YouTuber 'Daxflame' On Letting AI 'ChatGPT' Run His YouTube Channel, His Viral 'Diary 30, Diary 31' Meme And His Upcoming AI App
Daxflame is a content creator who gained viral acclaim in the late-2000s for his often shockingly honest YouTube vlogs. With titles like "I Pushed my Grandmother into the Pool," Dax eventually peaked as the number 16 most subscribed creator on the platform. His vlogs even inspired the well-known Diary 30: Superman Is Coming to School meme, which is still seeing use in 2023.
These days, after appearing in films like Project X and 21 Jump Street, Dax is still busy creating content on YouTube. In the last few years, he's been the subject of a documentary by iDubbbz, created a health-based game show called Smoothie Madness and is hosting the talk show The Hot Seat on the MAXIMUM DAMAGE CHANNEL.
This year, Dax has decided to let the artificial intelligence program ChatGPT run his YouTube channel. We recently caught up with Dax to talk about his online history, his viral memes, his fascination and involvement with AI and more.
Q: Hi Dax, it's good to talk to you. What do you think most people know you for online?
A: People know me most online for my Diary 30 and 31 Superman meme videos that got turned into a meme.
Q: When did you start posting content online and why?
A: I started posting content when I was 15 because it sounded just good to have that ability to connect with people […] YouTube was pretty new. That was back in 2007, so it just felt nice.
Q: What kind of content did you make and why do you think it clicked with so many people?
A: I just made video blogs and talked about my day at school, that kind of thing, at first. That was what I did from 15 to 16 and then I stopped doing YouTube for many years.
I think that people watched my videos because they enjoyed learning about someone's life and connecting with someone who was going through similar things as them, such as high school, that kind of thing. Or if someone was out of high school and watching me, they just kind of found it entertaining to see.
Q: Some people believe you're playing a character in those old vlogs. Were all the stories you told real? Are there any you regret sharing?
A: Everything I said in my videos was all real. I have been asked that a lot. I think that I was definitely an exaggerator as well as a kid, but yeah.
I don't regret putting anything out there. I think that it can be good to just kind of share your experience with people.
Q: What was your earliest viral video and what were reactions to it like?
A: My first viral video was "Last Blog Ever." That one is one where I'm just kind of having a terrible time and freaking out a little bit and people really passed it around a lot.
It was a very negative reaction at first. People were giving me a negative reaction, but I was like, "This is interesting." Because it got like 50,000 views overnight and I had never had a video with more than 1,000 views. That was in 2007.
Q: What was your reaction to the negativity like and how have you learned to deal with it?
A: Back then, when I first got negative comments, I had a pretty negative reaction to it. But then over the years, you build up a thick skin to it and it doesn't bother me anymore.
Nowadays, people seem to be a little more positive online. I think back then they were just like, "Oh, you're so weird," and that kind of thing. There were also a lot of really positive people, but at first, the very first wave of people [were negative]. I think it got posted on 4chan or something like that. Maybe those were the people who first started commenting and they were pretty negative. But then after that came a wave of a lot of positivity
Q: What is the story behind the "Diary 30: Superman Is Coming To School" and "Diary 31: Humiliation" videos that became a viral meme?
A: So one day I made a video called "Diary 30: Superman is Coming to School," 'cause I would number all my diaries. I was just talking about how I was gonna go to school in a costume because it was celebrity day.
I realized that I had made a mistake and that I had gotten the event days wrong, I posted a video just called "Humiliation" 'cause it had been a very embarrassing day. So a lot of people have seen this because it's gotten turned into a meme where people have taken the first image and the second image. I think next to each other the images are kind of funny in a way to see 'cause you're like, "Oh my gosh, what happened?
Q: What do you remember about that day and how do you view it looking back on it over 10 years later?
A: It was an embarrassing day, obviously. It was 15 or 16 years ago. Yeah, almost exactly 16 years ago to the day that it happened. So I don't think about it much anymore. It is helpful because nowadays when those videos go viral, it helps my channel a lot. So I don't regret that it happened, even though it was embarrassing.
I think it's a positive message because it shows that you may have a day that you think is a terrible day and a bad experience, but you never know the good things that can come out of it.
Q: There was a death hoax about you a few years ago. Why is that?
A: I think that people thought that I had passed away because I made a short film about a character who only has two months to live. I think some people on TikTok misinterpreted that as me only having two months to live, so yeah, for a while there would be a lot of commenters saying like, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe he's passed away," and that's not the case
Q: You've acted in movies like Project X and 21 Jump Street. How did you get into acting?
A: I started acting through the open casting call for Project X. They had an open casting call, and I got flown out to LA to do some in-person auditions. Then I got the role, so that was awesome.
