Who Is Shane Dawson, and What Is He Famous For?

Shane Dawson leveraged the power of the world wide web to help make him a household name starting back in 2008 – when the idea of becoming “famous on YouTube” was only starting to become a thing.

But who is Shane Dawson really, and what is he famous for? We have the answers. 


Shane Dawson
Shane Dawson | Rob Kim/Getty Images

Born Shane Lee Yaw, the social media star began posting videos on YouTube in 2007. These first few videos were simply created because he found success in creating videos for homework assignments. In 2008, however, he launched ShaneDawsonTV. The YouTube channel was not an overnight success, but saw a steady stream of new followers over the course of a couple years.

This first channel focused on parodies, mostly in the form of songs. Dawson capitalized on making fun of all the things his viewers loved best – including celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga. This first channel slowly built up to just shy of eight million subscribers before it started to lose popularity.

The issue with the loss in popularity wasn’t that Dawson’s videos were no longer funny, but rather that his audience was growing up. Their sense of humor was maturing, and Dawson realized he needed to switch things up to stay relevant. So, he traded up to a more sophisticated approach of conspiracy theory videos, short films, and collaboration videos.

Expanding on his success

Shane Dawson has created several other YouTube video channels since ShaneDawsonTV, and has accumulate an incredible 30 million subscribers across them. He’s also gone on to act in a few films, and has published two best selling books – I Hate Myselfie: A Collection of Essays by Shane Dawson and It Gets Worse. It doesn’t stop there, of course. He has also produced a few albums, and directed a few of his own films. 


Of course, with success often comes controversy – and Shane Dawson knows that all too well. There have been multiple times where outsiders (and sometimes even his own fans) thought he just went too far. Apparently, Dawson doesn’t really know where to draw the line, and that is evident in the following controversies he’s found himself caught up in.

Wendy Williams impersonation

The first – and largest – controversy that Shane Dawson found him in was when he impersonated talk show host Wendy Williams. Unfortunately, the impersonation did not go according to plan and many labeled it “tone deaf.” This was one of those times where even Dawson’s fans felt things went too far, and the supposedly harmless joke had Dawson labeled racist and offensive.

Monologue about kids

Another YouTube channel released a very old podcast clip from at least six years ago that placed Shane Dawson back in hot water… which, we (and the rest of the world) is assuming was the idea behind it. The podcast had Dawson talking about a younger person in a humorous yet decidedly negative light. People were not happy, yet again, as the monologue came off as offensive, critical, and mean.

“Jake Paul” series

In this third controversy, Shane Dawson found himself stepping over that invisible line drawn in the sand of human decency yet again. In a multi-part series, Dawson poked fun at mental illness and those who suffer with them. He turned major issues like anti-social personality disorder into a joke that, truthfully, only he seemed to find funny.

Public apologies

During all three controversies, Shane Dawson ended up making public apologies for offending people, or appearing to act in a way that made him appear to be racist or hateful to any one particular group of people.

Unfortunately for him, each time he came under fire he not only lost subscribers but many of his videos were also demonetized by YouTube.