My Brother, My Brother, & Me, often abbreviated MBMBaM,note is a comedy podcast that describes itself as "an advice show for the modren era". The titular brothers (Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy) take questions from their listeners and try their best to help them out with their personal problems. As the disclaimer that opens each show notes, this advice often isn't the greatest. Frequently, one of the brothers will say something that'll send the three of them off on a tangent of non-sequiturs. Their listeners will also sometimes submit questions found on Yahoo Answers (a service they are convinced is filled with "the terrible dregs of humanity"), and will mock them while still trying to help them out.
The brothers were given the opportunity to bring their show into a live action format, with the first season airing in February 2017 on Seeso, and moving to VRV Select after Seeso announced its plans for closure in August 2017.
Besides that, the brothers also do a yearly side podcast with Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery of The Worst Idea of All Time fame, called Til Death Do Us Blart. The premise is somewhat similar to that of Worst Idea: watch and review Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 on every American Thanksgiving until the end of time.
A sampler can be found here.
This podcast contains these tropes:
- Accidental Pun: Griffin does one in episode 29. He says that to give an recommendation to a person, it would depend entirely on that person's job. Because if you are a surgeon, you need to look sharp.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Justin's love for his "big, beautiful, Buick Enclave" becomes a Running Gag in newer episodes.
- Ambiguous Syntax:
- One Yahoo question brought on some brief confusion as to whether it referred to "cat people" (people who prefer cats as pets) or "cat-people."
- When trying to come up with a new name for a listener, Travis suggests "Bishop Laserkiller" and Griffin questions why would he kill lasers.
- Ambiguously Bi: Though in reality Griffin is straight, he's certainly not shy about expressing attraction for other men.Justin: Griffin, did you say you may be a little bi?
Griffin: A little high, but that, maybe also.
- Amusing Injuries: The brothers occasionally talk about funny ways their father has hurt himself, including cutting his butt open and using a maxi pad as a bandage, passing out from mixing kitty litter and bleach in a poorly-ventilated room, and getting hit by a van while carrying cold cuts to a Little League game.Justin: If I had seen this happen, I would fucking still be laughing about it.
- Ascended Fanboy: In episode 400, Justin begins the show talking about hanging out with Jimmy Buffett and seeing both Hamilton and Escape to Margaritaville with him and Lin-Manuel Miranda (who is himself this for the McElroy brothers).
- Audience Participation:
- When Justin introduces "Munch Squad" at live shows, the audience joins in with "Squad!" at the appropriate times.
- Being an advice podcast (with the loosest meaning of the word), listeners are encouraged to send in their own questions, as well as questions from the Yahoo Answers service.
- Travis tries to increase audience participation in episode 495 with the bit “Play Along at Home!” Since he introduced it during a normal episode, he only had the other boys to play with.
- Author Appeal: None of the brothers is above talking about their interests. For Justin, this includes his love of Jimmy Buffett and island vacations, and for Griffin, this includes things such as Carly Rae Jepsen, Pokémon, and vore.note They also had a segment where they talked about how they would never talk about being into odd kinks ("sexual waffle irons" for Griffin, while Travis "couldn't stop walrusing"; the punchline being Justin unable to think of something kinky so he just said, "s-sex? weird sex?", resulting in disgust from Griffin and Travis).
- Black Comedy: While imagining scenarios to answer a Yahoo about how one should describe a non-human character in a book taking five blades out of their chest, when it gets to be Justin's turn, he has the alien protagonist pulling them out extremely slowly, inch by inch, swearing profusely, and vomiting and blacking out from the intense pain. Repeat four more times to get every other blade out.
- Bondage Is Bad: Averted. One of the most frequent early sponsors of the show was Extreme Restraints, a BDSM sex toy shop, with over 50 sponsored episodes.
