By Brice Bai
Over the past few years, YouTube has become a popular platform for all kinds of videos ranging from short films, music, beauty tutorials, gaming and more. YouTubers have grown to become famous online personalities, and their influence is reaching far beyond the digital screen through other popular forms of media such as television, books, and radio or through the fashion, beauty, movie or music industries.
Dan Howell (danisnotonfire) and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil) are two of the most popular vloggers on YouTube. Based in London, they have been creating humorous content in their respective channels about their musings on life, their nerdy interests and their friendship for the past ten years. They often appear in each other’s vlogs and have a joint gaming channel together.
Dan (left) and Phil (right) love drawing cat whiskers on each other.
If you want to get to know them better, watch Phil’s awkward childhood stories videos, Dan’s reasons why he’s a fail series, and their Phil is Not on Fire series. I challenge you not to laugh or smile at all through them (you probably don’t have a soul if you can do it).
Dan and Phil even have a BBC radio show, a book (The Amazing Book is Not on Fire), and are in the middle of their second tour, The Amazing Tour is Not on Fire (TATINOF)! Once I found out that they were coming to the US for TATINOF, I had already mentally bought the tickets. It was perfect timing—my AP Euro exam would be over, I’d be done with my youth orchestra for the season and my schedule would be lightened up by then. Even if a car ran over me (which was how I felt about the AP Euro exam), I would still crawl across the streets to see them perform live.
The only British Invasion that I’m ecstatic for.
When I bought the tickets, I just so happened to nab the only seat right next to the one my friend had already gotten. You can’t deny that that wasn’t a sign from fate telling me I needed to be there.
Alright, here’s where the spoilers start. Turn back now or forever hold your peace.
TATINOF came down to EJ Thomas Hall in Akron on May 7th. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect—I only knew that it was a partially scripted and partially improvised performance. When we arrived at the venue, there were activities set up that would appear during the show it was Dan and Phil’s version of having audience participation without potentially calling out a person who would rather die than be called up on stage (see Dan’s video on Audience Participation Fear for more details).
As we entered the stage area, Brittany Spears’s ‘Toxic’ was playing, and the audience was absolutely jamming out. It was the most packed that I had ever seen in EJ. On stage, there was a giant microwave with a screen on it, a huge, explosion-shaped standing cutout with emojis and memes behind the microwave, mini-TVs and several other quirky props lying around. Dan’s voice suddenly came over the speakers, and all hell broke loose as thousands of female screams penetrated the stuffy air. Alas, it was only a prerecorded message from Dan and Phil on audience etiquette, but it was also the signal that the show was starting soon.
The lights completely shut down, and the cheering shot up once more. It was time.
The microwave lit up and played clips of the pair’s YouTube videos. Everybody’s growing anticipation made me feel like I was about to burst, but the true explosion came when the real Dan and Phil stepped out of the microwave. I didn’t think that the screams could grow even louder, but never underestimate the lung capacity of an ecstatic fangirl.
After the noise trickled down and the two said their hellos, Phil challenged Dan to state three facts about Akron, which was a bit of a struggle for Dan since he could only stammer out compliments about Ohio as his facts. Once the entire introduction was over, Dan and Phil began setting the show’s “story” of how they came to the US: Phil microwaved his laptop, which caused the internet to explode into the real world. Therefore, all the YouTube comments (aka the audience) became real people too! So now, Dan and Phil have to bring their video series to life in order to continue doing their job.
Phil kept trying to play the situation off as a new start for him to launch a singing career. He’d constantly call for the lights to go down, a single spotlight to shine on him, and jazzy show-tune music to play, but Dan unfortunately kept stopping him for the sake of everyone’s ears (can’t you let a boy live a dream, Dan?). The duo agreed to move on to do the first segment of the show together—7 second challenges!
Either you nail it or you fail it!
A treasure chest on stage began to glow. Dan opened it up and took out another smaller box shaped like a Mario mystery cube, which contained the challenges. From spelling words backwards to doing strange impressions, Dan and Phil competed against each other to see who could win the most challenges. Whoever won could do whatever they wanted next. Phil ended up winning, so he decided to bring one of his other dreams to life—being a magician.
Stereotypical magician music started playing, and Phil swiftly put on a vest and black top hat. He did some real magic tricks, such as making items disappear, transforming things into other objects, and pulling a long string of paper out of his mouth (the front row even snatched the paper away like he was gifting them their first-born child when he threw it off stage). Phil’s final trick was placing Dan in a box and magically giving him llama legs in an attempt to turn him into a full llama. Dan decided to try and get his human legs back by going back into the microwave, and that left Phil alone on stage to start the next segment.
One of Phil’s popular video series is his reasons why he was a weird kid, so this was another pre-show activity you could do where you explain why you were a weird kid. He started off by telling his own childhood story of when he wanted a cast—because his friend had one, and he thought that it was cool—which resulted in him attempting to break his arm several times. Dan came back from the microwave with his own legs, and the two began to read the reasons that the audience had submitted. The strangest one was from a woman who claimed that she used to stuff rocks and Barbie shoes up her nose.
Phil decided to leave the stage through the microwave afterwards, leaving Dan alone with the audience. Another little box starting glowing. A confused Dan pulled a telephone out, and the song for his Internet Support Group series began playing. Internet Support Group is where Dan sarcastically and seriously answers questions sent from viewers, but in the show, he answered questions like he was a phone help line. This was also a pre-show activity that people could participate in. Some questions were: How do I cope with the new Instagram update? How can I stop watching YouTube when I should be studying for my exams? How did I let my kids drag me to see these two people?
