"We are LoadingReadyRun. And we're the last, best goddamn hope for humanity."
—Graham Starknote From the sketch Forward Facing. Right before a cowboy hat falls from above and lands perfectly on his head.
Early in 2003, two guys named Graham and Paul figured making a website where they could show off some of their videos would be a good idea.Several months later, when they remembered the idea, they started work on it. After a couple design concepts, they settled on Loading Ready Run, inspired in name and appearance by the Commodore 64 home computer system from the '80s. See, they're also big geeks.More than just showing off their few previous works, Graham and Paul decided to make new videos. Lots of new videos. Like, one every week. As well as being big geeks, they also make very poor and ambitious decisions. Despite the thoroughly insane schedule they'd set up for themselves, and even though there was work and school to deal with, LRR has yet to miss a week's update.Loadingreadyrun.com is based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada — and is quite possibly made of pure awesome.From their initial sketch comedy scenarios, they've also created a whole host of Web Original series. Their ongoing series include:
LoadingReadyRun: Self-titled sketch comedy show. Began on the team's website and is now hosted at The Escapist on Mondays. Set to end officially after 2014. (Relax, guys, they crew's not going anywhere, just focusing on other projects.)
Checkpoint: A Mock The News style fake news show, focused on the video game industry and just dripping with snark. Formerly a show on Penny Arcade TV, now streamed live (as PATV no longer hosts 3rd party content).
Since Penny Arcade stopped supporting third party content at the start of 2014, Checkpoint almost got cancelled, but because some extra money was found in the Kickstarter budget, Checkpoint lives on as Checkpoint Plus, live streamed every Monday at 2:00 PM Pacific, with the video going up on LRR's Youtube page by the next day.
commodoreHUSTLE: Originally a sitcom based on the cast's real life but pretty quickly creating wackier scenarios while still keeping a lot of incidents from reality. After one season, it was decided to be too much work to continue, and now commodoreHUSTLE is an irregular series subbing in on the weekly Monday sketch show.
Desert Bus For Hope: A once-a-year show aimed at raising money for Child's Play. The crew play one incredibly boring videogame non-stop for as long as people will keep on paying them to do it. The most recent iteration took over six days.
Feed Dump: Graham plus two (usually) guests discuss weird news items and riff wildly. Shows at The Escapist on Wednesdays
The resuscitated Graham and Paul Let's Play, a spinoff of Unskippable
Several new shows hosted by various crewmembers list Beej's Backlog (mostly Gamecube games), IDDQDerp with Alex (FPS and indie titles), The Book of Passwords with Jer (biweekly, childhood classics), Kathleen Saves the World (JRPGs), A Swiftly Tilting Cameron (strategy games), Video Games with Video James (Minecraft and other PC games), House of Stark (things Graham feels obligated as a fan to play), Things On My Stream (A solo-Paul stream for when Graham is unavailable for GPLP) and the newly-minted Watch and Play! (aka "Graham Inflicts A Game On Alex"; Graham and Alex play crappy games on purpose) as well as Let's Nope where Alex plays horror games with a cohost. (When Alex plays a horror game that ends up being terrible, these are sometimes retroactively referred to by fans as Watch and Nope streams.).
Sadly, some shows have also fallen by the wayside. Shows once in production but no longer include:
The Whatever Thing: The grandfather of Feed Dump, a rambling vidcast style show hosted by Morgan that was more-or-less just him talking about the news, sometimes with Graham helping out. Notable for spawning MAN COOKING, a cooking show hosted by Morgan via subvertedTestosterone Poisoning. Despite this, Morgan's lack of interest killed the show, before it rose again as...
Phailhaüs: Which took the rough idea of The Whatever Thing but replaced Morgan with Graham as the lead host, often supplemented by guests. Used jump-cuts between guests to create a rapid-fire style of delivery. Featured another cooking episode. Huge hit with their fans, and the direct model for Feed Dump. (Indeed, early episodes of Feed Dump show more influence from Phailhaüs than later ones, as that show grew into its own thing.) While not expressly dead, the crew have admitted it's basically been replaced by Feed Dump.