- Brick Joke: Episode 400 is the brothers doing press for a red carpet event. Having been given a guide to the celebrities present, Justin proceeds to guess damn near every celebrity present is Matt Doyle. In episode 482, Lin-Manuel Miranda brings a special guest up on stage...Justin: Lin told us he had a special guest, would not tell us who it was. ... I walked past the room [backstage] where Lin was with his special guest and had this exact though verbatim: "Is that Matt Doyle?"
- Bring My Brown Pants: Griffin tells a story in episode 89, where "he fell over and pooped his pants a little bit" while trying to run to third and that he couldn't play anymore.
- Buried Alive: Justin gets buried alive for a week as a stunt during MaxFunDrive 2012.
- "You want a yahoo?"
- Some variant of "Let's go the Money Zone" for, well, the Money Zone segments.
- "I'm your oldest brother Justin McElroy, I'm your middlest brother Travis McElroy, and I'm your sweet baby brother Griffin McElroy", or some variation thereof, is used as the sign-on for each episode.
- Ever since being placed on the Forbes 30-Under-30 list, Griffin often introduces himself as such. Sometimes several times per episode.Griffin: There are people who work at these theaters who hear me say that every night and must think I'm the biggest dong in the world.
- "This has been My Brother, My Brother, and Me, kiss your dad square on the lips" has been used as the sign-off since episode 12. In early episodes, the brothers occasionally followed this with "TEENS!"
- In the TV series, Clint has the disclaimer that proceeds the opening of every episode.Clint: The McElroy Brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed. They're just three brothers who created a podcast and now they've returned to their hometown to tape a TV show. Also: this show isn't for kids, which I mention only so you babies out there know how cool you are for watching. What's up, you cool baby?
- Continuity Cavalcade: Lin-Manuel Miranda provides one in the opening to 482, set, naturally, to "We Didn't Start the Fire".Travis: He remembers more bits than I do! I assume extensive Googling was involved.
- Creepy Doll: Justin hosts a sub-segment called "Haunted Doll Watch" in which the brothers read and ridicule eBay entries about supposedly haunted dolls.
- Taken to the next level in the TV series, where Justin actually buys a haunted doll from eBay.
- Don't Try This at Home: Listeners are urged not to follow the brothers' advice.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The show has noticeably changed over time, and the boys recommend new listeners start from episode 100, when the show's comedy style and inclusive brand had become more established.
- Bob Ball's introduction (see top of page) and the theme song, the Long Winters' "It's a Departure", were introduced partway into the series' run. Earlier episodes don't have an introduction, open instead with Abba's "Take a Chance on Me", and end with Fear of Pop's "Root to This" and later on, UGK's "Int'l Players Anthem".
- The general format of episodes has stayed the same, but earlier in the series, the boys would offer some actual advice instead of only using the questions as jumping-off points for improv. Additionally, while the comedy was never cruel, it was noticeably more mean-spirited and picked on early 2010s "acceptable targets" like the Furry Fandom.
- Fan Boy: Justin is a fan of Jimmy Buffett and Griffin of Carly Rae Jepsen.
- Formula-Breaking Episode: Occasional episodes will not just add a little variable but change the formula so much that the brothers are out of their element.
- The biggest example is probably episode 400, where Jimmy Buffett invites them to the red carpet premiere of Escape to Margaritaville...as media. The brothers spend their time at the event desperately struggling with their social anxiety, asking celebrities stupid questions like "What's the scariest sea creature?", and wondering whether Buffett's invitation was a friendly gesture or deliberate torture.Justin: I'm in hell. This is hell.
Griffin: We've got to stop saying "this is hell" when we interview people.
- Episode 528 became entirely dedicated to the movie The War With Grandpa, a Robert De Niro film that had the audacity to release only in theatres during the COVID-19 Pandemic. What started off as just a "watch" segment soon spiralled out of control as the brother vacillated between mocking, praising, and attempting to reenact the film without having ever seen it. No questions were answered.
