“We legally have to say, ‘please do not take our advice,’” Griffin McElroy tells me near the start of our conversation. Duly noted.
Griffin is 1/3 of the McElroy Brothers, a trio of loquacious West Virginia-born goofballs who oversee what some might describe as too many podcasts. The one they are most known for is the eponymous My Brother, My Brother and Me, a show where the McElroys dole out advice that is not likely to help anyone sort their life out. Odds are it will veer a little on the illegal side, meander hilariously off-topic for a long-time and then wrap up with a tweetable bon mot or two. Lately, however, the brothers have been in dire need of some non-comedic advice themselves. They needed to learn how to turn their flagship podcast into a TV show.
When the McElroys first began meeting with networks and platforms—before ending up with Seeso–there were a lot of decisions that needed making. They had to figure out how the show could be more visual than the podcast, and more active. Basically, they needed to find a way for it to not be three dudes sitting at a desk having a conversation.
“There was this push and pull where we were like, ‘What if it’s just us talking and people watch that for 25 minutes?’” Justin McElroy says. “And they would say like, ‘What if, instead, you guys lived in a haunted amusement park?’”
It’s an exaggeration, but not by much. One of the networks suggested the McElroys pursue a scripted sitcom where one of them is married, one is dating, and one is single, and they all live together.
“That is literally the plot of Full House,” Travis McElroy notes.
The three ended up going in a much simpler direction, one that won’t in any way sully the legacy of Uncle Jesse, DJ Tanner, and the gang. The Seeso version of the show takes the spirit of the podcast—three funny brothers flailing at problem-solving—and gives it a visual context injected with a dose of hometown flair. The show is set partly in a garage, with the McElroys talking through a fan-submitted question, and partly in the colorful town of Huntington, West Virginia, which they’ve been describing on their podcast since its inception in 2010. Whereas on the show, they could only describe their unorthodox approach to tackling a problem, now they can just show themselves attempting to do it. Being on a television show gives them a lot more freedom overall, but it’s not without its limitations.
“On the podcast, we have to wander around a lot until we find something funny,” Justin says. “And when you’re shooting a show, it just can’t be paced that way. You can’t watch three grown men talk to each other until they find something funny to say.”
Luckily, the three are pros at finding funny things to say by now, and although legally they have to tell people not to take their advice, it’s not all bad advice.
“If you take our advice and it works, it’s good advice. If you take it and it doesn’t work, it’s bad advice,” Travis says.
There aren’t a lot of subjects the McElroys haven’t covered at some point in the last seven years. Dating questions and roommate questions are especially frequent topics of inquiry. Co.Create wanted to test the new TV stars’ mettle, however, by asking them for advice on some work-life dilemmas despite the fact that neither of them has worked in an office in years.
Travis: I’ll tell you a secret: You don’t have to talk about politics. You can talk about baseball teams.
Griffin: It’s okay to talk about politics at work, just maybe not with someone you have to sit next to for 8 hours of the day. This is one of those cases where you’ve already fucked it up beyond all repair and we’re sorry but there’s nothing we can do.
Justin: You have to pack your bags and move away.
Travis: You should thank your stars, though, because it’s hard to find stuff to talk about sometimes, and now you’ve got one.
The Question: What do you do if you’re secretly dating someone at the office and you want to go public about it, but he/she doesn’t?
Travis: If I was the person who didn’t want anyone to know, I’d just deny it and make the other person look like a liar.
Griffin: Or, if you’re the person who doesn’t want to announce it, if they do announce it, you break up with them and then you’ve got sort of a Schroedinger’s relationship situation. Where as soon as it’s observed, it changes its quantum state to you’re fucking single now because I told you not to do that.
Justin: If the reason to not reveal the relationship is because it’s off-limits and you’ll get fired, that’s a pretty good reason.
Griffin: Or maybe you’re just the office joke.
Travis: “Why don’t you want to announce it?”
Griffin: “Why do you think, Jeremy?”
The Question: How do you handle Impostor Syndrome, where you’re convinced you are not qualified for the job you hold?
Griffin: We have that! Is it Impostor Syndrome if you’re turning your podcast into a TV show and worrying that the 20 crew members you see every day are like “Wow, what are these guys doing?”
Travis: There should be a different name for a different syndrome where a person starts a new job and has the confidence to feel like they’ll actually be good at this job. Because nobody knows what they’re doing on day one. You should feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s what a first day is for.
The Question: What do you do if you sit near a noisy cluster of coworkers but you don’t want to be the person who says, “Hey, keep it down?”
Griffin: I say find something to drown them out, that has a lot of episodes of it, and it’s a podcast…
Justin: Noise-canceling headphones are very expensive and impractical, but why not.
Travis: Make like a big cardboard applause-meter and then hold it up whenever they’re being super-loud.
Griffin: You could also bring that to meetings, but change the words to ‘shitty meeting,’ ‘pretty good meeting,’ etc.
Justin: Maybe do that even if you don’t have noisy neighbors.
The Question: If you work in an office with a relaxed dress code, but decide to go on job interviews, do you attempt a reverse Clark Kent and get into interview clothes?
Griffin: I think you should show up at the job interview looking your worst. Because if they can’t accept you at your worst, they don’t deserve you at your best.
Travis: Especially right now when there are so many jobs and not enough people.
Justin: You could be the guy who wears a three-piece suit all the time at this casual dress code place, and then eventually you’d be the guy in the three-piece suit who doesn’t work there anymore.
Griffin: Or maybe don’t apply for the job and just start a podcast instead. You can wear whatever you want forever.