At Home in the Valley

I’ve found a lot of value recently in calm, quiet places I can escape to for a while to relax. College is great, but it’s also essentially like living at school all the time, so I have a bad habit of getting wrapped up in my schoolwork constantly if I don’t have a good place to calm down and distract myself.

I’ve found a lot of these places, and I want to talk about one of them today. Stardew Valley.

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These Are a Few of My Favorite (2017) Things

Absoludicrous’s very first year of existence is winding down, so I think for the next two weeks it’ll be fun to look back on some of the things that made this year special.

Next week I’ll be going into incredible detail over some of the best songs that came out this year, but I thought it would also be fun to talk about some of the non-music things I loved this year.

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Storytelling With “Tres Horny Boys”

I originally had a much longer and very different post planned for this week. It was going to be more or less a follow-up to last week’s post addressing an example of a piece of media that I think does the depiction of mental illness and suicide well.

However, to be frank, the topic was too huge to tackle for a second time on a more specific level in the limited time I ended up having this week. So instead, I decided to discuss something a little lighter.

See, a while back I talked about how obsessed I am with “My Brother, My Brother, and Me,” a podcast by Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. Definitely go back and read my review of it and check them out because that podcast is still one of the most genuinely funny pieces of content the internet has to offer. But recently I’ve fallen hard for another McElroy podcast product… “The Adventure Zone.”

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It’s Familiar, But Not Too Familiar…

A few weeks ago, I talked about “My Brother, My Brother and Me”, the podcast that is going to save comedy. I took to the webs to say what I’ve been saying non-stop to my friends in real life… that these boys are funny, and good, and deserve your time and attention.

Since then, the McElroys have unveiled their newest creation, the six-episode TV show version of “My Brother, My Brother, and Me,” released via the online comedy streaming service SeeSo.

I’ve now watched the series twice all the way through, and I wanted to talk about it. Not only because I, unsurprisingly, loved it, but also because it made me understand even more what makes these three brothers so special to me, and to so many other people.

The show is essentially the same as the podcast, just a little more focused from episode to episode. The boys are presented a question from a listener, and they embark on a quest to solve it. The difference, of course, is that now the boys don’t discuss the question – they physically venture into their hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, to discover the answers they require. Whether it be starting cults, handling tarantulas, creating resumes, or just simply getting over their social anxiety and talking to people, they work tirelessly (and sometimes distractedly), to solve the problem.

As a huge fan of the podcast, the show is a comfortable extension of what I already know, but has enough little additions and differences to make it something exciting and new. It’s a lot of fun to see Justin, Travis, and Griffin as opposed to just hear them. And the slightly different format of the show, focusing on one problem instead of many, feels like the concept of the podcast but leaves a lot of new room for depth. As the opening theme song states, “It’s familiar, but not too familiar, but not too not familiar…”

I think, though, the biggest positive about the show is its accessibility. Despite the fact that I adore “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” and listen to it all the time, I don’t really recommend it to too many people. It’s kind of a hard sell, telling someone to sit down and pay attention to only audio for an hour. Podcasts, while wonderful, take a little getting used to. A TV series with half-hour long episodes though? A lot more mass appeal. There’s visuals to go with the audio, and it’s significantly shorter.

I was given physical evidence of this fact when, last weekend, I arranged an impromptu viewing party of the entire series with a few friends. I baked cookies and, as tradition would dictate, Totino’s Pizza Rolls (a long time joke both from the podcast). And it was a smashing success. Two of the friends I had invited were also fans of the podcast, but it was enlightening to see how much the three friends who had never heard the show before enjoyed it. I even heard some interest in getting into the podcast from one of them.

And of course it makes sense why. It takes a lot less commitment to sit down, enjoy some baked treats and marathon a TV show than it does to lay face down on your bed for hours and marathon 350+ episodes of a podcast. Yet, the TV show is so good, so genuinely funny, that it makes the viewer want more. The sell for the podcast becomes a lot easier when you already know firsthand you’re in for some great comedy.

On a more surface level, though, watching the “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” TV show through the eyes of someone who had never experienced the podcast before reminded me of what made me a fan of these brothers in the first place. Even if you don’t know them already, it’s hard not to see the appeal of Justin, Travis, and Griffin. I already knew they are sweet and genuine people with an oddball sense of humor, but seeing them interact with the people of their hometown in ways that were sometimes awkward but always good-intentioned reminded me of that fact. I already knew that their brotherly affection for one another provides great chemistry between the three of them in the podcast, but watching them bicker and make fun of each other and hang out with their adorable father, Clint McElroy, reminded me of that fact, too.

