Machaizelli Kahey, also known as MacDoesIt, describes his YouTube channel as “a cross between ‘intelligently funny’ and ‘an organized hot mess.'” And honestly, that pretty well sums up what you’ll encounter. That is, once you get past the “Bwah” supercut in the channel’s featured video slot. Viewers love Mac’s reviews and reaction videos, which often intertwine irreverent commentary with real conversations on race, sexuality and representation. In 2019, he won the Shorty Award for Best YouTube Comedian and as of November 2020, MacDoesIt has 2.2 million subscribers on YouTube.

We sat down with Mac to discuss his career, his content and his creative workflow. With eight years of experience online, Mac also offers some helpful advice to share with aspiring creators.

MacDoesIt
Subscribers: 2.22M
Uploads: 405
Video Views: 264,482,531
Channel Type: People
User created: Aug 8th, 2012

In the beginning

Mac grew up admiring successful YouTubers through his computer screen. “When I was in middle school, specifically,” Mac recalls, “they were like everything I couldn’t [be]. I never hung out with friends after school; I would just come home and watch [YouTube] videos… I’ve always just seen their lives and seen how they just do whatever they want, and I thought that was really cool.”

“I also did theater for years, and all that stuff,” Mac explains. “The idea of like creating something of my own has always been in the back of my head.”

It wasn’t long before that vague desire manifested as something more tangible. “One random day, me and a friend of mine were talking, and we set up this plan of how we were going to dominate the internet together.”

Mac laughs as he recalls the scheme. “We were going to both make channels and then they would grow, and then we would have like a combined channel and, like, take over YouTube.”

While it may have started off as a fantasy, Mac soon made YouTube stardom his goal. “I was like, ‘Yeah, you know what: Why don’t we try becoming YouTubers?’ And so I made my first video and she never made hers. And here I am today, eight years later.”

MacDoesIt began with a review of the 2012 Olympics—sadly no longer available—a format even his new fans will be familiar with. “My reviews have been a thing on my channel from the very beginning. I don’t know why I gravitate towards that idea — it gives me a reason to talk.”

What MacDoesIt Does

Mac draws you in with his relatable, self-deprecating humor, regardless of your personal identity. However, this comedian is not afraid to tackle tough subjects that others might avoid. Being black and gay himself, he is able to provide an authentic voice for this intersectional experience.

“I’m born and raised in Los Angeles. These topics are like the normal conversation you have in the big city. For the longest time, I’ve been in such a bubble. And while doing YouTube … that’s when I started noticing people in different parts of the world — this country alone — have completely different lives and can’t really live their lives fully. And so I was like, you know what, let’s talk about that on my channel — that’s when it kinda switched.”

Once he realized what he had to offer, Mac starting shifting the content on MacDoesIt in that direction. Mac remembers thinking, “Yeah, I can talk about this; this is so easy. A lot of people can’t, and I’m in a very privileged space right now to do so, so I might as well.”

Why comedy?

While many find issues of race and sexuality difficult to speak on, Mac uses comedy to get past this hurdle. Comedy is the icebreaker that allows those tougher discussions to open up. He credits his theater background for his ability to easily slide between the ridiculous and the serious.

“I’ve been doing musical theater since I was six years old. And one thing you learn doing theater is icebreaking. You always do some type of form of icebreaking. Before you get into a serious topic or a serious monologue, you always wanna ice-break with all your actors. So I find that comedic side of it, like the icebreaker of the conversation, gets people comfortable to have that conversation with me or to listen to me talking about a serious conversation. The entire thing doesn’t have to be so serious.” Mac emphasizes, “It’s a real conversation, not a serious conversation.”

Mac could easily come across as didactic when talking about some of the topics on MacDoesIt, but he avoids this thanks to his comedic approach, engaging personality and fast-paced delivery. He keeps viewers engaged.

“For me, it’s comedy,” Mac says, “And comedy, I feel like, is also the most easily digestible form. I decided if you can find a way to push a message through comedy, you can be more powerful than a news broadcaster, basically, you know?”

“I’m a very goofy person,” he continues. “I always talk about serious topics, but I’m also goofy. So I couldn’t sit down and make a video where I’m just like, ‘Ok, here, are the serious things.'”

“I’m talking about this because — they’re real,” Mac continues. “They’re not just serious topics, they’re real topics, I like to tell people. So when you talk about them, just talk about them in the real-est way you can.”

Choosing a topic

Mac doesn’t have a calendar listing out weeks worth of videos — “Oh no, I do not plan that far ahead. Oh god. It’s very on the whim sometimes.”