Things on my Head: A show created by Paul for Operation: Viral. The show consists of Paul balancing an assortment of objects on his head while silently staring at the camera. Each episode lasts one minute and twenty-one seconds.
As a call-back, Paul will sometimes begin Things on my Stream by balancing something, before breaking into the news stories.
In addition, under their Bionic Trousers Media label, the Loading Ready Run crew worked on the web reality shows Strip Search (in collaboration with Penny Arcade) and Tabletop Deathmatch (in collaboration with Cards Against Humanity). They post miscellaneous bonus videos on their website, do Magic: The Gathering Online drafts biweekly for Mt GO Academy, and update two podcasts in the time left over. Even excluding the series without regular update schedules, they really do have a staggering level of output.
This site provides examples of:
A Day in the Limelight: One episode of Commodore Hustle had Tally, Cam, Dale and Kate trying to deal with someone who sent them a crate of bees for Desert Bus.
Acting for Two: This was often the case in the early days of the site, especially when the only actors were Graham and Paul. In the Loading Ready Rumble (a battle royale of characters from past videos), 25 characters were played by seven people.
RapStar 64K is also rather insane, as only two out of the eight cast members play only one character.
The Alcoholic: "The Couch" can easily be interpreted as a man trying to over-come his alcoholism but eventually giving up due to how prevalent drinking is in modern culture.
Analogy Backfire: Overlaps with Sidetracked by the Analogy in the Rapidfire sketches, where Graham's character Jeff tries to explain simple concepts to Johnny's character using complex analogies, and Johnny completely fails to understand.
Graham: So, these (indicating about thirty soft drink cans) represent the 300 Spartans, and ... this (takes Johnny's soft drink can) represents the one million Persians.
Johnny: One - one million?
Johnny: (indicates the lone can) This is one million Persians?
Avengers Assemble: Parodied and Enforced in The Job — because it was their first major video hosted by the Escapist, they used the trope as an excuse to introduce the cast. In-universe, the job turns out to be moving a couch.
Broken Aesop: A mild version in Xavier. Xavier is a figment of Martin's imagination which tries to tell him to stop playing video games and spend some quality time with his girlfriend.
Xavier: You need me to remind you that Karen is not a toy. She's not just going to sit on a shelf. If you leave her alone long enough, eventually she's going to run into someone like me...
It turns out, however, that his girlfriend's idea of quality time is playing video games. Lampshaded:
Xavier: Oh, Martin. You really don't need me, you know.
Butt Monkey: Matt; both in the 'them playing them' videos and in the group in general. Unlike traditional Butt Monkeys, the group defends him if the forums get too vocal with Matt insults, and Matt normally gives as good as he gets. Nonetheless, LRR aren't shy about the trope, and during DB 3 a running gag began where Matt was personally blamed for all the world's problems.
Yet another cameo, though he doesn't actually appear in person, is Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation as the narrator for the video Save Our Games. And, again, while he doesn't show up in person, he does mention at the end that he's narrator, at which point his Zero Punctuation character appears on screen for a second or two.
Canada, Eh?: Had fun poking fun at some typical Canadian stereotypes in Canadaman. In it, the eponymous hero faces off against his francophone nemesis: Jaques Francois.
"Canada is Sorry" pokes fun at Canadian stereotypes.
Catch Phrase: Graham's "Phunny story". Particularly during LRRcasts and the Phailhaus.
The head of Evil Inc. has "Daaaaamn..."
Jangles and Jones have "Ain't no thang" or something like that.
Throughout commodoreHUSTLE, Matt says "It's the principle of the matter" when someone asks why he's doing something the complicated way. Paul turns this against him to cheat him out of cookies.