All in all, the “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” TV show warmed my heart, cleansed my soul, and reminded me that there is good in the world. It has also provided me with maybe one of my favorite moments in comedic history. If you want to check it out, I highly recommend it! You can watch the whole show at SeeSo’s website. Subscription to the site costs about $4 a month, but the first week is free if you just want to pop in, give it a watch, and then pop out! I promise, you won’t regret it.


My Podcast, My Podcast, And Me

If you’re at all close to me I’m sure I’ve already chewed your ear off about “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” at least once.

If I have, I do not apologize.

See, one of the things I wanted to do with this blog is make recommendations and steer people towards great things they might not necessarily know about. And I want to start by talking just a bit about my new absolute favorite thing in the whole wide world.

“My Brother, My Brother, and Me” (henceforth abbreviated as MBMBAM), is a weekly podcast created by and starring brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. It is technically an advice show, and each week the brothers answer questions both from listeners and from random Yahoo Answers users, but to describe it only as that is to do it a great injustice. It is also one of the funniest things I’ve ever listened to. I now usually do my workouts at the Monon Center to the dulcet tones of these brothers, and I’ve had to desperately stifle my laughter as to not appear completely unhinged to my fellow exercisers so many times that I think my abs are more defined because of it.

As I often do when I get totally obsessed with something, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is about this podcast that charms me so much, and I think I’ve figured it out.

First of all, their goofy, inside-joke laden style of humor is very familiar to me. I’ve gotten a few of my friends into McElroy content. Two of the brothers have a hilarious gaming series on YouTube known as Monster Factory, which I have repeatedly subjected my friends to at various parties and social fuctions, and the jokes in this series as well as in the podcast have integrated themselves seamlessly into my friends and my inside jokes.

It’s obvious why – they’re the same sort of jokes we would cook up. “Slendy playing the bongo drums” is pretty much indistinguishable as a joke from “Backpack for his applesauce” to an outsider, but one of them is an inside joke between several of my friends and one is an inside joke created in a YouTube series by Justin and Griffin. I’m sure some readers of this blog know the difference (Hi guys!) but to those who don’t, it’s essentially the same indistinguishable word salad that still, without fail, makes us laugh.

For that reason, it’s obvious why this style of humor would appeal to me, because it reminds me of my friends. The way we take a concept and verbally beat it until it’s somehow become a new concept entirely, one that is simultaneously hilarious to us and nonsense to outsiders, is something that happens on MBMBAM all the time. It’s familiar. It never fails to make me smile.

Second of all, the McElroy brothers are just… genuinely good people. I’m a pretty picky person when it comes to comedy, and I very often dislike comedic movies just because I don’t really trust the people who make them not to make impolite and insensitive jokes. Whenever I try and watch your run-of-the-mill blockbuster comedy, I spend so much time stressing about what awful offensive thing could be rounding the next corner that I can’t really enjoy myself.

But McElroy brothers are just honestly such nice guys. For reals. They make stupid toilet jokes and sex jokes sometimes (a lot of the time), sure. But at the end of the day, they’re very open and accepting of everyone, and it’s so refreshing. Their jokes have never made me cringe or feel uncomfortable.

I remember an exact moment in an episode where they were responding to a listener asking for advice on how to deal with a coworker who calls them “asexual” because they couldn’t get a date. I was fully and honestly prepared to grin and bear the usual reaction I hear whenever asexuality comes up, that sort of “oh you’re one of those special snowflakes, huh?”

But the brothers. Honest to god. Called the coworker out for it. Said that people actually describe themselves as asexual for a reason, and that it wasn’t an insult or a term to just throw around. And then they made the situation genuinely funny, made it into a lighthearted joke at the expense of this rude coworker and not the asexuality.

Yes, I know. I’m a dirty politically correct millennial. I get it. But it’s really nice to just be able to laugh and have a good time and not have to look past the mean, low-blow humor that seems so common nowadays. Plus, they’re never preachy about it. They too make mistakes, but they apologize for them. They’re aware of the very potent power they hold over their audience, and they use it only for good.

Okay, maybe I’ve done kind of a bad job at recommending this podcast to anyone except a very specific type of person. But hey, that’s what this blog is for, right?

However, if I have somehow managed to sell you on MBMBAM, give it a listen for yourself here. It updates with a new episode every Monday. I highly suggest you just listen to the most recent episodes, because they’ve been doing this for like six years now and the quality has MAJORLY jumped since the beginning.

You can also follow Justin, Travis, and Griffin on Twitter too! Or if you wanna check out Monster Factory, which is just as good, head over here.

Anyway, I’m your extra-est blogger, Gillian Paxton, and this has been my recommendation for MBMBAM. Thanks for reading, and kiss your dad square on the lips.

(…Yes, that was a reference to the podcast. I swear.)

(This is one of my favorite goofs on this podcast. Parental advisory warning: there’s some swearing. But it’s hilarious, I promise.)