He does, however, keep a running list of ideas for inspiration: “I’ll be scrolling through the internet, or watching TV, or talking to friends and suddenly an idea will pop up in a conversation, and I’ll just write it down. But that’s about as far as my planning goes. A lot of times I’ll think of a video topic like the week of the video, most of the time.”

Once he decides on a topic, Mac’s filming process is relatively straightforward. “I think of a topic, then I’ll think of a day to film and a day to upload… And then I’ll film that day, and I’ll spend about two to three days editing the video, and then upload it at least three days after filming.”

The production process

While the filming process is pretty casual — he records much of his content in his living room — Mac doesn’t always get it right the first time: “I tend to talk fast sometimes, and then my theatre kid slaps me in the face and says like, wait, you gotta enunciate that better.”

He admits, the filming process can make him self-conscious at times, saying, “I sound like a broken record. I lived in an apartment with a roommate and I tended to not let them be in the apartment while I was filming because I don’t want them to hear me repeating myself.”

Sometimes, he has to stop altogether and come back to the camera later. “There’s been a few times when I make a video,” Mac says, “and I feel like I’m not in the best mood, and I can tell when I’m talking. I’ll go on too many tangents, or I’ll get angrier for some reason. And then I’m just like, ‘Ok, this is — this is not the mood right now,’ and I’ll just turn off the camera and start over the next day.”

Editing a MacDoesIt video

A lot of the comedy you see on MacDoesIt comes from his editing style, which at times verges on chaotic. He also uses camera tricks, like the cloning effect, to bring his videos to life. He says that editing has gotten easier over the years, but it still takes up a large portion of his production schedule.

“Because I’ve been making longer videos, and my editing is very fast, a video that’s like 20 minutes long is about two hours of footage … I feel like a lot of people don’t know that. I film for a couple hours at least … but it doesn’t look like it by the end product.”

Thankfully, editing doesn’t take as long as it used to. “There was a period of time when it would take me a week to edit an entire video,” Mac recalls, “because I just didn’t understand editing software that well.”

One thing that has helped Mac speed up the process is having a library of reusable assets, “…things I collect from friends and things I see on the internet.” This lets Mac edit more quickly while also crystallizing his comedic brand in the mind of viewers.

His expansive sound and clip library, however, doesn’t imply good organization. Most classes on editing emphasize the importance of labeling your work and using a consistent file structure, but Mac foregoes this for a simpler approach — using the search function of his file browser:

“I’m not very organized on my computer, but I know the titles of everything … so I just search the titles.”

This just shows that you don’t need to adhere to traditional best practices if another system works better for you. This is also one of the advantages of working for yourself. The only person who needs to understand your system is you. As a creator, you just need to find out what works best for your workflow.

The journey to YouTube success

Though Mac studied marketing, he believes that the digital landscape moves too quickly for traditional schooling to keep up:

“When it comes to digital media and marketing classes, you can only learn so much, because digital media is such a fast-moving frontier.” He credits most of his success in creating his brand to observing how the internet works and how content surfaces on YouTube.

Mac has been on YouTube since 2012, but it wasn’t until 2016 that he began to consider himself a true full-time creator. Today, he makes a living from a combination of AdSense, brand deals and his merch. His time and effort put into MacDoesIt paid off.

Mac has been on YouTube since 2012, but it wasn’t until 2016 that he began to consider himself a true full-time creator

“2016,” Mac says confidently, “That was the year I actually felt like I was a ‘YouTuber’ rather than just a person doing this as a hobby. That was the time when I was like, OK, this is a thing. I’m making the revenue that I guess everyone has been talking about.”

For Mac, true success goes beyond paying the bills with advertising dollars. “I was also getting recognized by VidCon and by the industry itself,” he says. “I felt like, in 2016 was the year I became an industry YouTuber, and before that, I was just like, a hobby YouTuber … When I started to feel like my voice was actually being heard within the community and within the industry, that’s when I was like OK, I guess I’m making an imprint in this world.”

An alternative ending

Surprisingly, Mac almost abandoned his YouTube career before ever getting to this point. “I was actually going to quit YouTube in 2015 because college was getting too rigorous for me and I was like, I can’t balance the both,” Mac remembers, citing the stress of trying to create content in a dorm room with a full class schedule. Luckily for us, someone intervened:

“A friend pulled me aside … and they gassed me up, basically … and I believed it. For that entire summer, I started uploading a video a week and I was like, let’s see what happens.” Looking from his current vantage point, Mac can see that it was the right thing to do. “They were right,” he says, “exponential growth on YouTube is a thing.”

Mac explains how he was able to gain traction on MacDoesIt and send his viewership skyrocketing: “All it takes, literally, is that one video that, some way in the world, falls into the algorithm. And then people hitch onto that, and then that video on top of your content you’re uploading will keep people interested and float you on top even more. And then suddenly, you’re blowin’ up.”

