WIUM Tristates Public Radio

David Bro-ie

Mar 12, 2021

Podcasting brothers Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy enjoy musician Jonathan Coulton's rewrites of David Bowie songs to make them about "bro culture." Are cargo shorts for bros anymore, or is Ask Me Another's puzzle editor stuck in the early 2000s?

Heard on Justin, Travis And Griffin McElroy: My Podcast, My Podcast And My Other Podcast

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Our special guests for the rest of today's show are podcasting royalty. The McElroy brothers host the popular comedy advice show "My Brother, My Brother And Me," and they make about a million others, including the medical history show "Sawbones" and the Dungeons and Dragons podcast, "The Adventure Zone." They have a new book called "Everybody Has a Podcast (Except You)." Justin, Travis, Griffin, welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.



JUSTIN MCELROY: Hi. Thanks for having us.

T MCELROY: It's us.

EISENBERG: So, you know, I was just going to try to keep track because you do numerous podcasts, and then you have done other podcasts. How many are actively happening as a family right now - like, all of you with your wives?

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Yeah, do you even know that number?

G MCELROY: Isn't it 11? Is it 11 currently?

T MCELROY: Well, yeah, because we have the - so...

COULTON: Here we go.

T MCELROY: ...OK. "My Brother, My Brother And Me," "Adventure Zone," "Sawbones," "Shmanners," "Wonderful!," "Besties," "Empty Bowl." "'Til Death Do Us Blart" is actively going on.

G MCELROY: "'Til Death Do Us Blart" is important. I think that's it.

T MCELROY: I think that's all that's - no, because then there's "Still Buffering."



T MCELROY: And I think that's nine.

G MCELROY: That's it - nine.

T MCELROY: Nine currently active.


G MCELROY: But it's - what does it say about us that it took us about a minute of arithmetic to reach that number?

J MCELROY: There's a lot of corpses on that road, though. It's a long road with a lot of dead podcasts.

T MCELROY: Throughout history, 24 to 30 - somewhere in there, depending on what you categorize as an actual show. Some shows only made it an episode or two. You know what I mean? Does that count? I don't know.

EISENBERG: It counts. But - so when you're doing this much product with each other and, obviously, you're doing it with your wives. There's different iterations of who is together on these podcasts. And then you're producing them on both ends a lot of time. Are you ever talking to each other when a microphone is not in front of you? Is it sometimes like, this is how we interact now, period?

T MCELROY: The only other time is when our kids FaceTime with each other. And, occasionally, our big faces will, like, lean in and be like, that's true. Or - oh, yeah. Like, there's some of that. I don't know if that counts.

J MCELROY: Yeah. Put down that knife.

G MCELROY: Yeah. And we'll still - like, even when we're talking and our kids are talking and we'll lean in, we will throw it to an ad break. Like, it's just reflexive at that point.


T MCELROY: And to be fair, Casper Mattresses does sponsor dinner at my house. So, like, it makes a lot of sense.



EISENBERG: Do you - is it served on a mattress? Do you guys serve it on a mattress?

T MCELROY: We eat the mattress.


T MCELROY: There's nothing they can't do.

G MCELROY: They say in the ad copy that you can't say it's good to eat the Casper Mattress. But, like, we can say it here that it's good to eat. It tastes...

J MCELROY: You can say it here.

T MCELROY: Yeah, it's a safe place.

G MCELROY: ...It tastes good, it makes you strong and keeps you regular. It has all the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs.

T MCELROY: And it gives you the ability to be rolled up into a really tight roll and stuffed into a box far smaller than you'd expect.

G MCELROY: Oh, God, that's how I want to go. Isn't that the dream? To just be squished in flat in one of those Casper boxes?

T MCELROY: Get to heaven, and Saint Peter cuts you open and you just (vocalizing).


EISENBERG: Well, I want to talk to you about your new podcasting book, but why don't we play a game first?

G MCELROY: Absolutely.

T MCELROY: Yes. Yes. Yes.

J MCELROY: All right.

COULTON: So I don't know if you guys know this, but you are brothers.

T MCELROY: (Laughter) That's the end of that.

EISENBERG: Are you brothers?

COULTON: I just want to confirm that that's true because that is what I have heard.


COULTON: So we're going to play a game called "David Browie," which is where I'm going to perform a David Bowie song but with the lyrics changed to be about something associated with what you might call bro culture. And although the premise of this game is gendered, we acknowledge that anyone of any gender can enjoy these things. But for the purposes of the pun, the game is called David Browie.

T MCELROY: Got it.

COULTON: All you have to do is tell me the thing I'm singing about and the name of the song I'm parodying.


COULTON: Or the name of the song I'm parodying. I don't know.

T MCELROY: Now, most David Bowie songs are about bro culture, so I don't think it's going really that much of a stretch.


COULTON: And you're going to work together, yes?

EISENBERG: Working together, yeah.

COULTON: You are working together on this.

