the group of friends that everyone would want to belong to

the group of friends that everyone would want to belong to
the group of friends that everyone would want to belong to

They participate in eating competitions and challenges, sing songs, compete in the Eurovision Song Contest and have already sold out three concerts in Afas Live. They recently won three more Zapp Awards. Who are the Benchsitters?

Lorianne van GelderFebruary 2, 202403:00

Get five friends together and give them a camera and you’ll get corny videos. But what makes them have hundreds of thousands of followers on YouTube, win prizes and sell out huge concert halls?

The five Bench sitters, twenty-somethings Milo ter Reegen, Koen van Heest, Robbie van de Graaf, Raoul de Graaf and Matthyas het Lam, first started separately with YouTube, mainly with gaming channels. Later they started sitting together, even living together, and started doing pranks, games and challenges in their videos. They also released, as a joke, a boy band song in early 2021, Crazy. It was a hit. With cringeworthy, but apparently very catchy lyrics such as ‘Even if I lose at tennis, it doesn’t matter because my girl is a at is…’

They now have more than 880,000 followers on YouTube, 467,000 followers on Instagram and millions of viewers per month. They no longer live together but rent an office, made series on Amazon Prime and sell out huge concert halls. And yet the average thirtysomething will not be familiar with these men, while among children and young people these twentysomethings are at the top of every favorite list.

Jackass meets Backstreet Boys

Challenges, games, eating competitions (such as eating the hottest pepper): the Bench Seaters easily tick all the boxes for a success formula on YouTube. They often talk at once out of enthusiasm, include useful tricks in the videos and above all show a high long-live-fun spirit. You could call it nonsense, but then you underestimate the appeal to young people of these apparently easily made films.

Anyone who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s will have strong memories of the Bankzitters Jackass – the group of Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze and Johnny Knoxville that performed increasingly extreme stunts – but thanks to their music they are also very reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys and *Nsync. Less talented and less slick, as they say themselves, but perhaps that is precisely why it is a hit because of their nonchalance, bravado and irony in this YouTube age of authenticity. They themselves attribute their success to their ordinariness. “We are an average group of friends that everyone can identify with,” said Raoul de Graaf in an interview with the NOS Jeugdjournaal.

In addition to their joint business, they also still focus on their own business. Koen van Heest, who already had a lot of followers with his own channel, launched a mobile game as an experiment in 2020: Kaasje. It was an amazing success. Matthyas het Lam has one of the most streamed YouTube channels in the Netherlands Philosophy (927,000 followers).

Office full of employees

They are handy guys, they can now make a good living from their YouTube existence. Milo ter Reegen recently said in the A.D that his work consists of more than ‘sitting on a chair on the roof terrace all day drinking beer’. ‘We have an office full of employees who have children and a mortgage, we are busy with and responsible for their pension day in and day out.’

They easily ignore criticism of their videos – Ter Reegen was sometimes confronted about a few sexist jokes in sketches in his videos, after which he took a few videos offline. A joke where the five of them presented themselves on Tinder and had to choose women whom they wanted to date was not appreciated when women saw themselves in the video. But they also shrugged at that. Boys will be boys.

At the end of 2023, the boys reached the Top 2000 with no fewer than four songs Your gaze towards me, Crazy, Is that real? and Cupid. Their hope of participating in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Cupid didn’t happen, Joost Klein can go to Sweden. But after sold-out shows in Afas Live last month, they already have three performances in the Ziggo Dome planned for January 2025. No one doubts that they will sell out the 17,000 tickets per show.

About the author: Lorianne van Gelder has been writing for Het Parool for over ten years, mainly about theatre, culture and media. She is also the presenter of the weekly Parool podcast Amsterdam metropolis.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: group friends belong