In November 2019, renowned gaming YouTubers Mark Fischbach (Markiplier) and Ethan Nester (CrankGameplays) changed their profile pictures to white and black, respectively, and posted ominous videos on their personal channels with the same title: “This Will End in One Year”. They were referring to their newest collaboration, a self-destructing YouTube channel called Unus Annus (Latin for “One Year”). Their intention was simple: upload one video every day for an entire year. At the end of the 365 days, they would delete everything.
Their controversial surprise shocked the YouTube community. No one had done something like this before. Success in content creation comes from gaining views & subscribers over time. Not from making content with the intention of losing everything. Apparently, not even Mark’s manager was privy to the experimental project (I can only imagine what that phone call was like).
The channel quickly grew a strong cult following, breaking 1 million subscribers in its first week. Underlying the comedic nature of the videos was a constant reminder of the inevitability of death. They even outlined a promise that if one of them were to die during the year, the other would continue the channel. This obsession with impermanence proved to be sickeningly addictive. Everyone wanted to be a part of this farfetched ride. To experience something unique and special before it was over. Each video is bookmarked with a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds leading up to its inevitable end.
That clock runs out this Friday. This short list of videos will give you a flavor of the unique channel before it is nothing more than rumors on Reddit.
1. Cooking with Sex Toys
The first video uploaded to the channel (after the introductory video) sets the tone for Unus Annus right away, receiving 1.1 million views in its first 72 hours. Mark and Ethan make an all-American breakfast using sex toys in place of kitchen utensils. Substitutions include a leather flogger for a whisk, a variety of paddles for spatulas, and a very creative drill attachment for an electric mixer.
This video establishes the kind of genuine, stumbled-upon humor that the channel becomes cherished for: two men attempt to take themselves semi-seriously while carrying out an absolutely ridiculous task. We are also introduced to other beloved characters of the channel, including three dogs and Mark’s girlfriend/camerawoman/voice of reason, Amy.
In a perfect example of this fortuitous comedy, the video ends after a stranger knocks unexpectedly on Mark’s door. He briefly witnesses the scene of a camera filming Ethan shoveling pancakes into Mark’s ball-gagged mouth. A feedback loop of contagious laughter ensues. Unus Annus is born.
2. 2 Grown Men Attempt the Presidential Fitness Test
At first sight, this video seems pretty straightforward. Two grown men attempt to pass the Presidential Fitness Test, a grueling series of physical exercises imposed on American middle-schoolers (ending more often in humiliation and trauma than in success). However, this video marks a pretty big moment for the duo’s dynamic.
Taking a joke “too far” is a well-trodden obstacle in improv comedy. It’s imperative to find and establish the line between “funny” and “annoying”. Sometimes, that line isn’t a line at all. Sometimes, it’s a circle. In this case, it’s a hole in the drywall made by Mark, who after being antagonized so relentlessly by Ethan, dismounts the stationary bike he was on and literally punches a hole in the wall. Boundaries were established. Apologies were made. Fingers may have been broken? Either way, it’s a legendary Unus Annus moment.
3. Preparing a 5-Star Meal for Our Youtube Famous Dogs
One of the most referenced inside jokes from the Unus Annus experience originates in this video. Ethan’s cheesy “Let’s Get Cooking” line quickly turns into a meme-worthy moment. Crossing their arms and assuming a back to back stance, the two goofballs smile and force-chuckle directly into the camera. The humor really shines through the editing, adding graphics and music to solidify the mood. It immediately transforms into the bit that keeps on giving.
4. Mark Teaches Ethan How to March in a Marching Band
This one is a must-see for all you marching band nerds out there, and my personal favorite. Watching Mark progressively remember the mechanics of a marching band illuminates a truth that all band nerds live with: that the experience has been burned into our memories so deeply, we will never truly forget it, no matter how many years it’s been since our last field show. Prepare yourself for 30 seconds of pure side-splitting laughter from 12:05-12:35. Also, kudos to Mark for acknowledging how insanely difficult it is to play drums whilst marching (yes I was on the drumline, yes his point still tracks).
5. DIY Cheese
Ethan’s invents the infamous “Dance of Italy”, and the Internet will never forget it. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Just complete, unbridled nonsense. The purest form of comedy. And despite not having any real semblance of song structure, this bit of audio will somehow still manage to get stuck in your head on repeat.
6. We Got Pepper Sprayed
While Unus Annus is generally considered to be a comedy channel, this video really showcases its breadth. There is something undeniably and morbidly fascinating about watching two famous Let’s Players get pepper-sprayed in the face. Maybe it’s the curiosity of wanting to know the ins and outs of such a painful experience. Maybe their familiar characters make such an unsavory experience more palatable. Unus Annus is a channel that can truly create any kind of content; the only ingredients to the equation are Mark, Ethan, and an idea. And also some really choice editing humor (Ethan’s “hello” subtitled as “HELP”).
TL;DR. Recreating Every Single Unus Annus Video
If you’re just discovering the channel now, unfortunately, you do not have enough time left to watch every video made. But do not fear, a summary is here! In this 45-minute marathon recap, you can experience the best jokes from every Unus Annus video, while simultaneously watching Mark and Ethan’s mental states slowly unravel into complete chaos. This ambitious endeavor might have even been more painful for them to endure than getting pepper-sprayed.
The duo will delete the Unus Annus channel and all of its content following a live stream on YouTube on Friday, November 13th, 12pm PST. All fan-made archives and reuploads will be given a cease and desist notice.
A lover of storytelling across all genres. Endlessly searching for the balance between consumption and creation. High hopes that writing on the internet will lessen the amount of time I spend in unrequited discourse with my cat.