The McElroy Brothers Answer Your ‘My Brother, My Brother and Me’ Questions

Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy

With My Brother, My Brother and Me, McElroy brothers Justin, Travis and Griffin put the TV spotlight back on their hometown of Huntington, West Virginia. Adapting the hilariously freewheeling elaborations of their long-running comedy advice podcast to a streaming television show certainly paints Huntington in a much more flattering light than the city’s last major TV exposure—as a town in need of nutritional salvation on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution—which the brothers are quick to point out.

Antics on MBMBaM range from tracking down the Knights Templar to throwing a full-blown parade dedicated to the widely maligned tarantula (or as the brothers have now rebranded it, the “rancho”). The brothers’ familiarity with the filming locations gives the show a comfortable looseness, framed by occasional meetings with Huntington’s unflappable mayor and, of course, spaghetti-night debriefings with McElroy patriarch, Clint. “Awesome is the word that I would use,” youngest brother Griffin said of bringing a TV crew to his childhood stomping grounds. “People we went to church with when we were little kids came out of these buildings and saw us having a spider parade. That is really rad.”

My Brother, My Brother and Me

Travis, Justin and Griffin throw a tarantula parade in Huntington.

Since the McElroys are prolific podcasters and bona fide internet celebrities, we decided to open up our interview to their followers. Here are a few of the questions fans submitted via Twitter about the upcoming MBMBaM TV show, streaming on Seeso Thursday, February 23.

Justin: It’s impossible to define by genre, because it is like nothing else that has ever come before it.
Griffin: We’ve said this in a couple of interviews now, and my skin just, f–king like, retreats from my body.
Travis: The short answer is it’s far closer to a reality show than it is a sitcom.
Griffin: It’s completely unscripted. The setups we knew ahead of time, we knew where we were going to be, but then we’d be there and it would be like, “Okay, go be funny for two hours.” I guess that’s more reality show.
Justin: It’s not “real.” We are playing pretend, but we didn’t write down the pretend.
Travis: Magical realism.
Griffin: Magical realism is a really good one.
Travis: It’s a magical reality show.

Justin: Most of the bits J.D. Amato, our director and showrunner, would throw at us. We wouldn’t come up with it. He would say, “Okay, here’s the thing we’re trying this time.” And then he would spit it out, and we would try it.

Griffin: We wanted to make an accurate representation of the podcast, and the podcast is weird. It’s very tangential, and it would be really, really difficult to just do a straight adaptation of that. So when Justin says it’s not like anything else on TV, that’s less bragging and more complaining, because we didn’t have anything to [reference].
Justin: Yeah, if there had been an easy way to do it, trust us, you know us, we would.
Griffin: If there was an easy way to do it, we’d be having this conversation in 2014. Like, seriously.

Justin: I wouldn’t say there are many callbacks to the podcast specifically, but there are things that we as human beings are thematically obsessed with that we do definitely talk about.
Griffin: But none of them are inaccessible, I don’t think. There’s a haunted doll situation in one of the episodes. If you don’t know us and don’t know that we have haunted dolls on the podcast sometimes, I don’t think you see that and go, “What are these..? What’s this..?” It’s just a spooky doll, and it’s funny because it’s a doll that is haunted and we treat it with care.
Travis: But we still have plenty of stuff for people who listen to the podcast to watch and be like, “Oh, they included this. That’s great!”
Griffin: Our callbacks or inside jokes or whatever are not inscrutable. We’re obsessed with horses. What you need to understand is that we think horses are the most beautiful creatures ever to live. End of explanation. You don’t need to do like a deep dive.

Longtime podcast contributor Drew Davenport also wanted to know if he could expect “wet stunts” on the show.

Travis: There were actually some stunts involving water.
Griffin: Yeah, there was a bit where it had just rained and I was hanging up Christmas lights, and somebody stepped on one of them, and I touched the exposed wire and electrocuted myself.
Travis: That was a pretty wet stunt.
Griffin: That was wet, and it was a stunt, and I hated it.

Travis: One of the challenges was figuring out how to activate it, because with the podcast we just talk, but activating it ahead of time, we had to plan locations and plan things we were going to do, but without scripting it. So it was like, “We know we’re going to an antique store, so just know that there will be a thing that happens. We’ll get there.” There was some stuff where we had planned locations, and then based on stuff we shot in the morning, we just had to punt and change what we were doing in the afternoon, because it no longer made sense with what we had started shooting in the morning.

Justin: It’s funny, because I wouldn’t say that they were strained in a professional sense, but they were strained in a brother sense. It was the most we’d lived with each other for like 10 years, pretty much. That’s a lot of time to spend together. I would say it was like when you’ve been in an amusement park all day and you’re just sick of everybody, it had that kind of vibe sometimes.
Griffin: I was away from my pregnant wife, Rachel, for three weeks. That was difficult. It was like 12 hour days more or less everyday nonstop, so there was a lot of stuff we had to sacrifice to make the show.

You got some fantastic guests on the show, including your friend Lin-Manuel Miranda, who narrates your finale.
Justin: Every time something happens in his life, like something new, I assume, “Well, it was fun, but we’ll never hear from Lin again.” And every time, he still keeps reaching out.

If you could pick an ideal guest star you weren’t able to get, who would it be?

Travis: Scott Bakula.
Justin: Scott Bakula.
Griffin: That’s not a joke, we tried.
Justin: We tried to get him on the show. Didn’t quite connect this time, but I’m feeling like, in the future there’s always a chance.
Griffin: If we talk about him in enough interviews, and we sort of cast a wide dragnet.
Justin: So Bakula, if you’re reading this, and you just want to get at us…
Griffin: It’ll be a good time. We’re not going to goof. We don’t want you to think that we would make fun of you.
Justin: No, it’s just going to be like a chill hang. We don’t even need to film it!
Griffin: We don’t even need to film it. That’s a good point.
Travis: Yeah, just come to the set. We’ll take the day off.
Justin: Just come hang out.

Griffin: You f–k up a whole lot when you start doing a podcast, and you hear from people who really, really, really like you, who let you know very politely that you hurt their feelings and ostracized them, and then you stop doing it. And then after enough of those, you kind of stop doing it to everybody, or you try your f–king best to. Literally, that’s it. I think it’s easy to get defensive, but I just always felt so miserable when I heard, “I’m a big fan of yours and you hurt my feelings.”
Travis: When someone tells you, “Hey, what you just did hurt me,” you have two options. One is to say like, “You’re wrong, and I didn’t do anything wrong.” Or your other option is to say, “Okay, well if you feel that way, let me take a step back and really look at what I did.” Do that second one every time.
Griffin: I think doing anything that has a big enough audience these days becomes a lesson in empathy. The show and me, Griffin, a person, have gotten so much better since those lessons have come pouring in. I like having that relationship with our audience, and I genuinely think it’s funnier to not say no to s–t, or not slam people instead of getting on board with them. I think that’s the funnier thing 100% of the time.
Justin: It’s harder, but it’s always funnier.

Anything else people need to know about the show?

Justin: There’s never been another show like it. Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad. I don’t know.
Griffin: Except for the Nickelodeon comedy, My Brother and Me, which is very similarly titled…
Travis: But legally different!

My Brother, My Brother and Me, Thursday, February 23, Seeso