By Molly K. Lichtner, 2/4/17
Advice shows are not a new concept. Arguably, advice shows are over done; they are found in newspapers, on television and radio, and since about 2006, on the internet in the form of podcasts. Most of the advice-givers are experts in their field. Their expertise gives them the authority to dictate what their listeners should and should not do. This is where the podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me differs; the McElroy Brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed. But still, every week they offer advice to write-in listeners around the world. It goes about as well as one might expect.
Justin, the oldest brother, consistently intros the show and reads most of the reader’s questions. He also spearheads a few other reoccurring segments on the podcast, including Munch Squad and Haunted Doll Watch. The former highlights new and fantastical items that can be found at a variety of fast food restaurants (as of now, the most recent Munch Squad focused on Taco Bell’s new Naked Chicken Chalupa that touts fried chicken as the taco shell.) The latter is exactly what it sounds like; Justin finds haunted dolls for sale on eBay and reviews their features (such as “This doll has a kind aura” or “This doll has a mischievous soul”).
Travis, the middlest brother, is often the voice of reason and is the most levelheaded of the three. He’s adept at one liners that cause his brothers to laugh so hard they nearly blow out their microphones. Travis is also the creator behind Sadlibs, which is like Madlibs but more annoying (to some). In the past, he has also curated a segment where listeners send in tips and facts about farms called Farm Wisdom, such as “if a goat eats poison ivy and you drink the goat’s milk, you become immune to poison ivy.”
Griffin, the sweet baby brother, is the most boisterous of the three. It’s also important to note that he was recently named one of Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30 Media illuminaries. He is in charge of handpicking which Yahoo! answers are read on the show, a job he takes very seriously. For those of us that are unaware of what Yahoo! answers is, it is a website where anyone can submit any question that comes to their mind and have it answered by anyone that wants to respond. These questions range from topics like, “Will eating 90 pizza rolls kill me?” or “Is it okay to write on my dog with a magic marker?”
But the most important thing about the McElroy brothers is that they are constantly trying to improve themselves. They take what their fans say to heart and address it head on. In one episode, Travis brings up the fact that they often use terms like “Man up!” or “Grow a pair!” He admits, on the podcast, that this is gender normative and they need to stop using language like that in order to be more inclusive. Griffin’s solution to this dilemma is to coin a new phrase: “Gen up!” This is not an empty promise (although I can’t recall a time when any of them use the new phrase seriously). The McElroy Brothers changed their behavior and stopped using these terms all together, which shows how deep their respect runs for their listeners.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. With close to 350 episodes, it can be an intimidating excursion. I would recommend starting with episode 336: Twenty-Something-Teen in order to get a feel for the podcast. It’s the first episode of 2017 and it’s a good good introduction to the brothers; each of their unique personalities shine through. If you’d like to just jump right in, having some background knowledge of reoccurring goofs can be helpful. A lot of these can be found in their “Best of” episodes, which are usually released when one of the brothers must undergo a major life event (like getting married, or having a baby).
My Brother, My Brother And Me is a reassuring hug during these trying times. It is an advice show for the modern era. Although the podcast can be wildly inappropriate at times, it teaches us the most important lesson of all: sometimes, it’s okay to laugh at yourself (or your brothers).
From L to R: Justin, Travis, and Griffin
Photo Credit: Robyn Von Swank