The official cover for Internet Support Group.
The microwave door popped open again once Dan finished answering questions, and Phil rolled in, pushing a shopping cart with a lit-up letter P adhered in front of it. The cart was full of nifty crafts that people sent to them before the show. This segment was based off of Dan and Phil’s April Fool’s channel, DanAndPhilCRAFTS, which contains parody craft tutorial videos that are always uploaded on April Fool’s Day. Dan went into the microwave too and pulled out his own shopping cart. The duo went through the items in them, grinning at each one. People sent in potatoes with their face and their fringe drawn on, little dolls of them in a doll room, a pop-up book, paintings, and more.
When Dan and Phil finished checking out all the crafts, they decided to see how they could mess with the microwave more. Phil started randomly pressing its buttons, and the two went inside, unsure of what would come next. The number on the microwave changed into the number 2016, and that number began increasing faster and faster. Dan and Phil were time traveling! The microwave screen began showing images of their future, such as TATINOF on the moon, Phil banning cheese, Dan banning colored clothing, and Dan and Kanye (DanYe) winning the 2024 presidential elections. The microwave stopped at 2083. Everyone held their breath as we waited to see how they would come up, and the screaming started up again when they hobbled on stage looking like typical, hunched-over elderly men. The two carried fold up chairs with them, and they set them down center stage to rest in. Dan and Phil began talking about their favorite memories in their YouTube career over the past seventy five years, and they also started drawing their signature cat whiskers on each other as they reminisced. A futuristic Twitter Q&A was pulled up onto the microwave screen. One of the tweets asked them to set their hip settings to twerk mode for four seconds (bringing another fresh round of howls), but after those four seconds, an exhausted Dan collapsed dead.
Phil dragged Dan back into the microwave so that they could go back to 2016. The Dan of the present rambled about how he’d be doing YouTube his entire life, how he didn’t like dying from twerking, and how he wasn’t sure if by only doing YouTube he was missing out on other life experiences. This led to him collapsing again, but this time it was because he was facing an existential crisis.
Thinking about the reason for your existence is more important than pouring milk.
The microwave immediately started to glitch again, and a new segment flashed onto the screen—Dan and Phil Fanfiction Time! Phil pulled out two scripts for him and Dan out of the microwave, and a female narrator began reading everything except for the dialogue. This was like a “choose your own adventure” fanfiction because the narrator asked the audience every so often what should happen next. First, she asked if the two should be pirates or cowboys. Cowboys got the most screams, so Dan and Phil put on a vest and cowboy hat from the microwave, and the screen became a background of the Wild West. The duo spoke with a botched American accent, but after a few lines, the narrator asked for a change in setting. Between space and camping, camping won. Cue intimate music. The next question asked was whether we wanted Dan and Phil to bake a birthday cake or have Phil draw Dan like a French girl. The birthday cake only received a few measly shouts, but the second option got a near unanimous reverberating bellow. Dan slowly laid down on his side, Kate Winslet style, and Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On cut in. Dan decided to stop everything before the fanfiction became too steamy.
A flash of light struck the stage, and Phil started mechanically walking, claiming that he couldn’t control his body anymore. Dan also abruptly began walking like a robot, and the two were forced back to the microwave and grabbed a stack of paper plates in there. The narrator asked the last question: Should Dan and Phil do the dishes, or do the dishes? Seeing how there was no other choice for them to do anything but the dishes, this unknown force controlling them made the two throw the paper plates out to the audience (which was heartily gobbled up by the first few rows’ rabid hands).
Before anyone could think of an explanation, the whole room blacked out. Everyone collectively gasped, wondering what would appear once the lights came back on. It was something no one could have ever guessed…
Dramatic music played and a single spotlight shone on a man wearing a papier-mâché head of Dil Howlter, a Sim that Dan and Phil made on their gaming channel. Dil spoke English with Google-Translate-like voice since no one could understand his Sim language. He exclaimed that he had been the one to cause the whole situation as payback for all the relationships Dan and Phil ruined for him in their Sim series, but he also had another message for them.
Fun fact: Dil is actually a representation of what Dan and Phil would look like as one person.
Dil told Dan that he shouldn’t worry about his future and its effects on the world, for his existence is meaningful to his friends and his viewers, even in the distant future. Dil reminded Phil that everyone loved him for the way he is and that he didn’t have to change himself into a magician or a singer. If we didn’t love his true self, why would so many people come to this show?
Since Dil was there, he fixed the microwave for Dan and Phil to return back behind a screen into the internet. Phil tried singing his show-tune one last time, and Dan decided to let him continue. Phil merrily sang away, and at one point he called for Dan to join him in song. It took some persuading, but Dan agreed, and they both went behind the microwave to grab gold-sequined jackets, top hats, and a cane. The two had a Broadway-style choreographed dance routine along with their song, and they looked like they were having the time of their lives. My face and throat hurt so much from all the smiling and screaming, but I didn’t care—I gladly took the pain as long as Dan and Phil could continue making me laugh. Unfortunately, everything good must come to an end, so the two had to step back into the microwave by the end of their song.
TATINOF was an amazing experience that truly made an impact on my friends and me. We were reminded of the importance of Dil’s statements and the importance of enjoying ourselves with entertainment like Dan and Phil. Even though the show is over, the happiness that it brought to me and everyone else will definitely last for a long time.
Sources Cited: media.giphy.com/media