In MAN COOKING, Morgan has "Manliness is in direct proportion to largeliness!" and "If your girlfriend likes your cooking, you're doing it wrong!"
Gaming blog Sir Fragsalot.com, as mentioned frequently in ENN, is a real website
Chekhov's Gag: Every Jonny story so far has ended with the line "...and THAT was when I blacked out". In the third installment he finally explains that this is because he has a crippling fear of heights, and the situations he got into - leaping from one rooftop to another, doing a handstand on the ÜbderKeg Supreme, riding a roller-coaster - all triggered his phobia.
Clothes Make the Legend: Even when playing different characters, the crew always find ways to put Paul in a labcoat, and make James a cop with a bushy fake mustache. Alex's welding goggles seem to be something he actually wears all the time, however...which may even be better.
Including: Trench coat full of other trench coats and in another instance a seedy back alley salesman selling designer sunglasses
Continuity Nod: Insofar as there is any continuity in the LRRverse to begin with, callbacks to ArMEGAddon come up every now and then. Looks like it caught on after all.
These sorts of references to previous videos used to be far, far more common. At one point in time, more than half the videos posted as weekly updates made at least one subtle nod to a past joke. When the series was picked up by the Escapist, it was made was made less self-referential for the sake of potential new fans.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: In a somewhat unorthodox way of raising money for the Penny Arcade "Child's Play" charity, they played Desert Bus for almost a week non-stop. Given that Desert Bus consists of driving a slow bus down a dead straight road between Tucson and Las Vegas, without being able to pause or save, in real time, it's not surprising that they considered it a terrible torture.
It's WORSE. It constantly turns so you can't take your hands off the controller. And the worst part? If you go off the road, you get towed back to Tuscon, at the same speed: 50 mph...in real time. However, this defeats continuous play, so the crew resets when it happens.
In their very first video, Graham messes up one of his lines, causing Paul to start laughing. For whatever reason, it wasn't re-shot, but it did fade into a different shot, presumably to allow them to regain their composure.
The Phailhaus's signature cutaway style frequently allowed for somebody to tell a really bad joke, then cut to a different story before the other hosts' laughter got too loud. It was fairly common to see them start laughing though.
Demoted to Extra: Bill, Morgan, Tim and Jer, who each left the crew for their own reasons.
Fanservice: When the crew attempted to achieve viral success with anonymous YouTube accounts, Kathleen released a video called "I heard you liek tits". Which utterly failed to generate viral fame, primarily because she chose to wear a reasonably supportive bra while shaking her moneymaker. Or moneymakers, as the case may be.
Ironically, Kathleen's noticeable assets later became a subject of entirely unintentional Fanservice when she forgot to bring her camisole to an ENN shoot. The Escapist's policy on video comment pages changed almost overnight.
Moderator: I understand that in the Internet microcosm what was said are compliments, but in the real world it's considered harassment.
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Fourth Wall Greeting: In a number of their videos, a character will look at the camera and say "Oh, hi. I didn't see you there"
Fun with Acronyms: In Cruise Vacation, where a happy couple get invited on a cruise by the Freedom Bank International. Turns out they were being arrested for fraud, larceny, embezzlement and copyright infringement, and the cruise was just a convenient (and surprisingly cheap) way of detaining them.
Also in this Feed Dump, which also uses the letters "FBI" to explain the supposed roles of the hosts.
Graham: Hey everybody. I'm the Federal Booty Inspector, Graham. Joining me this week is a Federated Beetle Informant, Paul ... and a Fiery Boysenberry Island, Kathleen.
Honest John's Dealership: The Season One video "Joe's Used Cars" is the embodiment of this trope. Chris Nohr's character dupes Graham's character into buying a really run-down old car, before taking the cheque, taking down the "Joe's Used Cars" sign, and running away. It's at this point that Graham's character realizes that he has been standing in a perfectly ordinary car-park the whole time.
