Triangle Talks: YouTube stars Danny Gonzalez and Drew Gooden

Originally Posted on The Triangle via UWIRE

YouTuber personalities Drew Gooden and Danny Gonzalez are heading out on their first ever live tour together. The duo has collaborated previously on YouTube but decided to take their comedic talents and zany banter and chemistry to the stage with their We Are Two Different People Tour, which will be stopping at the Keswick Theater in Glenside Sept. 12. The Triangle interviewed them about what to expect from their show and how to hack it on YouTube nowadays.

The Triangle: What inspired you to want to try out a live show?

Drew Gooden: Well we’ve been planning this for almost a year now, I think last November was when we decided we wanted to do it and then it was a long process of figuring out what a live show would look like, how scripted would it be, what kind of production elements are gonna be involved and how is it gonna be different from our videos. But our goal from the beginning was to do a free-standing comedy show, that’s unlike our videos, which sometimes have a short window of relevancy depending on what we’re talking about — we wanted something that would stand on its own a year from now or two years from now. We wanted to show that we could make a comedy show on our own without having to react to or comment on something.

Danny Gonzalez: We’re both also huge fans of stand up comedians like Bo Burnham and John Mulaney, we both love them. They’re part of the reason I wanted to do YouTube in the first place, but especially why we wanted to do a live show because we look up to them so much.

TT: Obviously, standing on stage is a very different experience than sitting at home at a desk making a video. How did you guys prepare for that transition?

Gooden: I would almost say there is nothing that could have prepared us for this. We’ve both done some live stuff in the past but to such small audiences, I think the largest improv show I ever did was in front of maybe 100 people and now we’re having 800 to 1000 every night. It’s also crazy to think that when we make a video and a couple million people see it, we aren’t really nervous about that at all but performing in front of 800 people is terrifying, because they’re all staring right back at us and if we mess up they’ll know. But I would say rehearsing it a million times has made us super prepared, there have been moments where we’ve gone off-script in the show but we’re able to get back into it. When doing a live show that’s just how it’s going to be, we’re gonna be scared then we’re gonna do it and feel great afterwards.

Gonzalez: We also have a team of super talented people working on the lighting, audio and logistical stuff that there’s no way we would have been able to figure out on our own. So that has been extremely helpful, just working with such amazing people.

TT: At the core of the show, is the chemistry that you two have with one another. How did you two meet and befriend one another and then grow to the point where you wanted to embark on this adventure together?

Gonzalez: It’s definitely been a lot easier doing this with somebody that I’m friends with and another YouTuber that makes similar videos to mine. We met when we were both doing Vine, about four years ago,  doing “Camp Unplugged,” which was the big production that Vine did in 2016. We’ve been friends since then and eventually started making the same style of YouTube videos so we had a lot to talk about.

Gooden: Yeah when we started making the same kinds of commentary videos, then that’s when our friendship grew out of “Oh we have stuff to talk about, now.” Then we tried doing a couple of collabs and it was really easy because we were able to just bounce off each other. I think, comedically, we’re compatible. It’s always been fun to make videos together because I’ll say something, and if I was just by myself then that would be the end of it, but then Danny will have a joke and then I’ll think of something and we can just go back and forth like that. And it’s been the same energy in the live shows so far for sure. It also eases a little bit of the pressure, like if I get lost Danny can pull me back in or if somebody shouts something out and one of us has a joke to say about it while the other doesn’t, it works out. It’s great to be a duo on stage, it’s been a lot of fun so far.

TT: On the topic of Vine, what was the movement from Vine to YouTube like? Was that ever an end goal for you or was that something you had to adjust to when Vine shut down?

Gonzalez: I don’t think either of our end goals were being a Viner forever. It definitely got to a point where I felt really comfortable doing Vine so I didn’t really try to branch out to other platforms. So a huge bummer with Vine was like, “Aw, now I have to find something else to do.” It definitely took a long time to figure out what I wanted to do on YouTube and I think Drew had a similar experience. We both tried doing sketches or music or a whole bunch of other stuff until eventually Drew started doing commentary and so did Cody [Ko] and they were both killing it and making really funny videos, which inspired me to start doing it. But there was a lot of experimentation to get there.

