The Wizards of Aus’s Michael Shanks is the latest in a growing list of digital performers making waves beyond the online world
Jeremy Cassar

22 Jan 2016 - 12:32 PM  UPDATED 4 Feb 2016 - 11:46 AM

Justin Bieber. Two words that are likely to send sharp, unrelenting chills down your spine.

And yet, the Biebs remains a pioneer. A one-man boy band who blazed a new trail to music stardom via YouTube.

More and more, televisual talents are using the platform as launch pads for their own broadcast series. Here are a few examples…


Michael Shanks - timtimfed

As YouTube user timtimfed, Shanks’ channel boasted a unique run of short clips and films that use visual effects to comic effect. A New Zealand-born filmmaker and musician, he remained confident in his uncompromising personal style and let the audience come to him. Of course, as excited as he was to bring The Wizards of Aus to SBS, he acknowledges that a broadcast-only existence is no longer practical. “These days, I don’t think you’d develop a show purely for free-to-air TV,” he says in our interview.


Nicholas Boshier - Bondi Hipsters

One-half of the Bondi Hipsters, Boshier first caught the net’s attention with his character Trent from Punchy (Punchbowl). Though those who have managed to spend some time in Sydney’s Western suburbs could tell it was an act, many others fell for it, and found it hilarious.

He went on to voice the whale in Beached Az, and create the Bondi Hipsters with Christiaan Van Vuuren. Their latest project, the comedy series Soul Mates, aired in 2015.


Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer - Broad City

Though it seems Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City burst into stardom during its first season, that is not the case. Back in 2009, the comedy duo uploaded a series of videos that, while undeniably amateurish, depicted the evolution of two distinct characters that were eventually bound for the small screen. And now the Amy Poehler-produced comedy is almost set to debut its eagerly anticipated third season.


Colleen Ballinger Evans - Miranda Sings

In 2008, Colleen Ballinger Evans took to YouTube as Miranda Sings, a deluded and narcissistic bore who’s somehow likeable. Her comedy comes from misunderstandings, malapropisms, and intentionally bad singing, all of which audiences devour. In 2014, she guest starred on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, and a year later, released a best-selling book.

Just this week, Evans joined the Netflix family, where her show – Haters Back Off – has entered the development process.


Bo Burnham

Young budding comedian Bo Burnham started out on YouTube with a few satirical songs and a vague plan. What he didn’t anticipate is that within a few years he’d sign a deal with Comedy Central to release four albums and a TV special.


Grace Helbig - itsGrace

Helbig’s pop-cultural noodling via her YouTube channel “It’s Grace” has amassed over two million regular subscribers. She created and starred in Camp Takota which was picked up by Netflix, wrote a No.1 The New York Times bestseller, and moved on to create her unconventional take on the conventional talk show, aptly titled The Grace Helbig Show.


Felix Kjellberg - PewDiePie

Kjellberg boasts a ridiculous 40 million subscribers to his bizarre scrapbook of a channel. He has just starred in a Skybound Entertainment-produced (The Walking Dead) subscription-only web series, and is in talks to move to the small screen.


John Luc - MyChonny

Luc hasn’t yet moved to the small screen but it’s only a matter of time, as the YouTube sensation scored the lead role in the Lawrence Leung’s co-written feature film – Sucker. While Luc’s OTT character-based comedy channel has attracted millions of YouTube-ers, his screen debut boasts a more subtle, relatable performance.


Derek Muller - Veritasium

Undeniably the coolest entry on this list, Muller used his knowledge of both science and filmmaking to create an informative and entertaining YouTube channel. And last year, he hosted a three-part doco on the wonders of Uranium.


Watch the entire series of The Wizards of Aus on SBS On Demand.