Insane Troll Logic: Graham's explanation of the relationship between time and money in Time is Money. It actually works, so that when it comes to Nate paying off his debt by trading it for time, he spontaneously dies of old age and decomposes into a skeleton.
Graham once again, this time in Cruising. Gay men use the only men's restroom in the building to "cruise" for casual sex. Everyone should know this, because it's in the school's monthly gay newsletter. Being straight doesn't preclude reading the gay newsletter, because after all, plenty of guys who are gay don't read it. Oh, and lesbians cruise in that restroom too; they can't use the women's room, because it's the only one in the building! That would be absurd.
It's a Wonderful Plot: The Christmas special It's a Wonderful Game is a silly take on this trope. The protagonist, in a rage about not being able to defeat the original Super Mario Bros.. after he had run out of new games to play, wishes that Mario had never been made. The result? "Bring him back! Bring Mario back!"
Referenced in the Ways to Avoid Christmas video, in which Matt tackles the angel (played by Paul) before he can convince the protagonist not to jump off the bridge.
Lower Deck Episode: Arguably, several early videos featuring Kathleen and her kooky friends, since they deviate from the usual cast and location so drastically. (Includes Job Hunt and Stuck In A Car With Your Friends)They were usually made due to filming constraints. Namely, the fact that Graham was in Prince George at the time.
"Until next time remember: there may be better sources for news, but they don't have *while placing a Nice Hat upon his head* this hat."
No Animals Were Harmed: Played with in "Ted the Cat" for the Daily Drop, where the standard procedure for failed drops is to hit the unbroken object with a crowbar. The drop falls into the 'unsatisfactory' category, and the video then goes through all the motions of showing the cat being hit with a crowbar... but instead they drop him a second time, where he lands more gracefully.
One of the scouts in Scouts Dishonor is no longer allowed to handle potatoes due to "The Lunch Tray Incident".
No Peripheral Vision: Exaggerated in En Garde, where the two guards played by Matt and Paul can't see Andy breaking into the facility because they are so focused on looking the way they were ordered; even when Matt brings up the idea of "looking that way once in a while", and gestures towards Andy, missing him by centimeters, they still don't notice him because they never actually look directly at him.
Junk in the Trunk features a car drive that goes for almost exactly five minutes. And every single second of that drive was done in one shot, complete with voice-over dialogue from Paul (who is not visible) and reactions from Beej and Cam (who are visible).
The 'Bed Buggery' sketch had Graham tell Matt that his acting wasn't believable. Subverted in the stinger, which repeated the scene, ending with the two staring at the camera and then a boom mike moving across the shot.
Pants-Free: In "Wyyy" and as a closing gag in the Phailhaus
Periphery Demographic In-Universe: One episode had them learn that Matt and a large chunk of the fanbase were Bronies. The entire cast was converted by the end of the episode.
Portmanteau: In "The Pub" where The Pub was the Portmanteau Club. Among other awkward entries.
The Rashomon: Plays with this trope in the video The Season 4 Finale. In it, the usual characters are gathered as old men at the site's 30-year reunion. None of them can agree on what happened in the Season 4 Finale, each of them proposing their own self-interested version that the others claim is erroneous.
Real Men Eat Meat: Man Cooking. They did once do a 'vegetarian episode', but it consisted of making a giant mushroom... out of meat.
Recycled IN SPACE!: In Ways to Stay Warm one listed method is a "Space Heater," and a character is show sitting next to one. The next shot is of that same character slowly tumbling across the screen, over a backdrop of earth from orbit while the music momentarily shifts to a more 2001-esque melody. The listed method? "Spaaaaaace Heater."
Rhymes on a Dime: Overlaps with Painful Rhyme in Rebellin', where Graham and Morgan find every excuse to rhyme their sentences with "Jellin'", making them sound to Paul like "really annoying pod people".
Graham: How 'bout an example of what you're foretellin'?
Paul: Okay, what kind of jackets are you wearing?
Morgan: Oh, we're lapellin'.
