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YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater

Dan Middleton, better known as Dan TDM, mixes 
real-world video footage with gameplay from the video game Minecraft to draw a giant audience of kids and parents. 
Photo by 
Emily Herogian
Published Jun. 29, 2017

Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

For some perspective, that means it has been watched more than all five Super Bowls over that same time period combined. Way more.

Middleton, better known as Dan TDM, may not be a household name yet, but he's one of YouTube's brightest stars and biggest successes. For five years, he's mixed real-world video footage with gameplay from the video game Minecraft to draw a giant audience of kids and parents.

Now he's bringing his first-ever live tour to Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall to see if the pug-filled, evil-twin-inhabited digital world he's created will translate beyond the Internet.

"You'll see quite a few of the characters from YouTube, like scientist Dr. Trayaurus and my evil twin, Evil Dan," Middleton said.

And yes, that includes the pugs, which appear in the show, but are also Middleton's real-life pets.

"We love them because they're quite lazy so it gives me ample time to make videos," he said. "I won't say they don't bug me, but they're just really great at chilling out."

The storyline for the stage show involves Dan TDM being kidnapped by Evil Dan, who gives him a series of gaming challenges. During some of those games, the entire audience participates from their seats. At other points, some audience members are brought on stage.

There's a giant screen where the gaming happens, which includes a level custom designed for the live show by the online social gaming platform Roblox. It usually goes smoothly, but Middleton concedes that when you're playing a game live in front of an audience, "unexpected things can happen."

It's a busy time for Middleton. Late last year he released his first graphic novel, Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal, and he wants to do another one. He continues to release daily content on YouTube while he's traveling for the tour, lugging hard drives worth of material around with him, and even filming and editing in planes and hotel rooms along the way.

"I just love what I do I guess. I think you have to, in order to have a crazy schedule like this," he said. "But I just find it really enjoyable."

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