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YouTube’s goofiest grandma makes videos for an audience of 1

For Marianne Brown, growing old doesn't mean growing up.


Chase Hoffberger


Posted on Oct 21, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 3:48 am CDT

YouTube can kickstart careers. It can make a man’s life. But for Marianne Brown, a 63-year-old retiree living in southwestern Michigan, the site’s the way in which she makes her grandson smile. 

Brown started making these YouTube videos in April; they’re usually quite personal. The name of one of them is “Family”; “Happy birthday to me” reads another. Her last seven videos have a total of 78 views. In one, she’s rapping a cappella about elves and old teeth. 

“You can fight it, you can tight it ’till you taught,” she raps, pulling at her cheeks like hooks in her mouth. “But that southernly direction cannot be caught.”

This is the life of the crazy old grandma on location in the modern age. Retired to a house on Lake Michigan, Brown lives two hours away from her only grandson, who’s six and lives with his parents in Brown’s native Chicago. 

Brown didn’t say it, but it’s really quite obvious: that grandson is her best friend in the world.

“We’re pretty much the same mindset,” Brown says. “His parents are in their 30s, and they’re very serious; they’re parents. He and I totally trash his room. We totally trash it. And then they come in and see us, and I look like a really bad kid sitting there, and then I walk away. They tell me not to give him more than one cookie, and when they leave, I give him like 10. 

“He likes me,” she adds. “And I like him.”

Brown’s made it her mission to make her grandson laugh. Because of the distance, it’s usually online. He’s losing a tooth; she shows up as the tooth fairy. Kid’s into karate; she spars in her basement with a punching bag

“We both laugh and he says, ‘Grandma, you’re going to fall and break a hip!'” she says. “‘You kick fairly well, but you don’t punch so haahhhhhd.'”

She’s out to prove that growing old doesn’t mean that you have to grow up—or slow, or serious, or boring, or bland. Just because your grandmother baked cookies doesn’t mean that you have to, she says. “You can actually have fun and make videos. You can jump out of airplanes. You can do whatever you want.”

It’s an appropriate sentiment coming from a woman of Brown”s character. Aesthetically, Marianne Brown’s actually sort of the female equivalent of Back to the Future‘s Doc Brown. She’s got big salt-and-pepper hair and two worn sockets around her eyes. She rambles when she talks, breaks into admissions and other diatribes that she doesn’t filter for a “fuck.” 

“It tickles me,” she says, “when I see women with duck lips and big cleavage. That’s not going to last. I was in the Miss America pageant in 1969. I was a little hottie.”

These days, Brown can usually be found milling about her quirky, highly decorated house, making videos that’ll make her grandson laugh or often think.

“I tell him that he’s going to meet people who say you have to take life really seriously. Well, it’s really short. It’s really, really short. You’re going to hit 30, then 40, and then you’re going to zoom to 50. 

“When I was 40, I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m 40!’ I freaked out and thought I was really old. Then I hit 50 and thought, ‘Wait a second, 40s not that old at all.’ So I didn’t take 50 seriously. Then I hit 60. Now I’m 63, and, shit, senior citizen? I can get into the front of any line.”

Sounds fun, right? She’s hoping her grandchild notices.

“There’s a method to my madness,” Brown says. “I want him to grow up and be a grandfather who also has fun with his grandchildren.”

In a video called “Turning Shit into a Divine Gift… part one,” she admits she’s done her job.

“When he’s an old, old man, he’ll be a wonderful grandpa himself.”

Photo via Marianne Brown/YouTube 

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*First Published: Oct 21, 2013, 9:00 am CDT