- The biggest example is probably episode 400, where Jimmy Buffett invites them to the red carpet premiere of Escape to Margaritaville...as media. The brothers spend their time at the event desperately struggling with their social anxiety, asking celebrities stupid questions like "What's the scariest sea creature?", and wondering whether Buffett's invitation was a friendly gesture or deliberate torture.
- In-Series Nickname: Griffin has a lot of nicknames for Justin, including "Juice", "Hoops," "J-dog", and "J-man".
- Travis is sometimes called "Trav", "Travvy" or "Scraps".
- Griffin is often called "Griff", "Griffy", or "Ditto".
- Insane Troll Logic: "FURRIES CAN DO INFINITE CRIME!"
- Late to the Punchline: In one live show, Griffin describes a prank his brothers pulled on him when they were children, but only realized it was a prank as he was describing it.Griffin: I haven't been to Olive Garden in many moons, but they do have, like, a little, like, fettuccine bottle that you can just grab them out of and chew—hold on! Is this a prank you guys pulled on me when we went to Olive Garden as kids?! [audience laughs] No, stop! Everybody, shut up! Do they give you raw fettuccine to chew on in the lobby of the Olive Garden?
Griffin: YOU FUCKING BASTARDS!
Travis: [overjoyed] YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
[Cue MASSIVE audience reaction.]
- The Oldest Ones in the Book: One their ads features them claiming to be the first podcast, with Griffin stating they appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Justin calling MBMBAM the "Hammurabi Code of podcasts".
- Old School Introductory Rap: In a deleted scene for the show, one of Travis's attempts to add a "rap break" to the end of a song is done in this style, which Griffin points out is "from the Fruity Pebbles commercial".Travis: My name is Travis, and I'm here to say, I love giving advice in a major way!
- Once per Episode:
- The brothers introducing themselves with statements varied around:Justin: I'm your oldest brother, Justin.
Travis: I'm your middlest brother, Travis.
Griffin: And I'm your SWEET baby brother, Griffin.
- Following episode 13, Justin signs off every episode with "Kiss your dad square on the lips".
- Just before the sign-off, Griffin reads one final Yahoo question that inevitably leaves Justin and Travis laughing hysterically.
- The brothers introducing themselves with statements varied around:
- Our Vampires Are Different: Count Donut, a vampire from Donutvania who kills Justin and takes over his body to do Munch Squads about Halloween themed donuts. When he's not running Munch Squad he lies dormant within Justin's body and when he emerges Justin's soul is sent to Hell until Count Donut withdraws. Also he's sick of every single ad talking about the trying times of COVID-19.
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot: The first episode of The Adventure Zone was released as a bonus episode of MBMBaM.
- Production Foreshadowing: The idea for The Adventure Zone came up more than two years before the first episode was created.
- Reference Overdosed: If you're trying to keep track of all the pop culture references the brothers make throughout the series, good luck.
- Running Gag:
- All brothers:
- When one of the brothers is "giving advice", another may interrupt him with "Unless..." prompting the other two to echo "Unless...", before taking a new spin on the topic. Occasionally subverted if the brother talking feels particularly strongly on the topic (in character or not), and they shout "NO! NO UNLESS!" (This one's so central it actually made it into Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda claimed after receiving one of the Tonys he won for the show that he hadn't realized until partway through he'd included multiple "unless..."es in the show in the exact style and cadence of the brothers.
- Frequent Yahoo submitters receive their own nicknames and call-outs, with over a half-dozen regular submitters with unique nicknames ("Level 9000 Yadrew Drewid Drew Davenport", "Keep it Wavey Morgan Davey", "Ridin' High Zoe Kinsky", and the like). They will also receive shout-outs at live shows and have been called up on stage for a little time in the limelight.
- "Jack Disease." (a fictional illness which causes people to age at a rapid rate). Similarly they've mentioned Benjamin Button, for people aging in reverse.
