Ray William Johnson

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Ray William Johnson
Born (1981-08-14) August 14, 1981 (age 32)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Other names RWJ
Occupation Video blogger, producer, actor
Years active 2007–present

Ray William Johnson (born August 14, 1981) is an American video blogger, producer, and actor best known for his YouTube series Equals Three, in which he provided commentary on viral videos.[1][2] Many of the videos featured on Equals Three are noted to have received an additional boost of popularity.[3][4][5][6][7] In February 2011, one industry publication noted that Johnson had six of the top 20 most watched videos of the month.[8] In early September 2012, Johnson had accumulated nearly two billion video views.[9] As of December 2013, his YouTube channel had more than 10.6 million subscribers, and more than two billion video views.[10] On March 9, he announced that the last episode of Equals Three as himself the host would air on March 12, 2014. The show later returned on July 16th, 2014 hosted by Robby Motz.

Early life

Johnson was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[11][12][13] He graduated from Norman North High School in 1999.[13] In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Johnson says he studied at Columbia University as a history major,[13] while his profile adds he was preparing to study law.[11]


While at Columbia, Johnson started his formatted show, Equals Three, as a way to combine two popular video styles: watching viral videos and video bloggers.[1] In Equals Three, Johnson reviews, criticizes, and adds commentary to some of the internet's latest viral videos.[2] Equals Three episodes are usually uploaded to his channel every Tuesday. Equals Three is on one of the most subscribed channels on YouTube, having more than 10.6 million subscribers in December 2013, and has been recognized by Guinness World Records.[1][14][15] Episodes can consistently obtain several million views within a week. Johnson has obtained celebrity guests on Equals Three, including Robin Williams,[16] Sarah Silverman,[17] Gabriel Iglesias,[18] Kal Penn,[19] Margaret Cho,[20] Bobby Lee,[21] T.J. Miller,[22] Garfunkel and Oates,[23] John Cho,[19] Jason Biggs,[24] Andy Milonakis,[25] Timothy De La Ghetto,[26] RZA,[27] and KassemG.[28]

In January 2011, Johnson launched a collaborative YouTube channel called "YourFavoriteMartian" (YFM), which features animated music videos.[29] The songs are performed by a virtual band of four fictional cartoon characters: PuffPuff Humbert (vocals, voiced by Johnson), DeeJay (turntables), Axel Chains (drums), and Benatar (vocals, guitar/keytar/bass/piano, voiced by Jesse Cale).[30] Johnson writes lyrics, raps, sings, composes beats, and sometimes collaborates with other musicians to produce the songs.

YFM has released 31 original songs, 2 remixes of original songs, 1 remix of another artist's song, 1 mashup, and 8 covers through the channel. In August 2013 the channel had over 2.2 million subscribers.[31][32] In November 2012, Johnson announced that the YFM project "has been retired".[33]

In October 2012, Johnson moved Equals Three away from Maker Studios, a multi channel YouTube network he had hired to help produce the show. He had announced his departure in an episode of Equals Three.[34] Johnson has stated that he left Maker Studios due to the pressure the company put on him into signing a new contract. Johnson released images of the contract, which showed Maker Studios wanted a 40% share of his online channel's AdSense revenue, and 50% of the intellectual property rights of his show Equals Three. He stated that they were using "thuggish tactics" to pressure him into signing the contract, one of which was allegedly leveraging his AdSense account for the intellectual property rights to YourFavoriteMartian. Johnson also claimed that Maker Studios CEO, Danny Zappin, is a convicted felon, a charge which Zappin later publicly admitted to.[35][36][37][38][39]

In May 2013, Johnson announced he signed a deal to produce a sitcom for the American television network FX.[40][41]

On December 12, 2013, Johnson released a 5-part web series titled Riley Rewind, which he directed and starred in. It is the story of a high school student who has the ability to rewind time. After the suicide of another student at her school, she attempts to change time and save her life.[42]

On December 30, 2013, Johnson announced that he would be retiring Equals Three in 2014.[43][44] On March 12, however, in the last episode of the series in its current format, Johnson announced that he will be taking one to two months to instead find a new host to replace himself and continue the show's legacy. He stated that this decision was due to the support of the show by fans. After several months of auditions, Ray announced Robby Motz as the new host and the shows continuation starting from July 16th, 2014 .


