Rhett & Link have been creating content on YouTube for longer than most of us have used YouTube, continually branching out into new ventures, including the release of their thriller novel The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek. From talk shows to podcasts, music videos and more, they’ve been keeping things fresh and always staying a step ahead. We were lucky enough to get a chance to talk with them before their upcoming show at Kiva Auditorium (401 Second Street NW) on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Tickets are available now through ticketmaster.com.
Weekly Alibi: You’ve been creating YouTube content for 13 years. What was the initial push that got you both to take a risk on a fairly new platform back then?
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal: Back in those days, we started rhettandlink.com, where people could go and see the videos or the songs that we had done in a live setting. But then somebody was like, “Hey, do you guys have a YouTube?” We don't need a YouTube, we got our own website! But then all of our videos were easily downloaded from the website if you had the right software, people started downloading them and then uploading them to YouTube. The first one that somebody did that with was a parody of “Pimp My Ride” called “Pimp My Stroller.” We put my son and Link’s daughter into a stroller and completely tricked it out with ground effects, spinning rims, a chocolate milk dispenser. It didn't go viral by any means, but getting 1000 views was 990 more views than we were normally getting. So we thought, “We should do this on purpose.”
Where does the creativity for the wide breadth of segments you all pull off with Good Mythical Morning and The Mythical Show come from?
It makes it more fun when you're trying new things. There's also this pressure whenever anyone goes on the internet, they're always presented with 100 options at once. You look at the YouTube homepage and there's all these thumbnails. Even if you went on YouTube to watch us, you're tempted by all these other things. So you we have to continually, every single day, earn the click in competition with everything that’s presented around us. We want to keep people guessing so that they can find the thing that they didn't know they wanted yet. We’re always trying to come up with new things so that people don't think, “Okay, I know what's up with those guys. I’m over it.”
Has there ever been an idea you wanted to pull off on the show but decided it just wasn't either working for you guys or wasn't a good fit?
We rarely have an ambitious idea that halfway through just kind of tanks. I think we've been trying some crazy stuff on our show. Like we we bought a car and then we said, “Let's take the wheels off and let's replace it with cheese wheels.” It's just a stupid idea that's really hard to do. The good news is we have a great team, we have people who think it's hilarious to try. So we document the process of them trying new things and failing, so it's not just about doing something and it being amazing. It's about having a crazy idea and giving it our best shot. We try to bring people along for the journey and it's not just about the results, but the car ended up starting, so they pushed it across the parking lot and that was exhilarating.
The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek is a real departure from the comedy-centric work you all do. Was it difficult getting into the mindset of writing from a thriller/horror perspective?
I think it's something we wanted to do for a while. We make so much comedic content, but we actually consume a lot of non-comedic content. We wanted to tell a story like this for a really long time. There's quite a bit of comedy in the story, but we actually ended up having to pull back a little bit because there were times when we were trying to get a point across and a little comedic aside, while funny, was a distraction to the story. It was definitely a unique challenge to write a book. We were able to have the time to get it to be what we wanted it to be. We wanted the book to be the kind of thing that anyone, even people who were skeptical about the fact YouTubers were writing a book, would enjoy it. I'm encouraged that we're hearing from a lot of people that they didn't know it was going to be as scary as it was but also as funny and heartwarming. If you're into early ’90s nostalgia, this is a tale of a small Southern town where everything seems to be in the right place but there's some hidden secrets there that the characters need to find their way in and out of.
What should people expect from the show this week?
Our show is really kind of a returning to our roots show because we're playing a lot of music, a lot of songs that when we first started gaining popularity on YouTube, it was through our music videos. If you're a fan of those, you'll definitely enjoy the show and the number of new songs that we've written. In between the songs, you get the banter that you've come to expect from from Good Mythical Morning, but we never know what we're going to talk about or exactly what's going to happen. So we're very excited to be here.