Griffin McElroy is the co-host of the popular podcasts My Brother, My Brother, and Me and The Adventure Zone. Together with his brothers (and fellow co-hosts) Justin and Travis, he recently wrote a podcasting guide called Everybody Has a Podcast (Except You).
“We’ve been doing podcasts for 11 years, and realized that there are a lot of ways that people are doing this, and I think we have accumulated enough experience on doing this stuff without a bunch of formal training, and—starting out at least—on a shoestring budget, and that’s not something that everybody knows how to do,” Griffin says in Episode 458 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.
Since the McElroys are known for their comedy, they worked hard to make the book funny as well as informative. The pages are filled with sidebars in which the brothers banter back and forth. “I think that trying to work with the publisher to find the tone of the book was the trickiest part,” Griffin says, “trying to find the middle ground between having it be a straightforward educational self-help resource versus being something that would have a modicum of entertainment value to somebody who didn’t care about that stuff.”
The McElroys hope that the book will help newcomers avoid some of the mistakes they made when they were first starting out. In fact, they recommend that listeners skip the first 150 episodes of My Brother, My Brother, and Me entirely.
“Back in 2010 all of us had fairly sheltered upbringings, and told a lot of dogshit jokes that were deeply problematic, and were things that our audience heard and in gracious ways told us, ‘That really hurts,’” Griffin says. “So we realized that we should listen to our audience, and we should realize that a lot of the stuff we’re saying is pretty reprehensible.”
The thought of talking to strangers might turn a lot of people off from podcasting, but Griffin points out that he’s built a successful career talking almost exclusively to members of his own family. “It’s a nice life hack to do it with your brothers,” he says, “because then you can just talk about the normal BS that you’ve talked about for several decades now.”
Listen to the complete interview with Griffin McElroy in Episode 458 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Griffin McElroy on The Adventure Zone:
“With The Adventure Zone, one person runs the campaign—right now it’s Travis—and the other people are players, and there’s no knowing how the players are going to respond to what the [game master] throws at their feet. … I feel like the pressure is a bit higher when you sit down at the table to record an actual play podcast than when you sit down to record a [talk show]. The stakes are increased by the fact that things could go really bad—you have a string of really bad dice rolls, and suddenly the story’s not going in the way you thought it was going to go, and now you have to course correct a bit. There’s a lot of chaos in doing a podcast like that that can be very intimidating.”
Griffin McElroy on Chick tracts:
“It was really terrible stuff, and drawn in this weird, hyper-realistic way where everyone looks really busted—the people who have been filled with Dungeons & Dragons demons look just so wild-eyed and sickly. They are grotesque little things. … I remember a sermon that obliquely referenced Pokémon—not in the way you saw in the news of a preacher stabbing a knife into a plush Pikachu belly, but just in the way of, ‘Hey, you better watch out for that.’ And me sitting in the audience playing Pokémon on the Game Boy Color I was very discreetly trying to keep below pew level. But I think [my family] was all on the same page about the Chick tracts. They were always a novelty to us more than they were in any way prescriptive.”
Griffin McElroy on fantasy fiction:
“My brother was big into Xanth, and dad was really big into Discworld. When we would go on vacation, my dad would always, on the Mapquest directions, have a detour to a paperback shop that we would go into for—not an exaggeration—maybe an hour and a half or two hours while he just stocked up, and then he’d bring all of those back home, and have a new hoard to last him until the next summer that we could go on vacation somewhere with the big paperback shop. … I’m sure if you ask my dad about Drizzt, he could probably conjure up the correct answer of who that is—probably moreso than I could do, because I am only a budding fantasy fiction reader.”
Griffin McElroy on celebrity:
“If I go to Dragon’s Lair or any other hobby shop in town, I am much more likely to be recognized by somebody there, but it differs, I guess, any given place that I go. But it’s always great. Even though I am not the most gregarious person, I would say, it’s always rad to talk to somebody who likes the stuff that you do, and we don’t have a lot of real shithead fans that don’t respect boundaries. There have been a lot of times where I’ve been with my son and have had to say, ‘Sorry, I can’t take a picture right now,’ and nobody’s ever been a jerk about it. So yes, [being recognized] happens sometimes, but it hasn’t happened now in over a year, since the pandemic happened, so yeah, my ego could really use a boost.”