Growing up, the five La siblings played video games together for fun, when they weren’t working alongside each other at the family business.
Now in their 20s, Betty, Kim, Kat, Wenny and Allen still work together. But instead of staffing a restaurant, playing video games is their job.
The siblings, who call themselves Krew, run the @ItsFunneh YouTube channel, which was recently named the most popular Canadian-run channel about video games on that platform by number of global views. That put them at number five on a Google list of top creators in 2020, among what Google estimates are 40 million channels devoted to gaming.
Video-game streaming is an online pastime that’s rising in popularity on YouTube and other platforms, such as rival Twitch (owned by Amazon). Although most streamers remain obscure, the more popular ones can amass huge followings that translate into money through ad revenue, brand deals and merchandise sales.
Krew’s channel, which has nearly seven million subscribers, has stood out in a competitive, male-dominated field with the group’s playful comradery and light, family friendly vibe.
For all of Krew, recording and editing clips of them playing video games such as Minecraft and Roblox is their full-time job.
“It’s honestly like a dream come true,” said Betty, the oldest.
The five siblings work together each day in an office they rent. (“Let’s just say we don’t get sick of each other,” said Kim, the second oldest.)
They each have a different role on the production side, they said in an interview. Betty, who her siblings describe as “bossy,” a “perfectionist,” and a lover of puns, is the manager of the group, and deals with the business arrangements. Kim, who is “very nice and adorable, then like fierce at the same time,” does most of the video and sound editing, although her brother Allen (the youngest and the “competitive” one of the five) does the first pass in cutting down footage.
Kat, the middle sibling who is “mischievous” and “likes to prank,” does the final video polishing, and Wenny, who is “chill” (“she’s a mood, [fans] would say”), draws the thumbnails and other art for the channel.
The group says they treat the channel as a business – which makes sense, as entrepreneurship runs in their family.
When the kids were young, their parents worked in restaurants. Their father was a cook and their mother washed dishes. Around the time most of the siblings were teenagers, their parents decided to start their own restaurant.
It wasn’t easy. “If the business wasn’t going well, it was always a thought in the back of our heads: ‘Can we pay rent this month?’ ” Betty said.
The La siblings would spend their days in class and their evenings working at the family restaurant. Betty and Kim worked front-of-house, while the younger ones bussed tables and cleaned dishes. They often wouldn’t get home until 10:30 or 11:00 each night, they said.
“It was tough trying to work all the time and balance school,” Kim said.
Throughout it all, Kat, the middle child, discovered she liked making funny videos. She would use a digital camera to film comedic sketches to entertain her family. In 2011, weeks before she turned 16, Kat started a YouTube channel under the pseudonym ItsFunneh, and she started sharing funny animated videos she created through Minecraft and other programs.
As her videos started to amass more and more followers, her siblings (two of whom were now in college) joined – first under their own accounts, then united under the one Kat had started.
“We started making money, and we were like: whoa, this could actually pay off your tuition,” Kat said.
The group began to reveal their real identities online as they hit subscriber milestones, reaching one million followers in 2017 and two million in 2018. Now, in addition to posting comedic videos and footage of gameplay, the group posts videos of them doing things in real life, too, such as making snowmen, cooking Thanksgiving dinner and opening fan mail. (For safety reasons, they do not publicly disclose where they live in Western Canada, though fans can send them letters through an Alberta P.O. box.)
In recent years, members of the group have also travelled to conventions to meet fans. One impact of the pandemic, Kat says, is that with travel stopped, they’ve instead spent more time interacting with fans online.
“Our audience has really been loving that,” Kat said.
At this point, their online business has grown enough, the group says, that they can “live comfortably” and not worry about bills any more.
And, Wenny adds: “We got our parents to retire. So we’re really happy about that, too.”
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