Yusha Thomas is a former United States Army sergeant, recruiter, and current comedian. In 2015, while still in the Army, Thomas began posting a series of comedic videos spoofing life in the military, covering everything from hardass drill sergeants bent on tormenting their trainees, the eternal quest of recruiters to sucker... er, convince enough people to join the Armed Forces in order to meet their quotas, the off-duty side of life in the military, and the different kinds of people you meet in the service. The videos quickly took off and became a favorite for active troops, older veterans, and non-veterans as well.
In most of his videos Thomas plays all characters, and most of the time the roles are simply one-offs or sometimes Thomas "playing" himself, although on a number of occasions Thomas does have others in his videos, including other veterans and military humorists who do their own videos on youtube and other sites. The few recurring characters in his videos include:
- Drill Sergeant Backbone: the embodiment of the old school, tough as nails, drill sergeant who can punish (or smoke, in Army slang) privates like nobody else. He also quickly became a Memetic Badass to the point that Thomas made a faux trailer where Backbone brawls with Jason Vorhees.
- Petty Officer Dingleberry: the embodiment of every Gay Sailor joke that anyone in the Army, (any army) has ever made about the Navy. About twice as camp as it's humanly possible to be, Dingleberry's main goal is get attractive men to join the Navy so he can sleep with them, and he's not too bothered about consent either...
- Private Goose: a new recruit in Basic Training, and Backbone's favorite target. Backbone seems completely determined to destroy him before Goose gets out of Basic.
- The female Drill Sergeant: Backbone's Distaff Counterpart, portrayed by fellow Army vet and youtuber Army Amuse.
These videos contain examples of:
- Bait the Dog: In Golden Era Drill Sergeant Phrases 4, when Backbone walks in to see Goose and a friend listening to a radio they shouldn't have, at first he doesn't punish them. He even starts to dance along to the music. Then he spots their stash of contraband, and it's all downhill from there. Way downhill. As in hours of exhausting physical exercise without water, then forcing Goose to write out a complaint that lists every single thing Backbone forced him to do, then turning those complaints into a paper airplane and throwing it away. And then it's implied that Backbone let the female drill sergeant go to work on Goose.Backbone: I hope you got a condom for your heart private, because I'm about to fuck your feelings!
- Catchphrase: "But Sarge!" usually said in response to a private's sergeant does something horrible.
- Corrupt Quartermaster: Apparently Central Issue Facility are incredibly petty, charge overblown fees on everything you do in the military, and literally steal souls.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Backbone lives and breathes this trope. For example, in the video When Drill Sergeants Smoke You For Anything, Backbone finds some utterly ridiculous things to punish the privates for. note Some standouts include making the whole platoon do pushups because one private has his boots laced left over right instead of right over left, one private has a cleft lip, and because one private asked to use the latrine.
- Glurge: The pro-soldier internet glurge is parodied in 13 Year Veteran Has Heart Breaking Message. It seems like the video is going to be about disabled soldiers injured in the line of duty and shaming people into supporting them... instead it's about the 13 year veteran's attempts to dodge paying child support.
- Hidden Depths:
- Backbone apparently likes music and to dance.
- The female Drill Sergeant is an excellent singer.
- Interservice Rivalry: While Thomas is certainly more than willing to poke fun at the Army, when other branches of the military show up, they tend to get blasted. Going by his videos about how recruiters act before and after they get you into their offices, Marines are dimwits with Testosterone Poisoning, the Air Force are Jerkass elitist snobs, and the Navy is Camp Gay to the max. The Coast Guard, being a subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security since 2002 rather than the Department of Defense, doesn't even merit a mention.
- Jerkass Robot: There's a whole series of videos where Siri is massively disrespectful to Yusha, like so.
- Meaningful Name: Not only does Backbone just sound like a badass last name, it echoes the slightly archaic phrase "Show a little back bone", meaning to be strong and brave. It's likely also meant to echo the old saying that NCOs (especially sergeants) are the back bone of the military.
- Mood Whiplash: The juxtaposition of many of the songs done in How Drill Sergeants Call Cadence seem designed to invoke this. For example, at one point the sequence goes from a cadence like a sad church hymn to one that seems like it comes right from a step team to a bloodthirsty call to kill the enemy. We also get segments with one Drill Sergeant having the privates sing the Spongebob theme, and another ranting about the problems in her relationship. Whiplash all over that video.
- Nostalgia Filter: A number of videos make it clear that Thomas sees the modern military as far softer than in generations past.
- Phony Veteran: A number of videos come down on these types, along with the those who exaggerate their service, (such as rear echelon types who pose as having been in combat) etc.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One video has Yusha playing a veteran named Tyrone who is being forced to work without pay during a government shutdown. After being forced to work without pay and endure racist taunts from his coworkers, an active shooter breaks into the building. After his coworkers plead with Tyrone to save them, he appears ready to spring into action... but instead he talks the shooter into letting him go and gets out of the building while the coworkers get shot.Tyrone: Hey man, listen. These guys were trying to get me to come over here and fuck you up... listen, I ain't with this shit, I was about to quit this motherfuckin' job anyway.
- Verbal Backspace: One video is basically nothing but this trope occurring in text messages. The premise is that Yusha is supposed to be on terminal leave until officially being discharged from the Army, but when a new war breaks out, he is recalled by his old commander, who manages to reach him by text. The entire video is the two men coming dangerously close to saying what they really mean and think of each other, only to catch themselves at the last moment erase it, and put a more professional face on their comments. Finally at the end of the video the commander slips up and sends out one of his "what I really think" texts, and Yusha responds by deciding to buy a one-way ticket to Canada instead of reporting back to the base.
- Write What You Know: Other than the obvious ways that Thomas' years in the military inform videos about the different types of drinkers you meet in the military, how soldiers act before doing PT, how recruiters behave, etc., this trope come into play in other ways. For example, Sergeant Backbone is based on a drill sergeant Thomas had as a fresh recruit that singled Thomas out for especially harsh treatment.