Q: Did you always have a passion for acting? When did you first want to become an actor?
A: No, I wasn't really interested in acting till I started doing motion picture videos on my channel where I kinda would make short films as a kid, as a teenager. I would make those videos and then that made me think, "Oh, I like making videos like this and making kind of movies," and then just got the opportunity later just 'cause of luck.
Q: You haven't acted for a little while. Is that something you'd like to get back into?
A: Yeah, I definitely would love to do more acting this year. I've just been focusing a lot on my YouTube channel and specifically just doing whatever AI recommends for me. I think that if acting becomes recommended at some point, I can focus on that more, but it can be a little bit hard to, yeah, just get more roles.
Q: Even though you haven't been in a Hollywood movie for a while, you have directed a few of your own films on YouTube, including a biopic on YouTube founder Chad Hurley. What's the story behind that?
A: I created a biopic about Chad Hurley, a story about his life, where I played Chad and I wrote the script myself as well and directed it. I never got a response from him about if he saw it or not, but I hope he did. Some of it was added like a dramatization, so I was always worried maybe if he saw it that maybe he didn't like it or something. But I hope that he just checks it out and likes it.
I've always wanted to direct a movie. That year I had made an ultimatum where if I didn't get to a million subscribers, I thought I would delete my channel as a way of keeping myself motivated and trying to stop overthinking things. Then I was like, "Okay, well, actually, instead of that, I'm gonna have an opt-out clause where if I don't get to a million subscribers, I can still keep my channel if I direct a movie and put it out before the end of the year."
We put it out a minute before midnight on New Year's Eve. People liked it, I got good feedback, for sure. That was awesome.
Q: You were also the subject of iDubbbz's documentary "Ice Cream Man," which inspired your YouTube game show Smoothie Madness. How did that come about?
A: Ian just asked to make a documentary about me, and I was like, "Yeah, that would be awesome." So we did it and it turned out really well. He helped me make the first episode of Smoothie Madness.
I was just very broke [before the documentary], so I started working at an ice cream shop. I hated it there 'cause I liked some of my co-workers, but it just wasn't my ideal job. So I wrote a book about it called "Ice Cream Man," and then the iDubbbz documentary about me took the same title and kinda just talked about that as well. [The job at the ice cream store] was just really boring, and I thought I was gonna get a promotion or raise, and I just couldn't secure it. So it just wasn't the most ideal job for me. I don't like ice cream.
Q: What is Smoothie Madness and what is your favorite thing about running a game show?
A: Smoothie Madness is a game show that I made where we have about 20 episodes or something, quite a few seasons, like five or six seasons. It's a game show where people compete in different health-themed challenges to see who can win up to usually about $100. So we've made a bunch of episodes, and I'm really happy with how it has gone.
I think that I really like working with all the same people. Brett is really good and Lauren and Andreas, and then bringing on new contestants each time is really fun. People will reach out and say that they got inspired to just be healthier from the show or they followed Andreas's stretches and stuff, and that's really awesome to hear.
Q: You've recently been focusing on projects other than Smoothie Madness. Is the show something you're coming back to?
A: Well, every time I make Smoothie Madness, I just lose a lot of money 'cause it's really expensive to make. This year I was a little more broke to start the year, and now I'm doing well on YouTube and Patreon but I'm a little bit worried to go back to losing money on videos at the moment because I don't wanna just become broke again.
So I'm not immediately planning to do another season of Smoothie Madness, but maybe if my channel grows enough, then I can make more episodes. If it gets a certain amount of views, then I wouldn't lose money on it, but I haven't reached that yet, I guess, 'cause yeah, it can cost like $800 to make an episode.
Q: You've also become the host of the YouTube talk show "The Hot Seat," which is produced by iDubbbz' company MAXIMUM DAMAGE. How did that come about and how did you prepare to become a talk show host?
A: Ian (iDubbbz) and Dayne, who have a production company called Maximum Damage, they asked me if I would like to do a talk show and I said "of course," 'cause they made Ice Cream Man and made the first episode of Smoothie Madness. So this past summer, they flew me out to Seattle and we filmed six episodes of the talk show and that was really fun to do. It's kind of a dream come true job. I'm excited for people to see the final one and hopefully we can do another season.
[To prepare] I just tried to watch a lot of talk shows so I could learn what smooth transitions are and that kind of thing and how talk show hosts carry themselves. I asked for a haircut I showed them a picture of Ryan Seacrest and showed them a picture of him and a couple of other people, just to kind of get the hair clean. Then we picked out my outfit, or I kind of picked it out and then I just asked them if they thought it was okay, and then they built the set. I kind of recommended a couple of things, but they just found someone who was really talented to build the set.
I showed up and just would do a lot of research on the guests before the interviews, and yeah. They were all really fun guests to interview.
