We all have that one friend that gives us carte blanche to be silly, spontaneous, inappropriate, to gross each other out, and make each other howl with laughter. Pipe in some original music, scripted sequiturs, and point a camera at it, and that’s the genesis of Rhett & Link boiled down to its raw essence.
Childhood friends, Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal III capitalized on that chemistry, developing an inspired and hilarious YouTube channel that allowed them to embrace their shared brand of humor as “Internetainers.”
“We coined the moniker “internetainer” very early on in our YouTube career. We were, and in many ways still are, figuring out what it means to be comedians, creators, producers, and business owners with the internet as the starting point,” explains Neal. “We had to invent how it was going to work for us. So, we invented a term to go along with it.”
Fans of the pair can experience the mythical magic of Rhett & Link Live in Concert September 7th at the Florida Theatre (www.floridatheatre.com). The 2019 Tour features two different performances. “We’ve been doing touring on and off all year with our Rhett & Link Live show, which features our comedy music,” says Neal. “But, for one week only, we developed a completely different show to time with the release of our novel “The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek,” in late October.”
The novel is a comedic thriller about two best friends fighting the sinister forces at the heart of their small Southern town. Says Neal, “That show fleshes out all of our personal connections to the story.”
The Jacksonville show features Rhett & Link Live in Concert performing many of their popular comedy songs including ‘Rub Some Bacon on It’ and ‘My OCD’ and introducing new material as well. They are also using their Instagram to solicit restaurant recommendations and plan to dine at the two with the most votes. Later, they will reveal their favorite.
“The music is obviously a big part of the experience. But I’d also say expect the unexpected. That’s how we approach each night,” Neal says. “A large part of the show is discovering how much fun we can have in the moment, so you can expect a lot of the unpredictable banter you’ve come to expect from us behind the desk on GMM, but instead on a stage right in front of you.”
It might be hard to imagine that a song like “It’s My Belly Button” would work, but these guys can actually sing and create smart, imaginative music that illustrates that fact. The result is ridiculously entertaining for the audience and performers alike.
McLaughlin and Neal established the Mythical Entertainment brand as a launchpad for their early comedy songs, surreal sketches, and low-budget local commercials. The duo created its flagship comedy talk show, Good Mythical Morning (GMM) in 2012. Today, it has over 15 million subscribers, 100 million monthly views, and nearly six billion total views on YouTube.
While the pair graduated with engineering degrees from North Carolina University, they left their respected careers to pursue entertainment. Good Mythical Morning (GMM) has 1,500 over episodes, many involving the pair eating bugs, smelling deer urine and fish spray, testing their tolerance for the world’s hottest peppers and ingesting many unforgiving food combinations to answer the important question, “Will It?”
It’s a respectable outlet for the antics of two best friends from Buies Creek, North Carolina, who eschewed engineering degrees to determine whether bull testicles are appropriate smoothie ingredients. In the age of “Youtubers” and inane social media influencers, Neal and McLaughlin have taken the art of “Internetaining” to a respectable level.
“I’m glad you consider eating assorted animal testicles and testing vacuum cleaners by sucking up beach sand respectable. We believe it’s very respectable and important to find out what would happen if you put Windex through a water filter; or leave red wine in a hot car for a month,” cites Neal.
At its core, the continued success of Good Mythical Morning and the music, books and tours that followed is bigger than the art of branding. It’s the heart of friendship.
Let’s talk about that.
“Well, when we met as first graders, I’m sure we hit it off because we were both so weird and silly. But getting others to buy in to that…I think a big milestone was as seventh graders, when we attended the regional Junior Beta Club convention. These were the smart kids from all over the tri-county area. And in the middle of the main assembly, they had some technical difficulties with the speaker’s presentation. So, someone gets up there and says they need ten minutes to fix it ‘if anyone wants to come up and tell a few jokes to fill time’,” Neal remembers.
“So, I shot up there and grabbed the microphone even though I knew no jokes. I entered a comedy-fugue state and remember nothing of what I said. But at some point, it must’ve gone south because Rhett came up to bail me out. He didn’t know any jokes either, but I think the entire situation (and my performance) became one. We’ve never looked back.”
The pair documented their elementary school meeting in a cute song and documentary “Looking for Ms. Locklear” about the first-grade teacher that made them stay inside during recess for writing swear words on their desks. They colored pictures of mythical beasts, which is the name of their loyal fan base.
“Good Mythical Morning” has welcomed some pretty esteemed celebrity guests throughout 15 seasons. Shay Mitchell of “Pretty Little Liars” tricked Neal into eating (and regurgitating) a lamb brain during an episode of “Meal or No Meal?” while Bill Hader and Amy Schumer played a game of “What are we Smeeling?” – a hybrid of smelling and feeling – while promoting their film “Trainwreck.” Mayim Bialik joined the duo to dissect a frog, and Daniel Radcliffe played “The What If?” game to support his aptly titled film ‘What If.”
“Having Kobe Bryant on the show was pretty wild. And then making him hiccup while eating spicy food was surreal. Post Malone had a blast and revealed himself to be a huge fan. He was calling all the crew members by name when he showed up! And having Jack Black rip the head off of our cardboard Santa Claus was an absolute honor,” recalls Neal.
“At this point, I honestly don’t know if there’s anything that we won’t try. Let me clarify that: anything technically edible that we won’t try. We may be done with peppers, however, after eating the Carolina Reaper. As far as celebrities go, the guys from 5 Seconds of Summer – we really put them through the ringer in an upcoming episode.”
While most “internetainers” seem to cater to a younger crowd, Rhett & Link have managed to capture the adult audience. The duo has appeared on The Tonight Show where Jimmy Fallon helped them answer the question “Will It Tea?”
“We try to make each other laugh. And do things that we are interested in. So, we talk to our audience the way we talk to each other. We’re over 40, but at the same time we’re still pretty much middle-schoolers. So, we tend to have a broad reach.
McLaughlin and Neal continue to build their brand into a Mythical empire, recently acquiring the long-running YouTube comedy channel SMOSH after parent company Defy Media shut down last November. Though he didn’t disclose terms of the acquisition, Mythical reportedly paid less than $10 million in cash for SMOSH, which was acquired from a holding company representing Defy’s creditors, according to a source familiar with the pact. Mythical Entertainment financed the acquisition out of its own pocket.
“We are constantly looking for ways to expand our business at Mythical. And we had the perfect opportunity with Smosh. They are one of the most successful and ubiquitous comedy brands online. And when they needed a new home, it worked out perfectly,” says Neal of the deal which allowed Smosh to bring back around 15 original onscreen and producing talents and build up a team of around 30 that now works out of Mythical’s headquarters, while giving each the autonomy to continue doing its own thing.
“The truth is, we do take our incredibly silly job very seriously. We want to serve up a dose of laughter to anyone willing to stomach making us a part of their daily routine. And we know that hinges on our friendship, sharing the honest fun we have hanging out together. But it also means being committed to fresh creative ideas and high production value, which is why our entire Mythical team is so important,” says Neal.
“We don’t know exactly what we will end up sharing with the audience – and each other. But it’s special to get in the same room with a bunch of other mythical beasts and celebrate the three tenets of mythicality: creativity, curiosity, and tom foolery.’