For lifelong fans, this is a time of mourning. For those unaware of this amazing group of internet personalities, here is a devoted fan’s introduction and a farewell to the man who guided the group to reach the level of popularity it has now.
Parents around the world are mystified by the cult of personality surrounding Youtubers and the ever changing trends and memes their children are referencing. Entertainers such as David Dobrick, Liza Koshy and the Paul brothers (Jake & Logan) are blurring the lines between Youtubers and Influencers, creating fervent fan bases that transcend different social media spheres.
This is much different from the early days of YouTube, where channels were niche hubs for people to cultivate audiences. The platform was brand new and people were given the freedom to try their luck at Youtube fame. This gave way to many genres and styles of channels still popular today, such as vlogging, gaming channels, sketch shows, review channels, etc. This is the era of YouTube that I was exposed to in early 2007, a mere two years after the website launched.
Today, the Youtuber Pewdiepie might boast about his 9 year-old army (his 101 million, and counting, subscribers), but when I was 9 years old, there was only one group of entertainers I was willing to enlist for, and that was Inside Gaming.
Starting in 2007, when the highest subscribers count was Smosh’s 148,992 and Youtube channels had Myspace-esque profile pages with dated effects, the show Inside Halo premiered on the channel of the gaming entertainment network, Machinima. The show reported on the video game Halo 3 and it’s community, all done through recorded footage of the game as the hosts mimed through episodes using their in-game avatars. (The term machinima itself means the real-time use of computer graphics engines for the use of video production). While the skeleton crew had few cast of characters, the standout was The DeadPixel, Adam Kovic, who would be the only person left running Inside Halo after a year. The show rebranded as Inside Gaming and went on to become Machinima’s most popular show, as well as one of the most popular sources of gaming news on YouTube.
The show had a revolving number of personalities in the cast and crew over the years— as it goes with entertainment shows on YouTube— the core group being Adam Kovic, Bruce Greene, Lawrence Sonntag, Joel Rubin, Sean Poole, James Willems, and Matt Peake. Over the next eight years, they provided daily coverage of the video game industry, created game reviews, and eventually, hilarious playthroughs of terrible games on their own channel. As the fanbase grew, so did the desire for having these fun, over-the-top personalities create content of their own, including a Q&A series that rarely gave a serious answer, adult swim-inspired montages and edits of their content, and the popular Inside Gaming Awards show.
They ran Inside Gaming until early 2015, when they announced they would be leaving Machinima. It was not all that surprising to fans, as the company is notorious for their terrible work culture that abused the passion of it’s workers, straining them with overwhelming workloads and impossible goals. The crew announced they would be joining Rooster Teeth, a rival entertainment company, under the new name Funhaus.
Working with much more impunity than before, Funhaus kept the traditional content Inside Gaming was known for, along with newer concept shows audiences fell in love with. Demo Disks featured old PC game demos the gang would try out and riff off of, in a style similar to Mystery Science Theater 3000. Their podcast, Dude Soup, hosted by Lawrence Sonntag, is a long running series that covers the best in gaming news, latest pop culture drama, and the weirdness of the internet (an inspiration for this column). Drunk Streams are always a highlight, becoming even funnier at their expense, since they are older now and have to work around binge drinking in creative ways, like the most recent White Claw, Mario Maker gameplay. With the dissolution of Machinima, they regained the rights to Inside Gaming, once again providing daily gaming news on the separate channel.
New cast members, such as Elyse Willems (an underrated performer who is up there with the greatest of comediennes), bring their own flavor of comedy that meshed wonderfully with the other crew. As the cast grew bigger, the projects grew more ambitious, and the running jokes more ridiculous. Despite the original members such as Joel Rubin and Sean Poole, leaving for greener pastures, it felt like nothing could stop Funahus’ surprising rise in subscribers and fandom.
The issue with most entertainment channels on YouTube is they are usually hosted by fresh-faced twenty year olds who desperately try to resonate with a younger audience, usually losing all resemblance of authenticity and totally alienating all viewers in the process.
The reason for Funhaus’ continued success is the entertainers have grown with their audience. Years in the gaming/entertainment industry have led the group to cultivate on-screen personas that are exaggerations of how they feel. These veterans of the platform make no attempt to hide the fact that they are jaded adults who are very much done with antics of the industry, but have a deep love for games and geek culture they can never break apart from.
While it may look like everyone just plays games for a living (wouldn’t that be nice), everyone in the crew does a lot of work behind the scenes, especially Bruce Greene.
Bruce is most known for his affable on-screen personality and outrageous quotes, which I would be remiss if not to include a few of my favorites:
“Ska came before Reggae.”
“We get it and That’s it!” (re: oral sex)
“Let children masturbate.”
These, out of context, rantings and ravings are exactly what you will hear fans shout at each other. Fan events and conventions have his quotes bouncing off the wall a mile a minute— a testament to how beloved the absurdist performer is. The following is a best of Bruce Greene, compiled by the Funhaus team as a personal farewell to the wheezing, farting ska fan:
While his on-screen persona is what fans are most familiar with, his behind the scene role is the real backbone of the group. Known as a caring manager that always fights for his coworkers, Bruce Greene commands with experience and genuine love for his work. Working for years at big entertainment firms, such as G4, the gaming-centric television channel, Machinima, and recently, under Rooster Teeth, has made Bruce the premier manager and producer of attention gathering content on the internet, a place that still mystifies older media executives.
He announced September 3rd, after a month long sabbatical, he will be leaving Rooster Teeth and start pursuing his own business venture. After years of building widely successful brands for other companies, he’d like to dedicate time to build his own brand through Youtube and Twitch streaming.
It’s endearing that such a prolific figure in the recent years of gaming culture, who can easily land a bigger salary at a big name media company, is willing to try his luck on Youtube and finally have the creative freedom to do whatever he wants. His genuine passion for the platform and community that truly resonates with fans, myself included.
While a few old members of Inside Gaming have long gone, it feels like an end of an era with Bruce’s departure. Lawrence Sonntag explained in the farewell video, “If I were a viewer, it would be [like] the breaking of the Fellowship.”
As a viewer, I’d say it is a fitting analogy.
Bruce will continue to appear on Funhaus videos as a guest and friend of the show, so there is bound to be more outrageous antics from old Papa Bruce. As a fan who owes a lot of my own passions and interests to him and the Inside Gaming/Funhaus crew, I wish him all the best in his venture.
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Based in New Jersey, Vickram Singh is a staff editor for Honeysuckle Magazine, where he runs his column: Raised by the Internet. He is also the Managing Editor and staff writer for The Medium, the satirical newspaper at Rutgers University, where he currently studies.