‘My Brother My Brother And Me’ Is Full Of Some Good, Good Goofs
For a certain hip sub-section of the Internet, Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy are comedy legends, thanks to the vast array of video and podcast series they produce for Polygon and the Maximum Fun Network. There’s Monster Factory, where Griffin and Justin use video game character creators to concoct virtual abominations and learn how to love them; The Adventure Zone, where Griffin leads Justin, Travis, and their dad Clint on a hilarious, emotionally stirring Dungeons & Dragons campaign; or Til Death Do Us Blart, where the brothers have teamed up with the hosts of The Worst Idea Of All Time to watch Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 once every year for the rest of their lives. (And that’s not even counting all of the many, many shows they do with their wives and friends, too.)
The biggest and longest-running of these programs is My Brother My Brother and Me, which is also the basis for their brand new Seeso TV series of the same name. One of the show’s six episodes is available on YouTube (and below), but the rest of the first season is absolutely worth the Seeso subscription cost all on its own.
In each episode, the brothers offer guidance based on listener-submitted questions; however, more often than not these aren’t serious calls for advice as much as they are springboards for the boys to engage in some longform improvisational nonsense. On Seeso, these antics are jacked up to 11 as the brothers invent thinly veiled excuses to cause good-natured mayhem in their hometown of Huntington, West Virginia — like hosting a pro-tarantula parade in the hopes that it will convince a listener’s wife to let him own one himself, or accidentally feeding a van full of teens to an evil clown in an attempt to teach a schoolteacher how to connect to her students.
Having at least a passive familiarity with the MBMBaM podcast will certainly help going into the Seeso series, which is full of clever nods and in-jokes for fans. For example, there’s a scene in the first episode that evokes Haunted Doll Watch, a segment from the podcast where Justin reads descriptions of creepy haunted dolls from eBay; another episode is devoted entirely to Candlenights, which is basically a pen-religious version of Christmas that eats and absorbs all the other holidays whenever it wants.
More importantly, however, you need to have at least a basic working knowledge of how television shows are filmed and marketed, so you’ll know just how the McElroys are intentionally messing everything up for laughs. There is no Fourth Wall to be found here, because the boys won’t stop telling the camera (or the people of Huntington, including the town’s bemusedly beleaguered real-life mayor, Steve Williams) that they’re filming a TV show, or that certain segments were filmed before others, or that they thought that last joke they just told totally didn’t work and won’t make it into the show. At times it’s reminiscent of the cliché-bending meta-humor of Comedy Bang Bang, but combined with the small-town weirdness of Portlandia and the awkward civilian interactions of Nathan For You, all with a completely off-the-cuff feel that makes even the unplanned bits (of which there are many!) still seem kind of like bits.
But regardless of whether the show reminds you of anything you’ve seen before, it’s pretty easy to fall in love with brothers’ earnest, enthusiastic brand of goofery (in the McElroy-verse, jokes are goofs) once you get accustomed to it. All three of the boys are masters at well-timed one-liners and know exactly how to hit one another’s buttons when riffing, causing most segments to dissolve into uncontrollable, infectious laughter.
Really, the one downside to this show is that its first season is only six episodes long, and at 30 or so minutes per episode, it’s tremendously easy to breeze right through on a single evening’s binge watch. Luckily, there’s plenty of McElroy content to follow-up with. Do yourself a favor and start with this episode of Monster Factory below. Trust me. You won’t want to stop.