The mid 2010s was an edgy time for YouTube. Drama, diss tracks and takedowns ruled the video-sharing platform. There was no longer any room for wholesome old school players like Ryan Higa and iJustine. Enter Ethan Klein. The now 37-year-old found himself the next big thing for gen Zers who were keen to wean themselves off the edgy, profane content that had dominated the platform for so long. As gossip, controversies, and drama reigned supreme, Klein became the official judge, jury, and executioner.
Love him or hate him, Klein was a key player among the online courtroom dramas of YouTubers like Filthy Frank, Tana Mongeau, Shane Dawson and Jenna Marbles. There’s no doubt you would have seen the self-proclaimed ironic king online somewhere, be it from his early days as a satirical drama and reaction channel, to his new life as the face of a hugely successful podcast series.
Far from the most problematic content creator, Klein is still no complete stranger to controversy. So who exactly is the omnipotent leader behind h3h3Productions, and is he really all that innocent?
Klein is an Israeli-American best known today for running the H3 Podcast channel on YouTube alongside his wife and longtime creative collaborator Hila. The channel was launched back in 2017 as a spinoff from their original YouTube endeavour, h3h3Productions. At the time of writing the channel boasts an impressive six million subscribers, with its back catalogue of videos routinely pulling in millions of views and high engagement.
The channel has dabbled in pretty much every kind of content out there, from gaming videos to reactions of the worst kind of influencers YouTube had to offer. This quickly proved successful for the married duo, and saw them continue to target the likes of cringy Facebook content, as well as fake prank channels.
The peak of h3h3Productions has to be the iconic “VAPE NATION” video which spawned many a meme. You couldn’t go anywhere online without seeing Klein in his iconic weed get up, or people spamming comment sections with #VAPENAYSH. It’s safe to say that the millennial dominated the mid 2010s YouTube landscape with his memeable videos and delicious takedowns.
Klein’s biggest break however, was the show’s podcast, a venture that has proved immensely successful for the entire production team. The H3 Podcast has attracted stars such as Post Malone, Joji, and even Jackass stuntman Steve-O.
Since then the vodcast has amassed a hefty following on its own separate channel—the current subscriber count is a solid 2.8 million—with podcast uploads frequently hitting views in the millions. Today, the podcast and its spin offs After Dark and Off The Rails, discuss all manner of topics, from internet drama, to world happenings.
Ethan Klein and acclaimed rapper and singer Post Malone are the last two people I’d expect to see hanging out in a room together. But sure enough, the two actually had quite a strong friendship, one that appears to be on the back-burner as of late.
The friendship between the songwriter and internet memer began in 2017, when Klein uploaded a video titled: “Making Music with Post Malone.” In the 13 minute-long video, the creators can be seen giggling and getting on as they mess around in the studio.
The rapport is obviously natural and it’s clear that the pair legitimately get on—so much so that Post Malone would subsequently end up gracing an early episode of Klein’s podcast, putting it firmly on the map. Fans of the two personalities have been left wondering if something happened between them, given a severe lack of Post Malone in the H3 multiverse in recent years.
Of course, as we know, internet beef is an insidious—and often untrue—thing and so the H3 host has always made sure to quickly dispel any rumours that the two had fallen out, or that there was any bad blood between them. There is thankfully zero drama here. Life is busy and their paths just haven’t had time to cross as of late. This should come as no surprise in relation to Klein too, who as well as running his podcast, has been busy raising two children.
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Recognition for Klein and his podcast grew even more following his decision to collaborate in 2020 with the un-cancellable actor, singer, fast talker, mukbanger, beauty blogger and overall OG controversial influencer Trisha Paytas. During the pair’s working relationship, on the podcast aptly titled Frenemies, Klein and Paytas butted heads a number of times. There were dramatic walk offs, insults thrown, and overall Domino’s-infused chaos—and it provided some of the most entertaining online content netizens had ever seen.
In 2019, a year before Frenemies began, Klein called out Paytas in a video which touched on the idea of Instagram versus reality. In the video, Klein called Paytas the “poster child” for fake online personas, something that the h3h3 creator had always been highly critical of. Paytas responded on Twitter by calling Klein “sickening” for the attack, and pleading with his wife to divorce him “ASAP.”
Despite an odd tweet from May of 2019 from Paytas asking to be on the H3 Podcast, they continued to go back and forth over Twitter, with the feud being at its worst when Paytas briefly came out as transgender—a move which many criticised as insensitive to the LGBTQIA+ community. The self-proclaimed troll has often said they thrive off attention, which led people to believe the video was insincere in nature.
It should be noted however that Paytas has reaffirmed on a number of occasions that they do identity as gender fluid and so it’s safe to say that there may be some authenticity to the claims. Despite this, Paytas still saw fit to delete the video and apologise.
So, the question is: How did the pair go from dominating one of the most vicious internet beefs of all time to hosting a hugely successful podcast that routinely pulled in millions of views?
