Two YouTubers famed for their prank videos are being sued for disrupting classes at a university in California.
The things people will do to get views and likes. Two YouTube content creators are being sued by the University of Southern California after they created a panic in classrooms across the campus. The two men, identified as Ernest Kanevsky and Yuguo Bai, had entered the classrooms to film prank videos, but instead caused students to flee in fear.
Kanevsky and Bai, who are not USC students, entered the Mark Taper Hall of Humanities and proceeded to, according to court documents, “cause terror and disruption” with their prank video when they took over a lecture on the Holocaust. Kanevsky, who goes by Eric on his YouTube videos, was dressed like “a member of the Russian Mafia” while Bai was dressed like Hugo Boss, who is well known for manufacturing Nazi uniforms during World War II.
As Kanevsky and Bai entered the classroom for their “takeover prank” video, students panicked, all running from the classroom, some tripping over chairs and many leaving their personal belongings and laptops in class. Their attempt to flee, according to the court filings, was based on “what reasonably appeared to them as a credible threat of imminent classroom violence.” This was not the first time Kanevsky and Bai filmed a prank video on the USC campus.
Last September, the pair of “pranksters,” along with another associate, made their way into a data science lecture where they proceeded to remove the classroom professor with physical intimidation. After his removal, the funny guys took to the lectern where they subjected the students to “insults and demeaning behavior.” Apparently, some people find these prank videos funny because Kanevsky’s YouTube channel claims over 11,000 subscribers and his super “funny” videos have received over 8.3 million views.
To many of the students, the threat was real and they weren’t aware it was a prank video. “I was near the door and I started running out,” one student explained to the USC Annenberg Media. “Everyone just left in a really big panic.” According to witnesses, Kanevsky entered the classroom dressed in all black and carrying a silver briefcase. Bai also entered the class unseen, and he pretended to be a student. Kanevsky then asked the class if there was anyone named Boss in the room, to which Bai stated he was. Kanevsky then moved to the front of the classroom where he told Bai, as Boss, that his father owed him $50,000. Hilarity ensued as students began to flee in panic.
Class professor, Benjamin Ratskoff, explained in an email how he felt about the references the two men made while filming their prank video. “While it appears that the event was a part of some kind of prank, the intrusion naturally created panic, as lectures on the Holocaust, antisemitism, and racism have previously been targets for harassment and violence,” he wrote. Ratskoff then explained his decision to get out of the classroom, not knowing if a prank video was being filmed or not. “I myself made the split-second decision that it was better to follow those fleeing students rather than to wait and see if this was indeed a prank.”
Thankfully, the USC didn’t find their work the least bit humorous. After the prank video was filmed, the two made haste but were eventually tracked down. Los Angeles Police Department officers were on the scene quickly and arrested the pair of comedians at gunpoint.
University lawyers asked for and were granted a temporary restraining order against the YouTubers. They are also seeking damages for attorney fees and additional costs that come with the lawsuit. The university is hoping the suit will prevent not only these two from attempting this sort of prank video again but anyone who might find this type of this funny.
USC has not been the only prank video target for the Martin and Lewis on YouTube. Kanevsky has posted videos of similar pranks performed on other southern California college campuses. These include California State University, Long Beach, and the University of California, Los Angeles.