- Near the end of the year, the brothers always come up with a rhyming nickname for the next one, along with a guiding ethos to fit it. Examples include "20-Grift-teen, the con is on," "20-Fix-teen, building bridges", "20-Serpentine, zag on 'em", "Collaborate-teen, stronger together", "Frankenstein-teen, become the monster", and 20-Funny, fill your life with laughter and love”.
- The Brothers' love of horses. (Usually something terrible happens to the horses.)Justin: Mr. Ed? More like Mr. Dead. We got 'em. Peace out horses, I hate you. Obama 2012!
- All three boys suffer from anxiety to some degree, so they're pushing themselves to the brink at live events. Many live shows feature the boys having the house lights up to greet the audience, then quickly requesting the lights go down in a joking panic so they can pretend they're not on stage being watch by thousands of people.
- At live shows, Justin will often get the crowd hyped up by asking them "You horny for this one or what?!" (This first happened after Justin told a story about Griffin, backstage before a show started, opining, "Oh they're horny for this one.") For a long time, Justin would officially "begin" a show by saying a variant of "Like Chilean miners emerging from the depths", but as they have increased the amount of live shows they do, it has become less common (though still present).
- Justin runs the recurring segments.
- Munch Squad is a podcast-within-a-podcast about fast food abominations, which always begins with him starting to sing (usually but not always) to the tune of Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock". Griffin and Travis get in on the bit slightly by always having off-beat and apathetic "squad" yells when they're supposed to chime in. It used to interrupt a question or Yahoo, in the audio equivalent of a Smash Cut, but after Griffin commented on how that's rude, Justin began using it more often during natural lulls in the conversation. However, at live shows, to play to the crowd, he'll sometimes deny having a Munch Squad segment ready, and when Griffin is convinced and starts reading, he'll start in with the drums. And over time, the musical lead-in has become longer and more elaborate, with Justin ad-libbing in bits from other classic rock songs, such as Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song".
- "Haunted Doll Watch" is a segment in which the brothers read and ridicule eBay entries about supposedly haunted dolls.
- "Farm Wisdom" was a segment in which Justin would read tips from farmers. Yes, really.
- "X Watch" is a free-form segment in which Justin declares a "watch" on the release date of a movie. One example (2018) would be Fantastic Beasts 2, a movie that perplexed the brothers by existing.Justin Gather 'round fam. The boy is not in the movie ... how am I going to spend 2 Christian hours and 15 Christian minutes on something Harry Potter related [without Harry Potter]?
- "That's a Christmas to Me", introduced in late November 2018, is a holiday season game where Justin presents to his brothers (and the audience) the titles, starring cast, and descriptions of three Hallmark Christmas movies. One of them is fake (usually written by Justin's wife Sydnee, whom Justin compares to a Mozart of Christmas movie concepts, with himself as Salieri), and Travis and Griffin must guess which.
- "Minion Quotes" is a game where Justin finds pictures of cartoon characters captioned with something lame (i.e. Don't talk to me until I've had my coffee) and the others have to guess which character it's been paired with. The catch is that if they get it right, then Justin posts the picture to his ACTUAL FACEBOOK PAGE for all his family to see.
- "Celebrity Wine? Wine Not!" was a game where Justin would read the name of a celebrity-owned wine and the other boys had to guess who the celebrity was, as well as what score the wine received on a wine review blog.
"Heathcliff plots revenge, now that he has money, against the woman who spurned him—and also, he can't stop pooping." (Wuthering Shites)
- Normally, Travis doesn't read either the submitted questions or the Yahoo questions, and sometimes he'll ask to read one of the bits of copy they receive during the Money Zone, only for Griffin and Justin to tease him about being bad at reading it.
- For a time, Travis would read a depressing take on a Mad Libs he had done, which ended up being dubbed Sad Libs, but the bit does not make an appearance much anymore.
