Recipes for disaster


The Internet can teach you how to do pretty much anything. Handy YouTube clips have instructed me in everything from tying a bow tie, to making an omelet in the style of Julia Child, to twerking. (I didn’t say they were all roaring successes.) There are thousands of “how to” videos online, but none are quite like those uploaded by YouTube user HowToBasic.

The mysterious Australian user had humble beginnings, posting a conspicuously straightforward 4-second tutorial on “How to Pick Up an Umbrella” in 2011. But later videos like “How to Correctly Serve a Watermelon” and “How to Make Lasagna” signaled that something was going seriously astray, as both clips relied primarily on violent smashing and made horrible messes. (“How to Make Bread” reportedly took 3 hours to clean up.)

Since then, HowToBasic’s videos have devolved into a signature style of hyperactively edited and occasionally terrifying tantrums of egg-bashing, food-wasting, rage-fueled kitchen carnage, with results seldom resembling anything teased by the clips’ misleadingly delicious-looking thumbnails. They’ve also attracted
nearly 5 million followers.


How to Make Iced Coffee” keeps it together for about 20 seconds before spiraling out of control, clogging a kitchen sink with a foul melange of abused vegetables and raw chicken. The aggressively unhelpful “How to Wash Dishes” swiftly defeats its own purpose, and “How to Correctly Make a Stir-Fry” may be three of the most entertaining-nauseating minutes the Internet has ever pushed out.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Taken individually (as often they are, spreading virally from one confused Facebooker’s feed to the next), HowToBasic’s DIY (Destroy It Yourself) clips can come off like gross tossed-off jokes. But consumed in bulk on his channel, they feel more like works of art — spasmodic commentaries on gluttony and waste, excess and emptiness, order and chaos.

But perhaps the most important message of the videos is one we’ve heard many times before: Don’t try this at home.


Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at