Revenue vs. content

Mac isn’t immune to the struggles of many creators when it comes to the business side of YouTube and the threat of demonetization. When asked if he was afraid of getting demonetized, he responds, “For me to say no, that would make me — a big-ass liar. I’m terrified of getting demonetized, I’m terrified of getting a full-on copyright strike. In my TikTok series, I kept saying I had to stop because I wasn’t ready to get a full strike. Because strikes like ruin your channel on YouTube, basically.”

Beyond satisfying the AdSense gods, Mac also has to balance his sponsored ad spots on MacDoesIt with the rest of his content. Mac explains, “I always wanna upload a video that I think my audience will enjoy, that I think my audience will have fun with … I don’t try to make it affect the content itself, but I do, I guess, think about how to sell it in my brand. As long as you know the brand you are on your channel, I feel like it’s easy for you to basically sell anything.”

Thanks to a considerable amount of self-awareness, Mac has found an approach to sponsored content that doesn’t detract from his comedy. “Ad reads, no matter how you do it,” according to Mac,” are always going to come off as fake and awkward, and so I just kinda lean into that.”

MacDoesIt on cancel culture

Mac isn’t afraid to call other creators out but not in the mean-spirited way that defines cancel culture. For instance, he has reacted to other creators apologizing for instances of racism in their past, but he never attacks the creators in question. Instead, his tone switches seamlessly between that of your typical comedic reaction video and real talk about how racism manifests in our society. He’s adamant that a person’s actions do not necessarily reflect their entire identity, but people do still need to be held responsible when what they do or say is hurtful towards others.

“The conversation on human decency should be a normal thing,” he reminds us. “I feel like people mix up cancel culture with call-out culture and put it as cancel culture entirely, which makes people, when they are being called out — they feel attacked. They feel like they’re being canceled.” He goes on to point out another problem with the way the internet tends to handle controversy. “The internet is filled with a lot of children … and the fact is, we don’t know that. The fact is, everyone’s age is blended together and everyone’s voice is blended together, so there’s no way of differentiating that … it’s basically all at an equal line, and that is what’s making it so destructive.”

Growth is healthy

While cancel culture can make it scary to expose our pasts to a broader audience, Mac believes it is important to show how you have grown over time:

“Even though it might seem like it’s not possible anymore because of the internet … growth is actually a healthy thing. As long as you are willing to showcase that you are a growing person on your YouTube channel and that you are trying to figure out who you are on YouTube, I think that’s a great thing.”

Reflecting on the evolution of MacDoesIt, Mac is adamant, “I wouldn’t change anything about [my YouTube career] because I think I’ve always shown that I’m trying to find my right voice and what I wanna do on this channel, and I think that’s a really cool journey you can watch by watching me on YouTube.”

Looking back on his own development, Mac says, “A lot of my friends tell me that the now-me on YouTube is so much more the real Mac than how I started off on YouTube. I feel like every YouTuber goes through that.” Mac concludes with an analogy:

“At first you start out with like a cardboard version of you and the more years or the more experience you get, the more layers of it you gain and you become an actual full-fledged person on camera, rather than just a scripted version of yourself.”

And even with more than 2 million subscribers on MacDoesIt, Mac still sees room to grow. He has plans to continue pushing and improving his content. “I do want to start making videos outside of my living room,” he laughs. “I want to do bigger things. I’ve been in conversation with people to make bigger content, actually make a series that will be like, a bigger production — actually put money behind the production of what I do.”

Advice for aspiring creators

When asked what adivce he would give aspiring creators, Mac responds with “Be careful.”

Working for yourself means putting your self-discipline and organizational skills to the test. You are the only one responsible for posting your videos on time. That can make it tough for some creators to follow through with their plans and goals. Mac may be the boss of MacDoesIt, but it not all sunshine and rainbows.

“When you get to a certain point, yeah, the money is there — it can be very big if you do it right, but I will tell people that the mental side of YouTube — just understanding you are your own boss, and that is like, a great thing but also a very stressful thing as a human being.” Mac emphasizes that “being your own boss means you have to be a boss in general, along with the fun of it and the stress of it.”

“It’s an uphill battle,” Mac cautions. “Don’t look at all those YouTubers who blew up in two-days and think that’s how you’re supposed to do it. Those people are like the one in literally a million people on this website, so don’t look at special cases … It’s not just like one video and boom, you’re James Charles.”

Obviously, though, Mac knows that success on YouTube is possible. “Once you find your voice that people resonate towards on YouTube,” he promises, “that’s when things will catch up.”

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