Eugene Lee Yang Leaves The Try Guys

The Try Guys have something to tell people, but don’t worry, they know what you’re thinking. 

The last time the former BuzzFeed employees turned YouTube moguls Keith Habersberger and Zach Kornfeld were in the news, it was for an internet-roiling scandal. What started with one of their co-hosts Ned Fulmer beginning a relationship with his subordinate ended with him leaving the group, weeks of online speculation, and capped off with a 5-minute long SNL parody. But almost two years since the drama rocked the YouTuber fandoms (and introduced those offline to the Try Guys in the first place) the group is announcing a new change, one that begins with the departure of another host — this time, Eugene Lee Yang

The group exclusively tells Rolling Stone that the upcoming season of Try Guys content will be Lang’s last, as he leaves the group to pursue other creative endeavors. But the group will keep going, with an expansion into secondTRY TV, a tiered subscription-based model they hope will allow fans of the channel to gain access to more content while giving the Try Guys more space to pick what they create. 

“Part of this is bittersweet. We’re gonna miss working with Eugene. He has been one of the true collaborators of both of our lives. But we’ve had a long time to process this,” Kornfeld says, bursting into mock tears. “So we’re very excited for him, very excited for us, and just feeling very energized by this whole moment.” 

“Eugene leaving is something that is sort of necessary for us to keep moving forward,” Habersberger adds. “Things change. The Try Guys ’ original cast already came to an end once, But now it’s sort of getting a better finite ending.”

The Try Guys, and secondTry, the company behind the popular YouTube channel first began as a video series by media company BuzzFeed. Hosts Yang, Kornfeld, Habersberger, and Fulmer tried a series of increasingly wild experiences, including drag, labor simulations, and UFC fighting — a recurring slate of videos that eventually turned the four into popular YouTube personalities. The group left BuzzFeed in 2018 to form their own production company, secondTRY,  beginning a decade-long group project on comedy videos spanning each of the members’ unique interests, like standup, cooking, or fashion. The group stayed extremely open to viewers about their personal lives and relationships while becoming a genuine company, including their continued dedication as friends until 2022, when Fulmer was removed from the group for having a relationship with one of their subordinates. Now, Lang’s departure marks another shift in the Try Guys’ format — moving the original hosts from a trio to a duo. But Habersberger and Kornfeld don’t want you to count them out. Instead, with their new foray into a subscription-based model, they’re hoping they can set a standard for what creatives can accomplish in the creator economy — and build a world where being successful doesn’t mean choosing between following an algorithm and following your gut. 

“We’ve been doing this for 10 years, we have seen both the joys and the limits of algorithmic media making. We’ve obviously benefited from it greatly ourselves,” Kornfeld says. “But we’re at a point where we find that our taste and our audience’s taste is at odds with what algorithms, specifically, the YouTube algorithm rewards. And so by doing secondTRY TV, we’re creating a space where we can bet on ourselves and bet on our fans to support the shows they want to see.” 

Subscription models for creators aren’t a new concept. Platforms like Patreon were popularized by the idea that fans and consumers could directly fund the content they want to see, rather than pay the creators they watch passively through ad revenue. But groups that switch from an entirely free catalog to payment models — even ones that are incredibly cheap — often face difficulties. Just this month, YouTube staple Watcher Entertainment (also former BuzzFeed employees) drew fans’ ire after announcing they would be moving to a subscription model, including putting all episodes of their old content behind a paywall. (They reversed the decision after less than a week of backlash.) Habersberger and Kornfeld know how people feel about paying for content they used to get for free. But they’re hopeful that making this change with their audience in mind will help the transition go a bit smoother. They’re also clear — without naming any names — that they’d never simply remove their old videos and place them behind a paywall. 

“Look we’ve done our drama once. I don’t want to do it again,” Kornfeld says. “It was very clear to us from the beginning, that for this to work, you cannot take away from your audience, you have to give more. Our job now is to prove to people that we’re making stuff that is worth their time.” 

It’s hard to immediately see a connection between a group of 30-year-old men getting paid to try chiropractors and stunt hobbies and emotional lessons about failure and success. But for a generation of creators raised online, the Try Guys represent an era of content creation defined by turning successful one-off videos, and the desire to create with your friends into successful, thriving, businesses. And each year they keep making content, they change the bounds of what’s possible for the creators that come after them. Sure, people still mention now and then about that time they were the internet topic of the week. (The group famously released one video about Fulmer’s departure, and steadfastly refused to comment more.) Habersberger and Kornfeld get the interest. But they tell Rolling Stone they’re still optimistic they have much more to give to their fans. 

“It’s not a great feeling to go viral for someone else’s misdoings. While the media circus surprised us, I know we remain incredibly proud of how we navigated an unfortunate situation. We certainly as individuals, and as a team here paid the price for something we didn’t bring upon ourselves,” Kornfeld says. “That said I wouldn’t have it any other way. 


“I want to keep doing cool stuff. I hope certainly the next time we’re global news it’s for something sick as hell,” Habersberger says. “I hope that the thing we’re most known for hasn’t happened yet.” 

“Yeah, I love this. It’s too much fun to stop,” Kornfeld adds. “I’m not done trying,”

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