Graham: I'm also pastellin'.
Morgan: Nice. (high-fives Graham)
Paul: And those really expensive shoes you just bought? What are they made out of?
Also, Graham recoiling at the sight of creepydolls.
The pelvic thrust is a recurring visual gag still present to this very day.
From Feed Dump:
Graham: [Describes improbable event]...which I've just learned is a thing...[continues]
Sadistic Choice: Parodied in Meatfist's Terrible Choice. The villain forgot to balance the options The villain has the hero choose between saving the orphanage OR seeing his girlfriend thrown off a building. Double subverted in that Meatfist ends up convinced its a trick question.
Serial Escalation: In the Daily Drop, there was the Santa Candle, which took three strikes of the crowbar to break. There was also the Television, which didn't break even when a cinder block was dropped on it, as well as the fish which everything bounced off. And just to add insult to injury, a common light bulb survived the drop, prompting an outcry of "WHAT??"
And Morgan in the first Whatever Thing, wondering how on Earth the crew managed to stick to their weekly update schedule for three whole years:
Morgan: Seriously, the fact that this site is still in operation may soon cause a rift in the very fabric of space-time.
Shaggy Dog Story: The Story Guy videos are based almost entirely around this trope. Installments such as Grilled Cheese and Rare Book have the Story Guy go on at great length for what is eventually revealed to be no point at all.
Something Else Also Rises: In the Skeletor video, where Pat and Geoff face off with Skeletor, Skeletor raises his arm very slowly... and points right at them. Then, for good measure, he uses his other hand to point at his groin.
Spin-Off: One can argue that Morgan's attempt at creating The Whatever Thing was, in fact, an ill-thought out yet hilarious spin-off. While brief, it did bring us such joyous experiences as Panda Porn and Whitey.
Graham later took the format and spun it off (relatively) more successfully into Phailhaus. Feed Dump can be considered a further iteration on the format.
A more solid example of a spinoff of LRR is Unskippable, a MST3K romp though cutscenes that is hosted on The Escapist (ie: The place where Zero Punctuation is hosted)
The Graham and Paul Let's Plays (GPLPs) started out as a spin-off of Unskippable.
Another example is the series of shorts called crapshots, done by Graham, Alex and whoever happens to be around.
The vlog "The Idiot Room" done during Graham's employment at a place called Pixpo contained elements that were later used in the Phailhaüs like the Word Of The Day and the Day Of The Day.
Stab The Salad: The "The Basement" videos revolve around Axe Hand embodying this trope. He knocks people out and absconds to his house with them (well, he calls them a cab) so they can do household chores for him. Or just keep him company.
In Ways to Spend Valentine's (Alone), "Take up a hobby" is suggested, and Paul is shown raising a very large kitchen knife (and grinning maniacally at it)... then raising a cookbook in his other hand and inspecting it.
The Stinger: Happens after the credits in all the videos since the move to The Escapist.
Stylistic Suck: The Desert Bus Rap, wherein everyone is lifeless, arrhythmic and awkward.
Suddenly Sexuality: Parodied in The Worst Homosexual, wherein Morgan suddenly decides that he's gay (because, as Graham summarizes, he's "too good at being straight"). He spends the remainder of the episode trying to be gay, but keeps accidentally sleeping with women.
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Tell Me Again: Double Subverted in the Bandwidth Exceeded video. Graham walks into his house and is punched in the face by his roommate, Matt. Next scene: Graham and Matt are both standing in the kitchen, and Graham has a bag of frozen peas up to his head.
Graham: Okay, explain to me again... where we got frozen peas. Because I didn't buy them, and I'm certainly not going to eat them.
Matt: My mom brought over a care package, so we wouldn't starve to death like my last roommate did.
There Is Only One Bed: Graham and Paul are often depicted as sleeping in the same bed, complete with matching pyjamas and night caps as a light parody of cartoon characters who do this for no apparent reason.