“We always underestimate it,” Justin McElroy says of his upcoming Portland show—a live recording of the popular advice podcast he performs with his brothers, Griffin and Travis, called My Brother, My Brother and Me. They’re all a little sorry because the show sold out in 15 minutes. “We overestimated it once,” Griffin chimes in. “We booked a venue that was enormous—over 2,000 seats—and there was a windstorm that knocked out the power in most of the city. So because of the venue and that windstorm, the auditorium wasn’t full up and I think we’re all a little gun-shy about overestimating it again.”
The McElroy brothers aren’t on tour—a possible reason for the extreme run on ticket sales. Portland’s their first live show since September. “Timing’s been rough with live shows ’cause the boys had babies last fall,” Justin explains. Griffin and his wife, Rachel—who host a hilarious Bachelor commentary podcast called Rose Buddies—and Travis and his wife, Teresa—who also do a podcast together, a charming history/etiquette show called Shmanners—had babies approximately one month apart. “I think I do six podcasts now?” Griffin guesses. “Adding my son into the mix means that basically everything is on the back burner—which I’m more than happy about.”
“We’ve been so fortunate with the podcast, the tours, and the TV show, but it kind of crept its way into our schedules,” adds Justin. “It’s not like this all came at once. It’s like John Proctor in The Crucible. Just pile another thing on there! It doesn’t feel overwhelming day-to-day but when I list out what I do for people it does seem like a lot.”
Despite their schedules, the Portland show made sense. The brothers love it here (weed) and it gives them a chance to promote their newest venture, a TV show on comedy streaming website Seeso. The show—also called My Brother, My Brother and Me—feels like an amped-up version of the podcast. They do follow-up questions with their advice seekers over video calls, and they get out there and try to talk to professionals. In the third episode, they rebrand and throw a parade to boost the public image of tarantulas (“ranchos” on the rebrand).
MBMBAM (pronounced muh-BIM-bam) is much more improv comedy or “goofing” than an actual advice opportunity. My favorite aspect of their inventive riffing is the fascinating English language grinding that the boys employ—even in the way they call themselves “boys.” All except Griffin—who was actually included in this year’s Forbes “30 Under 30” list—are in their 30s. I would liken the boys’ “brotherisms” to the awkward manner of speaking popularized by Buffy the Vampire Slayer that has completely integrated into modern American English—especially among fantasy/sci-fi fans—despite the show being over for more than a decade.
“I think that the usage of the word “boy” has increased roughly 300 percent,” Griffin says. “Especially, ‘Good, good (fill in the blank) boy,’” adds Travis. They’re all too humble to accept my theory, but they don’t immediately deny it.