  1. ^ a b c Humphrey, Michael (June 28, 2011). Ray William Johnson: =3 Adds Up To Most-Subscribed On YouTube, Forbes
  2. ^ a b Gasch, David (February 7, 2011). Pop!shots: ‘Equals Three’ goes viral, Boise State Arbiter
  3. ^ (March 4, 2011). Lo más visto del mes en YouTube Argentina, Canal-AR (in Spanish, Argentine technology publication)
  4. ^ Vnouček, Petr (March 5, 2001).Nejlepší videa: Bowling s kočkou a polský Pat a Mat, Týden (in Czech)
  5. ^ Hathaway, Jay (March 2, 2011). Co Za Asy – What Is It, and Why Is Everyone Posting It in YouTube, Urlesque (AOL) ("Superstar YouTuber Ray William Johnson")
  6. ^ (December 12, 2010). Reinangrep på NRK-reporter sees av millioner på YouTube-kanal, NRK (in Norwegian) (noting rise in popularity of video about a reindeer attack due to Johnson's coverage; notes that Johnson is one of YouTube's biggest celebrities, "en av YouTubes aller største kjendiser," with more than two million subscribers, with the largest comedy channel on YouTube with more than 373 million views)
  7. ^ (May 22, 2010). Türkiye'den YouTube'tan en popüler kişi kim?, Beyaz Gazette (in Turkish)
  8. ^ Balleck, Matt (February 14, 2011). Three Ways Brands Can Act More Like Partners On YouTube, MediaPost Publications
  9. ^ Kiran Karnik (September 4, 2012). "Given the double-edged sword social media has become, self-regulation by platforms is the best option". The Economic Times. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Ray William Johnson". YouTube. Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "RayWilliamJohnson's Channel". YouTube. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  12. ^ Ray William Johnson (August 14, 2012). "Birthday Episode". YouTube. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c Glazer, Emily (February 2, 2012). "Who Is RayWJ? YouTube's Top Star". My Fox Phoenix. Wall Street Journal. 
  14. ^ "Comedian Ray William Johnson sets new record for YouTube subscribers". Guinness World Records. Retrieved October 6, 2012. [dead link]
  15. ^ Marc Hustvedt (June 28, 2011). "Ray William Johnson Now #1 Most Subscribed on YouTube". Tubefilter. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  16. ^ Ray William Johnson (November 8, 2011). "SHORT HAIRY GUYS - Ray William Johnson video". YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  17. ^ Ray William Johnson (March 26, 2013). "The Meaning of Life - Ray William Johnson Video". YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  18. ^ Ray William Johnson (November 22, 2011). "SURPRISE? - Ray William Johnson Video". YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Ray William Johnson (November 3, 2011). "CHICKEN LADY - Ray William Johnson video". YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  20. ^ Goosing (Nov. 18, 2011)
  21. ^ World's Biggest Condom (March 16, 2012)
  22. ^ Chicken Lady (Jan. 20, 2012)
  23. ^ Zebra Hickey (Jan. 17, 2012)
  24. ^ You're So Metal (Apr. 6, 2012)
  25. ^ Drunk Chick Proof (May 18, 2012)
  26. ^ Timothy Chantarangsu (May 22, 2012). "HOOTER HULA HOOPS - Timothy DeLaGhetto Video". YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  27. ^ Robert Fitzgerald Diggs (September 28, 2012). "UNCLE WANG - RZA". YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ Kassem Gharaibeh (January 13, 2012). "HOLE PEOPLE - Kassem G video". YouTube. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  29. ^ Bradshaw (January 24, 2011). Ray William Johnson's New Project "Yourfavoritemartian" Finally Rolls Out January 26, 2011, www.zimbio.com
  30. ^ SINGER= "PuffPuff Humbert , DJ= TJ the DeeJay , KEYTARIST= Benatar , DRUMMER= Axel Chains", Twitter, Retrieved June 22, 2011
  31. ^ "YourFavoriteMartian's Channel". YouTube. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  32. ^ YouTube spotlight: "The Stereotypes Song". The Independent. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  33. ^ YFM Channel, Retrieved November 24, 2011
  34. ^ Ray William Johnson (October 16, 2012). "http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Rur_5gFq3bg". Equals Three. YouTube. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  35. ^ Ray William Johnson (December 11, 2012). "RAY WILLIAM JOHNSON: Why I Left Maker Studios [EXCLUSIVE]". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  36. ^ Maker Studios PR (December 11, 2012). "BREAKING: Maker Studios CEO Sends Company-Wide Letter Addressing Ray William Johnson Allegations". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved December 24, 2012. 
  37. ^ Maker Studios PR (December 11, 2012). "Maker and Ray William Johnson Still Feuding As Backstory Is Revealed". TubeFilter. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  38. ^ Maker Studios PR (December 12, 2012). "Maker Studios CEO Sends Letter to Employees, Addresses Past and Ray William Johnson". TubeFilter. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  39. ^ Maker Studios PR (January 10, 2013). "YouTube Stars Fight Back". LA Weekly. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  40. ^ Glodberg, Lesley (May 17, 2013). YouTube Breakout Ray William Johnson Sells Comedy to FX
  41. ^ Wallenstein, Andrew (May 17, 2013). Comic nabs script deal at FX
  42. ^ Riley Rewind on IMDB
  43. ^ Ray William Johnson (December 30, 2013). "Ray William Johnson announces Equals Three retirement". Twitter. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  44. ^ Gutelle, Sam (December 30, 2013). "Ray William Johnson To End ‘=3′ Sometime In 2014". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 4, 2014.