ANAHEIM, Calif. — When a workplace issue rocked their group and broke the internet, The Try Guys went from four members to three.
Now, the beloved YouTubers have entered their «tri-guy» era, and their fans still enthusiastically follow them.
In their first appearance at VidCon since breaking ties with founding member Ned Fulmer in October, Try Guys co-creators Zach Kornfeld and Keith Habersberger received overwhelming support at the annual conference for digital creators, fans, executives and brands. online. (Co-creator Eugene Lee Yang was not present.)
The group rose to popularity on YouTube for their vlog-style review videos in which they would try out things like trying out entire menus at popular food chains or trying out a machine that simulates the pain of childbirth. His success has launched books, a Food Network television series, merchandise, and media ventures.
But in September 2022, amid internet speculation, Fulmer said in a statement posted to his verified Twitter account that he had «lost focus and had a consensual working relationship.» group at the forefront of mainstream attention.
Months later, fans both old and new said they were ready to put that viral saga behind them.
«I think after everything they’ve been through, seeing them bounce back and get through that has been very inspiring,» said Chad Sahilan, who has watched Try Guys videos for nearly five years.
He said that the volume of attention surrounding the cheating incident felt «out of proportion» and that he was impressed with the three remaining members’ «graceful» handling of the ensuing publicity crisis.
Sahilan was among hundreds who turned up to see Kornfeld and Habersberger, who appeared on a panel and recorded a podcast live on stage during the conference.
Having followed The Try Guys since their BuzzFeed days, Ryan Montoya said she was thrilled to see Kornfeld and podcast producer Miles Bonsignore, whom she now sees essentially as a fourth Try Guy, live for the first time.
Montoya said he has felt a change of atmosphere since the group put the Fulmer scandal behind them last year. Its content seems more carefree, she said, and the members seem almost happier.
“I think they are doing better for themselves. In fact, they are making videos that I think they enjoy more often,” she said. “I mean, they’re literally vlogging in the car. It’s amazing.»
In an interview with NBC News at VidCon, Kornfeld and Habersberger said last year’s sudden virality appears to have rejuvenated interest in their content among some older fans, those who first tuned in when BuzzFeed dominated YouTube in the mid-1990s. 2010, which allowed The Try Guys to update their perspectives on what they intend to do as creators.
“The fans were incredibly supportive and really wonderful. They still are,» Habersberger said. «Some are very sweet and actually bring it up when they meet us, and they’re like, ‘I’m so happy you’re still here and doing things.'»
I’d rather have a small group of people actually ride or die for what we’re doing than go viral.
-Zach Kornfeld, co-creators of Try Guys
Over the past year and into the near future, Habersberger and Kornfeld said The Try Guys are focusing on cultivating projects they’re passionate about rather than chasing big numbers. That, they said, means passing on opportunities that they know would get easy views but don’t align with the content they really want to produce.
“We’re allowing the brand to evolve, and that means a lot of things: content to evolve, our cast to evolve,” Kornfeld said. «We’re giving ourselves the freedom and permission to experiment and do crazy things, things that might not be responsible from an algorithmic perspective.»
But for some newer fans, including VidCon attendee Amber Marley, the flurry of attention surrounding the Fulmer scandal was what put The Try Guys on their radar in the first place. Marley said she vaguely knew about the group beforehand, but she didn’t really discover its content until she saw the explainer video, which generated so much internet buzz that it was faked on «SNL.»
From that point on, Marley said, he began exploring the group’s other videos. She said that she constantly entertained The Try Guys’ willingness to put themselves in awkward situations just for the experience.
“It’s really cool that they’re trying all kinds of different things, even if it puts them in a bit of a bind of, ‘I don’t think I’m going to like this,’” Marley said. «I think if you have the option to try something you haven’t tried and it’s not too crazy, you should definitely give it a try.»
Experiencing fan support at a real-life event like VidCon, Kornfeld said, reminded him how «mind-bogglingly significant» it is that millions of viewers resonate with what The Try Guys do. He said that as the group continues to advance as a brand, he looks to cultivate a stronger relationship with his existing fan base.
«I’d rather have a small group of people actually ride or die for what we’re doing than go viral,» Kornfeld said. “We are done going viral. I don’t need that anymore.