- Whenever he has to think of a bad quality in a person, or an unfortunate event, he will often mention a bad credit score.
- His fascination with riddles.com lead to the creation of the segment Riddle Me Piss, where he reads awful, nonsensical, or just poorly-spelled riddles from the crowdsourced site.
- "Play Along At Home", a completely straightforward, joke-free trivia segment which, like Sad Libs, derives most of its entertainment value from how ridiculously angry it makes Justin and Griffin.
- "Work Of Fart" is Travis's latest bit. The premise is simple: Travis reads the synopsis of a classic work of art (typically a fiction novel), changed to include some element of Toilet Humor. Griffin and Justin then compete to guess the work in question and the Toilet Humor Punny Name Travis gave it that inspired the clue. For example:
- Whenever he's mentioned, Griffin always makes sure to say "Barack Hussein Obama, a lot of people forget the Hussein but it's important" verbatim. He's even done so while doing an impression of Barack Obama.
- Likewise, after appearing on the Forbes "30 under 30 media luminary" list in 2017, he would append it to his introduction. As the year progressed (and Griffin celebrated his 30th birthday) he started slurring and speaking it quickly, and it's no longer an every episode appearance.
- He plays up mock sexual interests in long necks (particularly of swans) and vore, but backed off the latter after it grew to be too associated with him. (His being uncomfortable about the association people have between him and vore is almost a running gag of its own by now.)
- Despite having IBS, Griffin has a love of spicy food, and the brothers have taken to reminding him that he probably shouldn't be eating food that he knows will make him sick.
- Due to its age and dysfunction, Griffin complains about Yahoo Answers being a terrible website fairly regularly.
- In early episodes his lack of a relationship and his frustration and annoyance at being alone was frequently referenced. Where it became a running gag however was when fans would ask questions about being single they would direct the question specifically at Griffin, or even worse, when asking about romantic relationships they would explicitly apologise to or exclude Griffin from answering. This has stopped since he got into a serious relationship and married.
- All brothers:
- Shout-Out: One of the Yahoo Answers questions submitted asked for help naming a Warrior Cats character.
- Show Within a Show: "Munch Squad" is described as a podcast within a podcast.
- Sibling Team: Of course, it's on the title.
- Special Guest: Several episodes feature a "guestspert" who joins the brothers to answer questions about their area of expertise. Past guestsperts include lesbian comedienne (and fellow Maximum Fun family of podcasts member) Cameron Esposito, gay sex columnist Dan Savage of "Savage Love," Broadway's Lin-Manuel Miranda, rock musician Jonathan Roderick (of The Long Winters), Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, comedian Bill Corbett, comedian Jonah Ray, and musician Jimmy Buffett (who Justin is a huge fan of).
- Stating the Simple Solution: Sometimes, the joke is that the brothers will suggest a straightforward (and sometimes ill-advised) solution to a problem. For instance, in Episode 373 (a live show), a woman asks how she can get the truckers she has to deal with at work to stop calling her "baby" and "sweetheart" and the like.Travis: Do you have a gun?
Griffin: No, Jesus, Travis!
Woman: I do not. I do not have a gun.
Justin: No, Travis, don’t be ridiculous. Do you have a taser?
Woman: I don't. I have a big flashlight that’s very heavy—
Travis: Hit 'em.
- The Stinger: Some episodes feature one, usually Griffin continuing reading the final Yahoo question.
- Troubled Fetal Position: When someone asked how to deal with douche bag customers yelling at the retailer, Justin's answer is to go "fetal" and wait until your boss deals with the customer.
- Urban Legend Love Life: Travis insists he's a sexpert, but if there's a degree on his wall, I haven't seen it.
- You Mean "Xmas": Candlenights. The pan-religious, pan-sexual, personal pan winter holiday celebrated annually, usually at the end of the year. (In order to shoot a live Candlenights episode for their TV show, for 2016 it was held in September—and then the episode aired in February of 2017.)