He steals cell phones, holds hands with unsuspecting students and even intentionally starts disagreements with random people. He has been criticized by media outlets and revered by millions of fans.
Andrew Hales has made his presence known on the BYU campus and within the YouTube community. In March 2012, Hales began conducting social experiments at UVU.
“Some people think the videos are pranks, but we like to think of them as social experiments,” Hales said. “Pranks are usually mean, but we are just trying to make people laugh through the awkwardness of the situation.”
Initially, Hales brainstormed various awkward situations he could catch on camera. He started out with the video “Almost Picking Up Chicks,” which attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers. His second video, “No-Not-You-Ing,” propelled him to fame with more than 1.5 million views. In that video, Hales would walk through the halls of UVU with his hand raised as if he was going to give a stranger a high-five. When the unsuspecting student raised his or her hand to high-five a zealous Hales, he would walk past them and high five a friend who was following closely behind. This would ultimately leave the stranger feeling a bit awkward and embarrassed.
“People can relate to these situations, which is what makes them so funny,” Hales said. “When people can picture themselves doing the same thing, it makes it hilarious.”
Eventually, Hales could no longer film at UVU because he was well-known, leading him to start experimenting on BYU students. One of the most popular videos, with more than six million views, “Awkward Elevator,” was filmed at BYU and featured Hales engaging in antics such as standing with his nose in the corner of the elevator when someone walked in and even dangling from the hand rails. According to the operation videographer, Josh Gibson, the more awkward and uncertain the situation, the better the footage tends to be.
“We get the best video when no one knows who Andrew is and they aren’t aware that it is being filmed,” Gibson said. “When we make it as real and strange as possible, that is when the magic happens.”
This magic continues to attract new subscribers and fans each week, and the videos continue to get more awkward and popular with each release.
“We will put up a video on Monday morning at midnight, and by eight in the morning it will already have thousands of views,” Gibson said. “It’s exciting to see how many people are fans of the videos and how excited they get when a new one comes out.”
That excitement continues to spread. The LAHWF Twitter feed now has over 10,000 followers and nearly 20,000 “likes” on Facebook.
“It is really cool to be a part of something like this,” Gibson said. “I mean, I have the best job in the world. I get to film hilarious videos that consist of clean and quality humor. There isn’t a lot of other stuff out there like this.”
The YouTube channel, LAHWF, is named after a quote from the movie “Fight Club” and stands for “losing all hope was freedom.”
“There isn’t really a deep meaning for the name, I just really like the movie and thought it sounded good,” Hales said.
Hales’ YouTube channel has more than 354,000 subscribers, 47 videos and nearly 50 million video views. Even though LAHWF is proving to be a successful business venture, the goal remains the same.
“Andrew just likes to make people laugh,” said Jaclyn Hales, Hales’ sister, who has also appeared in several videos. “He’s good at what he does, and I’m not surprised by the success he has had.”
As of right now, LAHWF is working with several companies concerning the success of the videos, and both Hales and Gibson hope to continue to produce quality entertainment.
“I definitely want to ride this wave for as long as I can,” Hales said. “My passion is really music, but for now I love what I am doing. I like to make people laugh, and making videos is fun.”