When older relatives ask Brian David Gilbert, A&S '16, about his career, he tells them he's a "writer and video producer," but the truth is much more complicated. He's a YouTuber with over a million subscribers, a writer, an actor, a producer, and a musician. His YouTube channel is filled with skits, songs, and a 30-minute guide to U.S. health insurance terms. His résumé lists even more projects, from voice acting in Fionna and Cake, the newest spin-off of the animated television show Adventure Time, to creating a series of viral videos for the gaming website Polygon in which he slowly goes insane while talking about video games.
Even Gilbert's video ideas, which he says come to him at random, fail to be easily categorized. His work is a roulette of comedy, horror, and music—or all of the above.
"When you boil it down, horror and comedy are essentially the same thing," Gilbert says. "They both require you to have your expectations reversed at some point. ... And I've always loved music."
Gilbert initially wanted to become a science writer after graduating from Johns Hopkins but struggled to get hired. With free time on his hands, the new grad decided to hone his video editing skills, creating content for the YouTube channel he had started in seventh grade. Those videos eventually earned him a job as a video producer at Polygon, setting the rest into motion.
"I don't think I started pursuing this career path with the intention of it becoming a career path. I think I just started doing it because I was astoundingly bored and could not get a job otherwise," he says. "It worked out way better than it should have, to be perfectly honest."
These days, Gilbert mostly works with Karen Han, his partner in writing and life. The engaged couple met as employees at Polygon, where Han was a film critic. After a year or two of dating, the duo realized that they spent all their time making commentary about other people's art and wondered what it'd be like to write something new together.
According to Gilbert, Han tends to be the pragmatic and organized one while he's "much more haphazard."
"Most of our arguments are when we are writing together, which I think is a good thing, because … it means we're both super passionate," he says. "I'm so happy that I get to write with her."
On the side, Gilbert works as a voice actor, lending his talents to characters in Adventure Time and the hit video game Starfield.
Although his current career is a far cry from science writing, Gilbert says he's pleased with where he's ended up. Now, the only question is which wacky idea to tackle next.
"In a perfect world, I'd love to run shows with my partner and make big, weird things together," Gilbert says. "When I was younger, I wanted to be the one doing everything by myself. … Now, I want to surround myself with amazing creatives, and I want to work with them. I want to compile all our good ideas into one really beautiful thing."
Watch this first: If it's a Hopkins alum, I'd recommend watching the health insurance video I did because it's slightly more academic than my other ones. But if you're a silly person, you could watch the video where I read every Halo novel.
Favorite video game: From the past six years or so, Celeste.
Favorite character archetype: I love to play little twerps.
Biggest career inspiration: Quinta Brunson.
Favorite video he's made: Siblings, because it's a video of me and my real-life siblings, and I love them so much. ... It's just such a pure encapsulation of that time and of our bond.
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