The Streamy Awards

Online video entertainers have fun

If you were caught up in the excitement of Sunday’s Emmy Awards—or overly excited about the Media Matters National Mid-year Music Day Awards in July—you may have blinked and missed the Streamy Awards last weekend.

That’s pretty much the show: two dudes choosing a topic, talking about it, or in the show’s best episodes, experimenting with a topic.

The lesser-known Streamys honor online entertainers, or basically the biggest stars streaming on YouTube. As with any entertainment medium, flash-in-the-pan Internet stars come and go, but then there are proven commodities out there, ones that have made a living by gaining subscribers, accumulating comments, and urging their fans to share links to their latest video via social media.

Rhett and Link are two of those consistent, self-described “Internetainers.” Their weekday show Good Mythical Morning is a perennial Streamy nominee, earning three nominations this year, including a victory in the nonfiction Web show category. The show isn’t fancy, isn’t lewd, and isn’t a huge time commitment. The beauty of YouTube—and there may be only one beauty of YouTube—is that it’s easy to watch on your own schedule. With episodes averaging about 12 minutes, GMM is worth checking out.

Good Mythical Morning starts every day with a brief synopsis of the show and then Rhett or Link saying “Let’s talk about that.” And that’s pretty much the show: two dudes choosing a topic, talking about it, or in the show’s best episodes, experimenting with a topic. Memorable episodes include the hosts removing chest hair with wax treatments, taste-testing pet and baby food, and eating the world’s hottest peppers.

While it is billed as a comedy program, the show isn’t funny because of jokes or hijinks. It’s entertaining because the hosts enjoy what they do and react enthusiastically to their subjects, whether that enthusiasm is good or bad. Link can’t control his hiccups—or his pained, animated facial expressions—after eating a hot pepper; Rhett and Link cry out in pain after each rip of a wax strip against their chest; and they both struggle to swallow down strange creations in their periodic “Will It?” series, which is a highlight of the show. On the “Will It?” episodes, Rhett and Link use nontraditional ingredients in ordinary forms. For example, on “Will It Jello?” the duo put various concoctions in a gelatin mold, like Sriracha sauce or fish eyeballs, before answering if it’s successful (Sriracha was a “yes” to the will-it-Jello question; fish eyes don’t Jello). On “Will It Shoe?” the pair tried to walk in Lego shoes, meat loaf shoes, and shoes made out of books from the Harry Potter series.

Though the experimenting is often bizarre by design (packing peanuts: will they taco?), I never get the feeling that the hosts are going for shock value. Yes, they want to keep the audience interested in what they’ll try next, but this isn’t an episode of Fear Factor. They’re not trying to gross out their audience. If anything, they enjoy grossing out themselves. These are just two guys who clearly enjoy what they do.

Best friends since the first grade, the now 37-year olds come across as two regular guys who went to high school together and want to continue to live those years on repeat. That’s not to say they’re sophomoric or immature; they’re just two curious dudes who like hanging out with each other and seeing what happens when they put pork blood in a taco or deep fry sunglasses. It’s their familiar interaction that grounds the show.

Rhett and Link also write songs, host a podcast, and wrote and directed Looking for Ms. Locklear, a documentary about a search for their first-grade teacher. Their multiple YouTube channels combine to attract over 13 million subscribers, and their video views have inched past the two-billion mark. Guest stars have included Daniel Radcliffe, Amy Schumer, and Bill Hader, all stars who have certainly been down their share of red carpets. Though Rhett and Link might never sniff the Emmy Awards, or anything bigger, they most likely don’t care. If they ever played “Will It Statue?” they’d be happy to answer yes if a Streamy is in question.

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