The potential exposure from having his internet rival on the show was enough for Klein to rekindle the possibility of Paytas appearing on the H3 Podcast and, sure enough, after some goading on the app, which had not yet been acquired by Elon Musk, the fast food fanatic was finally on the show. Not to say that they’d completely made up, but the rivalry made for fun, combative and divisive conversation—something that audiences could not get enough of.
Who doesn’t love to see enemies unite and go head to head in a long-form podcast? Paytas’ initial appearance gave birth to a show that was so unlike any other podcast on the platform. The pair laughed and participated in pop culture quizzes, sure, but they also created some of the most horrifying and world-altering dramatic moments ever witnessed in YouTube history.
Fans flocked to the site every week, telling friends that they hoped this week’s episode would remain civil, while secretly praying that an argument would break out.
The show often dealt with Paytas’ struggles with mental health owing to a diagnosis with borderline personality disorder, as well as Klein’s own anxieties around his autism diagnosis. Although praised for the open discussion of their mental health, much of their content together revolved around Paytas exploding in frustration, more often than not thanks to Klein’s ability to push their buttons. But, however aggravated they got, the influencers always came back—until they didn’t…
To some extent, it’s surprising that the show even lasted as long as it did. Users would often overlook and almost relish in the controversial comments Paytas was liable to spout—such as their unethical and shocking takes on Judaism, or the Holocaust.
The podcast’s untimely end came following an argument between the two towards the last minute of the podcast’s 39th episode, which revolved around the show’s budget and their revenue split. The episode should have been an easy session. Both were dressed up as characters from The Addams Family, and the focus was on equally controversial YouTuber Gabbi Hanna—easy pickings for the duo.
Unfortunately, however, the pair were simply unable to reconcile after this particular blowout. Paytas stormed off and the show finally came to an end.
To make the situation that bit stranger, and in many ways quite upsetting, Paytas is currently married to Klein’s brother-in-law, Moses Hascmon. It’s been rumoured online that Hascmon is no longer on speaking terms with his sister or Klein.
With a successful channel and podcast to boot, you might be wondering just how much the Israeli-American is worth? Look no further, as we’ve got you covered.
Klein’s net worth is said to be roughly $25 million, with his monthly earnings said to be around the $630,000 mark. This wealth comes from Klein and his wife’s successful channels, as well as Teddy Fresh, a clothing label started by Hila in 2017.
Klein was sued in 2016 by Matt Hosseinzadeh, an American YouTube personality who goes by MattHossZone. Hoss’ content is bizarre to say the least, and often revolves around him interacting with attractive women in very, very strange scripted scenarios. You really have to see it for yourself:
h3h3 did what they do best and naturally filmed a reaction video to the bizarre viral clips. Hosseinzadeh disapproved and after “politely” asking h3h3 to remove the content, to which they refused, he filed a lawsuit against the couple, claiming that “fair use” of his content was breached.
The news that the Kleins were being sued and subsequently having to defend their right to freedom of speech caught the attention of YouTube news personality Philip DeFranco, who began a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for the couple to defend themselves against Hosseinzadeh. Over $100,000 was raised and the money now sits in a retainer at law firm Morrison & Lee LLP, being used to help people defend against fair use allegations.
It should come as no surprise that their right to fair use and subsequently freedom of speech was upheld by the American judicial system, with US District Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruling that the commentary video constituted “fair use as a matter of law,” with the video being described as “quintessential comment and criticism.”
Klein can’t resist a chance to satirise those he doesn’t agree with, especially if they’re right wing commentators. There have been numerous attempts to cancel the YouTuber, but none appear to have stuck—not even temporary suspensions from YouTube can kill the H3 machine.
Do you remember the great blue checkmark parody war that began on Twitter in late 2022 as the SpaceX CEO began to take the reins of the company? The option to pay a subscription fee for a blue checkmark led to hilarious impersonations of celebrities on the bird app.
Klein couldn’t resist jumping on the meme-train and took to impersonating Musk, albeit with it being clearly stated in his profile that the impersonation was parody, as per the new rules.
Despite this, Musk wasn’t a fan of his actions and saw fit to suspend the creator in November. Klein was just one of many accounts banned (and swiftly unbanned the following month), but it still serves as a grim reminder to the fragile egos of the uber-rich.
Klein also faced heavy criticism and suspensions from YouTube. In May 2022, the H3 Podcast channel received a temporary suspension from YouTube after the host suggested someone “should bomb” a National Rifle Association conference.
In October of 2022, they again received another suspension and a strike from YouTube after Klein said that right-wing political commentator Ben Shapiro should be “gassed first, or last.” in the event of another Holocaust.
In spite of criticism for his actions, Klein voiced feelings that the punishment was unjust and that “a few white supremacists successfully lobbied YouTube to suspend me, a Jewish dual citizen of Israel and USA, for antisemitism.” It’s clear that Klein is driven by his views and refuses to hold back when voicing his feelings, especially when political ideology is on the line.
H3h3Productions has firmly cemented itself as a YouTube staple and, in spite of Klein’s tendency to poke fun and hold nothing back when criticising others on the platform, it’s unrealistic to imagine an internet world where this particular creator doesn’t exist.