Gooden: There was definitely a period of time when Vine died where I was like “Welp, that’s it. It’s all over now.” It was tough because none of that success really transferred; I had to start from scratch on YouTube, with maybe 1000 subscribers on YouTube. As for an end goal, I didn’t really think about YouTube. I was on Vine and I was thinking, “I’m gonna do Vine forever,” and Vine was like, “No you’re not.” It took us a while to figure it out but luckily we eventually did.

TT: What is it like in the commentary video space on YouTube? Have you found it’s competitive or more collaborative?

Gooden: I would say it’s more collaborative than competitive. I would say the only time it gets competitive is when there is like the perfect topic to make a video about, you want to be the first person to cover it. That’s something we have to think about when we’re making a video: is this something that everybody is gonna make a video about and just get lost in the crowd? But for the most part I think we’re all very supportive of each other, you know, Eddy [Burback] or Cody or H3 or whoever makes a really funny commentary video, it doesn’t feel like it takes away from us, it’s more support for the community as a whole.

TT: How do you find and what do you look for in videos to commentate?

Gonzalez: People send me a lot of videos that are just really bad and are like, “You should make a video about this.”

Gooden: Especially with movies.

Gonzalez: Yeah and I think it has to be a special type of bad where it’s funny. It has to be the kind of thing you could watch with friends and laugh at. Because if it’s just really bad, and not really funny or interesting …

Gooden: Then you’re just going to get angry about it and you can’t really be making jokes.

Gonzalez: And then they also send videos that are just depressing of people being awful and it’s like, “Well I can’t make jokes about this.”

TT: A few years ago, when H3 stepped out of making commentary videos, Ethan talked a lot about how it was getting harder to “punch up” and make videos about people larger than himself. Is that something you are wary of?

Gooden: Oh absolutely, and this is something we talk about all the time. As our channels have grown, the threshold for being able to punch up gets much smaller. When we started we could make a video about anything. We’ve got 4000 subscribers, nobody cares what we say. But now its like, if you make a video about anyone or anything, they’re probably going to end up seeing it. We just made a video about the Jeremy Renner app, and I wouldn’t take responsibility for the end result of that, but I think we were somewhat involved in the swaying of public opinion on it. But when we make a video about a normal person, there is a strong chance that they’ll see it. We have to ask ourselves, how bad is what they’re doing. Is it worth talking about for a couple million views?

Gonzalez: Yeah and like I was saying before, sometimes people will send us a really bad video by some kid with 100 subscribers and what are we just gonna roast some kid? Like the two of us with a few million subscribers each going in on this kid is not a good look and just a really shitty thing to do. That’s why with the Jeremy Renner thing, I felt super good about it because this dude is both super rich and in the most successful movie franchises in the world, and he has this app where the only purpose is to pay him and also scam them by not giving them as many stars as they buy.

TT: To jump back to the tour, I know you have Kurtis Conner touring with you, right? How is he as a touring companion?

Gooden: Well he is sitting next to us, but I won’t let that influence my answer. He sucks. No, Kurtis is genuinely super talented and funny, I’ve never had a bad thing to say about him. He’s wonderful to be around and work with.

Gonzalez: Yeah it’s basically been like having another person like Drew or I around, the chemistry is great and we’re always joking around backstage. I don’t think we could have picked a better person.

TT: What can people expect from the show?

Gooden: It’s very theatrical, there’s a lot of production elements in it. We wanted to surprise people with how much we put into it. It’s not just two hours of us on stage talking, especially the second half of the show. So far, we’ve gotten a good response to that but yeah I would say don’t expect us to just do a live version of our YouTube videos. We want to get the most out of the space that we’re in and what we have at our disposal.

Gonzalez: The thing about the commentary videos is that a lot of times we go so overboard that it’s funny, like Drew started selling “Road Work Ahead” signs because of his Vine. Or sometimes at the end of a commentary video, I’ll make a whole song about one part of a movie I thought was funny. I feel like the live show is an extension of that where we were going to do a live show so we asked ourselves how we could make it the most ridiculous thing in the world. I hope people’s expectations are exceeded. But also I hope they go into it with low expectations so their minds are blown.

Gooden: Yeah, go in with low expectations please.

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