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“I never intended for this to be my career,” says Daniel Howell, who swiftly rose to fame after uploading his first video to YouTube in 2009. “I was one of those innocent teenagers that was just posting little comedy videos in my bedroom because I was bored and I had no friends and I had no intention of it going anywhere. And to be honest, I still don’t.” Now on his ‘We’re All Doomed!’ tour, things show no sign of slowing down for Daniel as he travels around the world delivering his solo comedy stage show to tens of thousands of people. “It’s been one horrible, horrible accident for 13 years, and I’m just running with it because I’m too afraid to pull the brakes,” he tells GAY TIMES, adding: “And for some reason here I still am. I’m always one weird tweet away from moving to a remote shack in Scotland and self-publishing erotic fiction on Amazon. So we’ll see how it goes.”

The new tour is “a confrontation of everything that is absolutely horrible and terrifying in the world,” which intertwines Daniel’s signature style of humour with discussions about serious issues such as climate change, politics and sexuality. Themes of mental health, positive affirmations and soul-searching run throughout ‘We’re All Doomed!’ and are sure to resonate with fans who are familiar with his content. “It is real and raw every single time that I go on the stage because the show that I’m doing is quite intense, I would say it’s an emotional rollercoaster,” Daniel explains. “I mean, it’s funny, right? We make jokes about things but all the things we’re making jokes about are quite terrifying and awful, but I feel like it’s quite good. I mean, that’s very much like my motto, right? Think about all the things that you’re really, really upset and traumatised by and then just dump them on the table, find a way to inappropriately laugh about it. And even if you haven’t made yourself feel better, at least you got it out there and that’s like a healthy and honest way of dealing with things.”

Daniel gained prominence on YouTube at a time when the concept of ‘internet fame’ was a new one. Creators like Jenna Marbles, Venetian Princess and Shane Dawson became synonymous with online culture and quickly gained millions of fans as they predominantly made content from the comfort of their own homes. Despite feeling like someone who is “just here as an example of everything not to do,” this often came with “immense pressure” which Daniel explains could feel “horrible”. He continues: “Now, don’t get me wrong, I literally asked for the attention, but the 4am existential crisis that you have thinking about it is quite extreme. And when I was trying to cover up the fact that I was in the closet the whole time, that definitely didn’t help things, but it added all kinds of pressures. Not just like, I need to be clever, I need to be funny, I need to be original, I need to stand out, but I have a responsibility to be a good person.”

The content he made with longtime collaborator Phil Lester is something Daniel still looks back on “very fondly”. He says it served “as something that was accidentally a very healthy portrayal of non-toxic masculinity to a lot of young people on the internet, because I couldn’t help secretly being gay the whole time.” Some of the duo’s content came as a “byproduct” of them “just being incredibly bored,” though he takes pride in the fact it ultimately “meant a lot to a lot of young people that needed the representation that I did not have in any form when I was a teenager.” But does he still watch the videos that first made him famous? “Nope,” he instantly declares. “No, I would love to just delete everything that isn’t a day old, but people won’t let me. You know, there’s this adage, which is that we all deserve to be free from our past. But if I can leave what I posted in 2009 on the internet, that’s just a message that if I can move on from that, you can get through anything.”

As time went on, Daniel came to terms with his own identity and what it would mean to share it with the world. In 2019, he came out in a video uploaded to his channel which he states is “still quite radical” to talk about. “So for me to be in a room full of people talking about what it means to not give up on yourself and life and to love yourself for who you actually are…and to see a room full of people that clearly all are seeing themselves in some aspect of the story every single night just feels so powerful,” he says of his ‘We’re All Doomed!’ tour, which has a focus on his coming out journey, self-love and LGBTQ+ identities. “To go from making stupid jokes about it to being serious about it and being comfortable with both sides of that, yeah, it’s wild.”

As someone who is “drawn to making inappropriate jokes about the things that you shouldn’t laugh about,” Daniel uses both his show and content as a way of embracing his “gay trauma” and the things he is “most afraid of”. He has also been feeling “this urge to be a bit more serious” after struggling with his mental health, which he began discussing more publicly five years ago. “I opened up about struggling with depression for the first time, and that was huge because that broke that down for the first time,” he shares. “I wasn’t just making relatable jokes, but I was actually being real about it and people were also telling me not only was this very helpful and amazing and I saw myself in this video – and this really, you know, it was a light-bulb moment for me – but people were saying it was funnier because what I was talking about was realer.”

Queer people often move at a different pace in life to their heterosexual peers when it comes to things like having a first kiss, dating someone for the first time and things of that nature due to not being out yet. Daniel, who came out when he was 29-years-old, feels this is part of “the gay experience” and adds, “I 100% feel robbed of a normal life I didn’t get to have. I speak to my straight friends about this and they’re like, ‘There’s literally nothing to be jealous of because it’s all just mess, sleeping with people that you hate, cringing every single night, thinking about terrible decisions that you made, accidentally having children, getting married, ruining your own life’ and I’m like, ‘But maybe I wanted the straight experience, nobody asked me’.”

Despite things not always being easy, Daniel says he has gone on a “full circle journey where I feel like I’ve got to experience a lot in a very short amount of time.” In fact, he’s using the tour to make up for the “hot boy summer that never happened” because of the COVID-19 pandemic sending the world into lockdown. “This is my hot boy autumn right now and I am very much enjoying, for the first time in my life, being free and out and in the world, being able to actually talk about things, being honest, being able to go out and have fun.” He has even had the opportunity to enjoy time away from the “dystopian nightmare” that is the internet and “touch some effing grass for once in my life.” With his tour ongoing, Daniel is embracing the sense of community that comes with it. “And there is something quite beautiful about not just posting something on Twitter and thinking that you’re funny, but being in a room full of people laughing and smiling and feeling like you’re having a real human connection, definitely,” he adds. “It’s quite profound and it makes me realise that there is sometimes a beautiful side to human interaction.”

Tickets for Daniel Howell’s ‘We’re All Doomed!’ world tour are available here.