting social experiment because normally there’s no way they would have come to say hello to me,” Pieters said.
“But now that they thought Ed Sheeran was there, they were actually starting to make conversations with me because they didn’t wanna look uncool and bother Ed Sheeran, so they thought they could get an in through me and Caspar.”
Prank videos that always give people ‘a bit of a chance’
On the surface level, these videos are pranks. But they’re also social experiments for Pieters to test what he can get away with.
In LA, for example, Pieters never told anyone Sheeran was with him. They didn’t make a fake ID or spread the news on social media. Everything that happened was just a result of social contagion of people hearing Ed Sheeran was in the room. To Pieters, obviously lying and deceiving would be a lot less interesting than what they pulled off.
“I think we always we always try to, not only from a creative point of view, but also from a slightly moral point of view, not completely dupe someone by breaking the law or doing something really wrong,” Pieters said. “We always try to give people a bit of a chance.”
When tricking reality stars into making ridiculous claims on television, the fake production company he and Manners created, called Invisible Objects, had photos of their “team” on its website. Employees included Colonel Gaddafi, Katie Hopkins, and Julian Assange.
On the site for their Deliveroo “restaurant,” there was an AirPod clearly visible where there should have been feta cheese.
“That makes the video far more interesting because you’re watching thinking, ‘How have these people not clocked this?'” Pieters said. “But it’s amazing what people don’t notice.”
He said it’s a bit like the famous selective attention test by researchers Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, where you have to count how many times players pass a basketball. Spoiler alert: the real perception test has nothing to do with the number, but noticing the man dressed as a gorilla.
“Have you ever had that thing where you’re looking for your keys, and they’re right in front of you, but you don’t see them?” said Pieters. “What I mean by all that is often people don’t notice very blatant things in front of them if they don’t want to or if they’re not looking for it.”
The magic of misdirection also plays a part
Manners’ experience with magic also comes in handy here thanks to his skill of misdirecting people. This allows them to get away with things you might not expect them to.
“He’s good at making people not realize when they’re being tricked, which is what a magician does,” said Pieters. “They make you look one way and then they’re doing something in the other direction, which I guess there’s a lot of what we do in our videos.”
- Josh Peiters / YouTube
The biggest challenge for Pieters is coming up with new ideas. After the fake Ed Sheeran stunt, he said he was feeling a bit stuck.
“I think that comes with all aspects of life, that yin and yang concept, where anything that’s good or bad in your life has this adverse affect,” he said. “Having success and doing well definitely comes with the pressure of continuing to do well. But I try best to not feel that pressure too much.”
While Pieters’ recent videos have all racked up millions of views, he knows that not everything is going to be a hit. He tries to stay “as close to center as possible,” not getting too carried away when things do well, so to not feel too disappointed if one video doesn’t take off in the same way.
But one thing’s for sure – 2020 will bring more social experiments where Pieters and Manners push the boundaries of what they can get away with, keeping the channel as one of the most intriguing and entertaining on YouTube right now.
When asked what he thinks of his “most underrated YouTuber” label, Pieters said he’s felt spoilt with views, especially since hitting his long-term goal of 1 million subscribers.
“These comments on the internet, I can only take it as a compliment,” he said. “But I feel having as many followers as I have, and the amount of views I’m getting at the moment, I feel very lucky. So I wouldn’t describe myself as underrated.”