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May 19, 2017

Morning Drive

Tomfoolery fans spur web success for the guys of Good Mythical Morning.

Ramin Zahed
  • Robin Roemer

YouTube stars Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal aren’t afraid of eating scorpions, doing an entire show wordlessly or drinking each other’s urine (through a filter) — all for the sake of comedy

Legend has it that the two friends signed a blood oath to “do something together some day” when they were freshmen in high school in North Carolina (they first met in first grade).

“Back then, our idea of fame was appearing on the local news or becoming a weatherman,” says Neal, who like McLaughlin, was an engineering major at the University of North Carolina before their YouTube career took off and they moved to L.A. “Most of what we think of as funny comes from our families and people we knew growing up.“

Their comedy brand — often compared to such TV cult hits as British comedy show The Mighty Boosh and HBO’s The Flight of the Conchords — has attracted millions of young fans who appreciate their offbeat humor and intriguing situations.

Since 2011, their daily talk show, Good Mythical Morning, has amassed more than 11.7 million subscribers and won the award for best comedy channel, series or show at the 2016 Streamy Awards. Their music, which includes catchy ditties like “The Facebook Song,” “It’s My Belly Button” and “Rub Some Bacon On It,” is another secret weapon.

Last October, the duo — through their Mythical Entertainment, in partnership with YouTube Red — tried a more traditional, narrative format with the eight-part YouTube Red series Rhett and Link’s  Buddy System.

In that show, Rhett and Link play  themselves, but their internet talk show is stolen by their mutual ex-girlfriend, an evil infomercial queen played by Leslie Bibb. Directed by TV veteran John Fortenberry (Rescue Me), the comedy also stars Page Kennedy and SNL alumni Chris Parnell and Molly  Shannon. A second season is in the works.

“We’ve been having a lot of fun doing Good Mythical Morning for the past five years, but Buddy System allowed us to stretch creatively, tell more interesting stories and dig in deeper,” Neal notes. “Our fans seem to enjoy the surreal, absurdist elements. We shot the first season just like a movie and  hope to continue the same format for the second season.”

Neal and McLaughlin define their offerings as “a combination of curiosity, creativity and tomfoolery,” and they love that the talk show keeps them connected with fans. “This is our daily touchpoint with our audience, and it’s a powerful way to launch whatever property we come up with next.” And whatever that may be, they strive to not take themselves too seriously.

Still, McLaughlin says, “We hope people say that there is something smart behind the ridiculous humor. It all comes from a place of thoughtfulness. Even if the plot is about a hallucinatory manifestation of Neal’s brain, which breaks through to the real world as he pedals on a stationary exercise bicycle.”

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 4, 2017

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