G MCELROY: All right.

COULTON: OK. Here we go. (Playing guitar, singing) This is Ari Gold to Vincent Chase. Come on, let's hug it out. Hindsight says we should have quit while we were ahead. But we ended with a bad movie instead.

J MCELROY: Oh, no. You've - oh, you've terribly upset Travis. You have really...


EISENBERG: Travis was like - you were pumping your arms in the air. Was it because of the song recognition?

T MCELROY: No, this is because it's about "Entourage," a show which, inexplicably, I've seen every episode and the movie of and - let's be clear, every episode multiple times for some reason.


T MCELROY: And the thing is, the movie is not bad, Jonathan Coulton, when you understand one fact about it. That movie is unstuck in time because technically it is set in 2014, right after the events of the show finished, but references things and cars that only existed in 2015 and 2016 when the movie was made.

G MCELROY: You all have made a terrible, terrible mistake.


G MCELROY: That was - that would be - that was "Space Oddity," also.

EISENBERG: Thank you.

COULTON: That was "Space Oddity." That's correct, yeah.

T MCELROY: Oh, right, right, right, the song.

COULTON: Thank you, Griffin, for following the rules and bringing us back to the game. I appreciate it. All right, here's another one. (Playing guitar, singing) Brother, brother, you must drink up. My ball landed in your solo cup. In this frat house, how drunk you'll get every time my balls get wet.

T MCELROY: It's about beer pong, and I'm realizing now that I might be a part of bro culture because...

G MCELROY: Yeah, Travis. You - I just want to circle back. Travis said he inexplicably has watched all of "Entourage" a few times. I would say the explanation is you enjoy "Entourage."


COULTON: It seems like Occam's razor. That's sort of the obvious one. Yeah.

J MCELROY: Can I say "Rebel Rebel" before we go too far...

COULTON: Yeah, yeah. "Rebel Rebel"...

J MCELROY: OK. Thank you.

COULTON: "Rebel Rebel" is correct. Beer pong and "Rebel Rebel."

G MCELROY: Oh, wait. When did the hamburger get here?


COULTON: All right, here's another one. (Playing guitar, singing) Comfort of knowing all my stuff is close by. Wallet and phone are hanging on my thigh. They're not long pants. The hem is higher. No, I'm not fishing. I am at Lowes.

EISENBERG: So gross.

G MCELROY: (Vocalizing).

EISENBERG: There you go.

G MCELROY: (Vocalizing).

J MCELROY: I mean, it's - "Ice Ice Baby" is the song.




G MCELROY: I mean, you were singing about large cargo pants.

T MCELROY: Cargo shorts.


COULTON: Cargo pants. Yeah, cargo shorts. Yeah. Correct.

G MCELROY: I'm going to push back on this.

COULTON: Yeah. Push back, yeah.

G MCELROY: I'm going to die on this hill. Bros aren't wearing cargo pants. They're wearing Chubbies. They're wearing short shorts. They're wearing dockers.

EISENBERG: Griffin, I - you know, I hate to do this to someone on a Zoom, but I think you are wearing cargo shorts right now.

G MCELROY: I'm actually wearing Chubbies right now. But that's besides...


G MCELROY: I live in Texas. It's warm here. It's warm here.

EISENBERG: Got it. Got it.


G MCELROY: Oh, Jesus.

T MCELROY: Justin just laughed so hard his camera fell over.

COULTON: So that was, of course, "Under Pressure."


COULTON: And I knew that you knew that because you said "Ice Ice Baby," which was the song that famously stole the riff. And I think Vanilla Ice got sued for that.

J MCELROY: It's hard to say who stole from who.

T MCELROY: I'm going to push back on that.

COULTON: Oh, here we go.

T MCELROY: "Under Pressure" is (vocalizing). And "Ice Ice Baby" is (vocalizing).

EISENBERG: That was brilliant.

COULTON: All right. This is the last one. (Playing guitar, singing) I say suit up, so let's suit up. And I say wait for it, so wait. Too bad Marshall and Ted don't have my skills in bed. I score a lot. I'm on CBS, and I look like Doogie Howser.


T MCELROY: It's a song about Barney Stinson...


G MCELROY: From the hit show...

T MCELROY: ...From "How I Met Your Mother."

COULTON: That is correct. That is correct.

T MCELROY: Wow, that's good. That really tickled me, Jonathan. Thank you. I really delighted in that.

G MCELROY: It was "Let's Dance."

COULTON: Yeah. That's correct.

EISENBERG: You did great. That's all you need to know because we've covered the songs you know. You knew every pop culture reference that we threw at you - win all round. Thank you, is what I'm trying to say.

G MCELROY: Is there a prize?


G MCELROY: All right.

COULTON: The satisfaction.

T MCELROY: Oh, satisfaction. OK.

EISENBERG: After the break, we'll play more games with the McElroys and talk about their new book, "Everybody Has A Podcast (Except You)" - except me. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.