A Q&A with Luke Barats of youTube channel BaratsandBereta. As an avid follower of BandB since my discovery of their channel back in 2008, words cannot express how honored I was to be able to do this interview! In a world where fame and success are measured not by money, scandal or good looks – but rather by views, hits and pings, Luke and Joe are the hetero-Brangelina of our time. The guys’ youTube channel has received over 100 million views since 2005…that number barely fits into my iPhone calculator without a major 3-point font change. This is big, people.
What keeps their videos so fun and addicting is that they are always perfectly on point, comedy and editing wise; the duo (who write, direct and act in each of their videos) always seem in tune to what makes people laugh. The variety offers something for every mood or personality, from faux advertisements to “Skitlets,” cynical humor to silly animation shorts, religious bigotry to Bereta puking up milk. It’s like the best of Jackass and SNL with a sprinkling of BandB’s secret spice recipe. Maybe it’s magic, maybe it’s MSG. Either way, these guys are addicting, fun and not bad on the eyeballs.
Join me as I pick Luke’s brain on BandB’s evolution from youTube funny guys to real-life comedic professionals, their upcoming tour, females in comedy, and how to break into the world of “DIY” fame.
How old are you?
Where do you hail from, and where are you living now?
I was born in Eagle, ID (near Boise), then moved to Washington for 7 years, and have lived in Los Angeles for the past three years.
Paint me a romantic picture of how you and Bereta met.
Joe and I met doing improv at Gonzaga University. Neither of us were wearing pants at the time.
The chemistry between you guys is undeniable; in what ways were you drawn to each other?
I was drawn to Joe’s chiseled jawline and ability to do backflips. He was drawn to my nasally voice and outrageous opinions regarding dolphins (they should ALL wear hats!) We also enjoyed each other’s comedy on the improv stage.
Do you ever have disagreements, writing/directing/acting wise? How do you overcome and move past them?
Not really, we’ve been doing vids together for nearly a decade now and have really come to know what to expect from each other. If we ever do come upon something we disagree on, we usually defer to whichever one of us wrote that particular sketch.
Okay, for the sake of this interview not turning homoerotic, we’ll move on. The first videos I’d ever seen from you guys were Mother’s Day and The Good Word, and I’ve probably watched each about 100 times since. I loved observing the progression of your videos from that 2-men and a tripod setup (still homoerotic?) to these high-quality, multi-actor shorts, some of which include pretty fancy computer graphics and animation. And Call from Jail barely included you guys at all! How would you describe this evolution in your own words…and should we expect more videos with you guys playing more of a behind-the-scenes role?
I’d say the only thing that’s really changed is our equipment– we’re fortunate enough to be using much nicer cameras and lights than we were back in the day. Our operation still is a two-men-and-a-tripod sort of thing, it just looks a bit better now because it’s an HD camera on the tripod. In the case of “Call From Jail,” that’s a script I’ve had kicking around for about 5 years. I would’ve loved to have shot that one back in the day, we just didn’t know any performers who could pull it off at the time. So I guess anything suggesting we’re transitioning to behind the camera is accidental… it’s just that now that we’re in Los Angeles and are surrounded by talented / eager performers at every turn we have the luxury of getting people to play additional roles in our scripts.
One of the reasons your channel is so great is the variety in your videos; sometimes they seem to have a personal vendetta behind them (Auto Insurance, Hapi Berth Dey) and other times they are just pure silliness for the sake of a few laughs. Religion makes a pretty significant appearance on your channel as well – do you catch alot of flack for this type of material (God’s Facebook, The Good Word, Great pick-up lines in the Bible, Bible in a Minute, etc.)? If so, how do you defend your blasphemous ways?
We’ve definitely gotten some flack for pretty much every video we’ve ever made that so much as mentioned God in any way. I’m pretty dismissive of that particular type of feedback, though, to be perfectly honest. I was brought up in a very religious environment and harbor a great deal of respect for all religions to this day. I’ve never made anything that was intended to offend.
I once read in another interview you did that getting a ton of hits was always a “bonus, not a destination” for you guys… But seriously, do you ever just stop and say, “Wow. 100 million f-ing views? How did this happen?”
Yeah, it is pretty mind-blowing to think about. What’s even more mind-blowing are the numbers that some of the YouTube channels bigger than ours are putting up… I mean, there are some YouTube channels that have more viewership than most TV programs. And to think that YouTube wasn’t even around six years ago. Crazy.
Tell me about your 3 proudest moments that happened before you were 25…comedy-related or not.
Hmm… they would probably be 1) earning Valedictorian in high school, 2) making the Varsity baseball team, and 3) running the mile in under seven minutes in 5th grade.
Do you think there will ever come a time that your youTube channel will take a backseat to your more serious, money-making ventures (e.g. writing a pilot for NBC, your stand-up comedy tour, etc.)? Or do you think it’s career-healthy to have a low-pressure creative outlet?
I’m sure there will be stints of time where the channel takes a back seat, but in the grand scheme of things the channel is something I think will always be steadily maintained. Television and movies are highly collaborative and a lot of people are involved… which means a bunch of people mess with your shit. With YouTube there’s none of that– if I write a script that I think is funny, the only thing separating that unadulterated script from the audience is some production elbow grease on my part. It’s every writer’s goal to have their work produced, and YouTube allows me to do that better than anything. So no, I don’t see the channel getting the heave-ho anytime soon.
What can people expect from the stand-up tour? Will it be mostly sketch comedy or actual stand-up, punch-line jokes?
Sketch, sketch, sketch. Joe and I will come out and do a bunch of sketch.
In the comedy business, it’s clearly an advantage to be a male. People seem to fight the fact that funny women exist! It took a few videos for women to appear in your sketches, and even then they were often “girlfriends” in the background, the damsel in distress or big-boobied targets in your “Great pick-up lines” series. And don’t even get me started on “Got your number!” Explain yourself and your sexist ways in 8 words or less:
We weren’t cast in “Steel Magnolias.” Payback.
Just kidding. Well, sort of. A woman has finally made an appearance (as an angry girlfriend) in your latest video, F-U and I loved it! Do you have plans to incorporate more funny ladies into your videos or even in your pilot (please say yes)?
Being an all-male comedy duo, most of our sketches can be accomplished with just the two of us. If we have a script that requires to non-gender specific roles (Superhero Dunks, for instance) those two primary roles will always go to Joe and myself simply because of the way we brand our channel. I would argue that if you strip away all the Luke and Joe roles from our vids what you’re left with are a bunch of supporting roles, split pretty darn evenly between males and females alike. The lead roles in our sketches have always been Joe and myself, though, and for the most part it will likely stay that way. But yes, we have a bunch of buddies– both male and female– that we hope to get into our vids / projects sooner or later.
Any favorite youTube channels you can recommend to viewers who enjoy yours?
Picnicface, NeilCicierega, TitledSketchProject, and MagicHugs!
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming actors, youTubers, comedians, etc.?
It’s never been easier to shoot video and get your name out there, so performers no longer need to wait around to be given an opportunity to perform. Any time you turn on your webcam is an opportunity in a world with internet– you have no excuse anymore! DIY!