YouTube Comedian Daniel Howell Comes to Santa Barbara’s Lobero
A Q&A with the British Vlogger, Who Talks Fame, Sexuality, Jesus, and His Favorite Taylor Swift Song
A witty and thoughtful jack-of-all-trades sitting comfortably at more than 6 million YouTube subscribers, Daniel Howell arguably led the British vlogger boom of 2013, having since maintained enough dedication from fans to propel a 2022 world tour (We’re All Doomed!).
“When you see people in real life, when I say a joke on a stage and people laugh and clap, it makes me feel [like] wow, this is a real beautiful moment … it gives me the energy to keep going. I’m really grateful for everyone that has supported me. I feel incredibly privileged to be going on a tour. I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I’m doing now,” says Howell, who is ecstatic to be performing comedy live to fans this year, including a stop at the Lobero on December 5.
You made your start in YouTube and gained a huge platform there. In a recent video, you talked about your qualms with the platform, and you’ve mentioned in other interviews that the pressure at times would lead to you staying up late with existential crises. Oh yeah, every day.
You also speak about mental health in your live show. Can you describe how blowing up on a platform like that can take a toll on your mental health? Were there things that came with fame that most people don’t know about? I think that humans are very delicate … having an iPhone … that is so complicated. Social media — what is going on? Humans aren’t really supposed to perceive themselves on such a scale. People aren’t meant to handle that kind of pressure.
Do you think, in a way, it stunted your personal development? As in, you just got started? Oh, 100 percent. I complain about this to all my friends. What if I wanted the mess? No one ever asked me. I’m resentful of it.
The tour thus far has been full of hilarity, both planned and unplanned. What’s one of the most notable moments? I ripped my ass open live on stage. Someone yelled the c-word at me. I was so shocked I popped a squat … and I ripped the entire knee-to-butt section of my suit open in front of a thousand people.
That is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. Yeah, just trauma dumping.
I really liked reading some pieces you did on your coming out journey. [The video addressing his sexuality has since garnered more than 12 million views.] You’ve mentioned a lot about the freedom that came with that. I feel so much lighter and freer. Being able to go around in the world just feeling like I am myself … that is profound. Which is why I’m enjoying this tour so much right now! I’m having my hot boy autumn.
What’s been the most beautiful change to your life after coming out that you may have not expected? There was a … feeling that I was wearing a suit of chainmail my whole life. And the moment I said “I’m some kind of queer,” it just immediately dropped on the floor…. People have gone, “I can’t wait to see what Dan’s like now that he’s out and proud.” It turns out, what I do is I buy a slutty nun costume from Spirit Halloween and I go to a drag bar in Nashville, Tennessee, dressed as a slutty nun at 3 a.m.
Do you ever get recognized when you’re in your slutty nun costume? Oh yeah. Someone who was dressed as an angel said, “I went to your show yesterday!” And then a really sweaty boy wearing a fur suit head came in, and it was just a furry, but just wearing the head and the gloves, and I said … it’s time to go to bed.
If you like sexy nuns, you should watch Little Hours with Aubrey Plaza. Oh really? Okay! I’ll have a sexy nun awakening — thank you!
Speaking on religion, you’ve said, “I’ve had a strange journey with Christianity in my life … Does he love me? Is he ashamed of my choices? But I feel like Jesus loves everyone, man. You know?” Was religion part of your life growing up at all? My grandma was basically like Sandra Bullock from The Blind Side in that she meant well but I think she has a lot of dusty opinions… She’s on a journey of becoming quite woke and we love that for her.
How was meeting Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift was one of the nicest and most professional people ever. When I had my stint working at the BBC … some had these terrible reputations … and the one time we met Taylor, she individually shook everyone’s hand, and she said thank you to everyone. That made an impression, like, if you’re someone as obnoxiously, unbelievably successful as her, it is appreciated that she at least goes to the effort to make everyone feel welcome. Thank you, Taylor, for giving me good values.
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You mentioned how your relationship with Phil [Phil Lester] is not even a friendship; he’s just like a piece of furniture because you are the same now. Absolutely.
Can you elaborate on that dynamic? You can’t even compare … no human has lived and worked together and actually started off as “supposedly” friends before that, so it’s just not natural. We’re like two 4,000-year-old tortoises just silently chewing grass, staring into the sunset. I think it’s quite important to have someone in your life where you can be like “Yeah, we’re pretty weird.”
That’s so sweet! Is there anything you wished you were asked during an interview? I just think … it just makes me incredibly happy that all these people are coming to see me in real life and they’re having a good time and that after all of these years of my accidental clown career after I started on the internet, the fact that we’re all here, we’re all old, we’re hurtling towards our inevitable deaths and we’re still somehow vibing. I’m just very proud of all of us. So thank you.
I agree! You said you make playlists before your shows. If you had to make one for your life … which ones would you pick? It would just be the Titanic theme tune on loop. One hundred percent. That’s me.
Are you more like Celine Dion or Mariah Carey? Ooh, that’s tough. I mean, I feel like I’m more Celine Dion day to day, but I feel like I’m one of those people where once “All I Want For Christmas” comes on, I will sing along. I’m waiting for my first Mariah jump scare as I’m walking around … we’ll see what happens.
I know that you’ve talked about almost trying to perform your authenticity, and also not even knowing it at times because you’re trying to keep up with audiences at times. Exactly.
What was the way you got yourself to circle back to yourself and be able to stay yourself and know who you actually were? It’s very hard. I have the privilege of being incredibly neurotic in a way, so by default, I’m always self reflecting far too much and getting stressed about it. It’s in those 1 a.m. existential crises that you find yourself looking at the mirror with your hands pressed against it, looking into your eyes, going, “Who am I? What am I doing? Why?” Then I go, “I’ve only got one life; might as well do the things I actually enjoy.”
Even though Howell’s intimate details are known to the point where it’s “absolutely true” that his online followers know him “better than most of [his] family,” he shared some important, previously unrevealed information.
Personality type? INFJ, which is the Jesus-slash-Hitler one, which checks out … Jesus is cool.
Pie thoughts? Key lime made me so high I was in a different dimension.
Do you and Phil speak with words? Not really, just strange noises from across the room to indicate somebody needs to unload the dishwasher.
Favorite Taylor Swift song? “Anti-Hero,” of course. I see myself in that song, and it’s a bop.
Did you actually hang the masterpiece Taylor Swift drew of you on your wall? It’s in my memorabilia unit.
Speaking of memorabilia units, what is your favorite piece in your unit? Someone gave me a piece of art that was Mr. Pringle. With a sexy man-body. Having a lap dance by Crash Bandicoot wearing a pair of booty shorts. And I said, “why did you make this?” And they said, “I just thought it was funny.” And it is so cursed. It is the most horrible art we have ever seen … it is just horrible … I am so grateful for my talented community that are … making beautiful pieces of art like that.
What is Daniel Howell’s legacy? It feels wonderful to be creating memories and moments for people…. And I think that when I inevitably die, which could be at any moment — random meteor, alien invasion, or the ice melting in Iceland as I’m doing my last show — I just want people to know that from me…. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are always more powerful and happier within yourself the more authentic you are. As hard as it may be, you shouldn’t waste any time. [Be] your true self, no matter what that is. Life is fleeting. We owe it to ourselves to live it to the max all the time.
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