Q: This year you're letting AI run your YouTube channel. What does that mean and how did you get the idea?
A: So this year, I'm letting AI control my life. At the beginning of the year, I didn't really feel like I had a sense of direction, and I had kind of tried everything over the years and have kind of repeatedly found success and lost it a bit.
I had just discovered how smart AI is and the ways it can be used. So I was like, I wanna just try using that a bit and seeing if it can control my life, and then I just had the idea the day before I made the video doing it and just said, "Hey, I'm gonna let AI control my life this year. This seems like something to try."
Q: How have you been using ChatGPT to control your life?
A: Well, basically, at first, I was just like, "Hey, these are the things that are feeling a little frustrating in my life, do you have any tips?" It said to maybe focus on my financial stuff first, and so I was like, "Okay, then I'll try and figure out a job," and immediately my YouTube channel started to take off around that time, like the next day.
So then I just was like, "Okay, AI, how can I be successful on YouTube?" It gave me some tips, so I've kept following those tips and letting it control those things. Sometimes it's written some videos for me or helped me with videos, I've also asked for things like, "Okay, well, I'm feeling a little stressed at the moment, what should I do?" [It says] "Maybe take a trip out of town." Or I'll ask like, "Maybe I wanna get back into dating soon. What are the factors to consider?" Or yeah, things like that. At the beginning of the year I was super broke and now I'm doing well on YouTube.
Q: What's an example of a way that ChatGPT has helped you this year?
A: I had a really stressful last week, not related to YouTube or anything, so luckily, I was able to ask AI for some tips. Like, "Hey, I've been feeling stressed," and it said, "Oh, maybe it's time for a break," that kind of thing. So I went out of town for a couple of days.
Outside of that, maybe I can ask for video ideas. You can even use it to write movie reviews. If you wanted to write a review for a movie on Letterboxd, you could just say, "Can you please write a movie review for Avatar?" Or something, and it would write a whole movie review for you right away.
Q: What are your ultimate goals for using AI?
A: I'm actually working with some people to make an app called "B Plus." Basically what that allows you to do is you can take a personality test on the app where you're talking to a chatbot and it kind of studies you and your texting style. Then it asks you things to figure out what your personality is, then it clones your personality and makes a clone of you. So, say that your name is Dax, then it creates Dax Plus and Dax Plus is someone that anyone can talk to.
So if I was asleep but someone needed to ask me something, they could say, "Hey, Dax Plus, what time are we meeting tomorrow?" That kind of thing. Or if a fan wanted to talk to me but I was sleeping, then you could just ask Dax Plus questions. Or in the future, if I don't have time to do a podcast interview, I could say, "Do you wanna talk to Dax Plus?" and he can talk to them.
Or, say that we attach a voice to him and video, he could even live stream. Then what will happen on the "B Plus" app is that anyone can create that of themselves as well. \Already we have the chatbot version of Dax Plus, but now we just wanna make it so that anyone could have that. So I just met some people who said they would help me make that at the University of Illinois' AI Club. So that's pretty cool.
Q: Since letting AI control your life, you've posted videos where it writes an apology to Belle Delphine and contacts Bo Burnham. What's the story behind these videos and did they ever respond to you?
A: No, I didn't get a response from Belle Delphine or Bo Burnham. But I think that it's a learning process, you kind of learn like, "Okay, well, maybe you use AI in these ways, and maybe in these ways, you still use it in this way," that kind of thing.
One of the pieces of advice [from ChatGPT] was to network with other people in your industry, and that's never been my specialty. So I said, "AI, can you help me to maybe reach out to some old peers such as Bo Burnham," who I've met a few times in the past, and I asked AI if it could help me write a text message for him, just 'cause I didn't know what to say. So I sent a text via AI and didn't get a response back, which is totally fine and understandable, but I just figured I would try, and with Bell Delphine, she was the one I also reached out to.
She had previously messaged me on Twitter. When she messaged me, I pitched her this collaboration idea and she didn't go for it, and I always felt bad. I asked her if she wanted to take over part of my channel, and I was like, "Was that too weird of an idea?" So I asked AI if it could help me write an apology thing to her, and it helped with that, and I made videos about both those things as well.
Q: Do you have any advice for people trying to get into content creation and what are your plans for the future of your content?
A: If you're trying to get into acting or making content, then I think that you should just try to have fun and try your best, and I think that you can try and just be consistent and do whatever sounds most fun to you.
The only thing I have planned is just to keep doing whatever AI tells me to do all year.
You can follow Daxflame on YouTube @Daxflame, on TikTok @thedaxflame and support him on Patreon @daxflame. He also hosts a talk show on the Maximum Damage YouTube channel.
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