Who’s Better? – Beer and Board Games
Howdy gang. So, this is going to be a longer post. I’ve mainly been treating this site like as a place to organize our videos and present them to you in a different format. But, I don’t have any illusions that this is where our “fans” are coming. However, now I’m glad this site exists because I want to talk about a video that wasn’t ours and I have lots of words that need to come flying out of me and (unfortunately for you) they are flying right at you.
Here’s the deal. I (Shane) worked at an Internet Service Provider in the 90s. This was a pretty rad job and besides learning a lot about computer networking, Linux, etc, I was always kept abreast of the latest in wacky videos (Dancing Baby), crazy websites (Doodie.com) and the best html tags (<blink>). I’m not sure when I first heard about YouTube but I do remember thinking, “Oh man, they can’t possibly have enough storage for all of these people to upload videos, how are they going to pay for hosting fees?!” But, despite my fears, it seemed like this YouTube thing was actually going to catch on. So, like everyone else in the 90s, I was now watching loads of videos on YouTube. But, not once did it occur to me to create videos. Not because I’m not a creative person but because I was pouring literally all of my creative energy into a little band called Volumen. We had achieved a bit of minor celebrity in Missoula and surrounding areas for being a quirky (sometimes heavy) new wave band. The song that everyone wanted to hear was called Miniature Action Jesus. If any song has ever deserved a YouTube video, it would be that song. Had we done that, I’m sure we would be at least as famous as the guys who wrote Noodles on my Back or Weeeee! Although, I can only assume those guys died over heroin overdoses or drowning in piles of money and ladies, so maybe it’s for the best that we never did make that video.
NOTE: Despite not creating any videos, Volumen was lucky enough to get some really great videos on YouTube. That is all thanks to the genius of Andy Smetanka. Here are some of those videos:
FURTHER NOTE: Also quick thanks to Damon Ristau for his own contribution to the our Volumen YouTube videos:
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that from it’s launch until somewhere around 2010-2011, I treated YouTube as a place you ended up when someone shared a funny video with you. Or maybe a place where you hoped to find rad live footage of Ween (and you were rewarded) or Prince (and you were denied). I never made the connection that I could be making videos AND promoting this band that I cared so much about. I still don’t understand why I didn’t get this, but such is life.
Moving on. Now, I was aware that you could subscribe to channels on YouTube but it didn’t really make sense to me. Since most of my favorite videos were music videos (and often not 100% legit) I was finding that returning to old YouTube links would often result in finding that the video had been pulled from YouTube. And, I never found myself returning to the same channel more than once. Why would I subscribe? Well, again, I was wrong. There was lots going on that I wasn’t seeing because I had my “trying to make it with my rock band” blinders on.
Now a weird thing happened, and I ALMOST got it right. In 2003 I started making Ukulele Guy videos. What’s funny is that I was just trying to make some quick content because I was making pretty decent money from eBay and Amazon affiliate programs and it seemed like if I had a “real” site I could be even more successful at it. I was doing it for the wrong reasons, but I immediately started having a BLAST doing it. Still, though, I wasn’t part of the YouTube community. I wasn’t subscribing to other channels, I wasn’t really finding like-minded people. I was just blasting videos into the interwebs and somehow falling ass-backwards into over 250,000 views. I wish I knew how I did that because now I actually care about such things.
So, what happened in 2010/2011? I guess it was Facebook. I posted some status update about a board game or something and an old friend (Sarvas Berry, who incidentally performed as a dancer for Volumen in the late 90s) posted a link to the Beer and Board Games Dark Tower episode. I was BLOWN AWAY. It was one of the funniest unscripted things I had ever seen. So, when the video ended, I did something I had never done before. I clicked on the Subscribe button.
Then I spent hours watching literally every video that the Blame Society guys have ever created, starting with every episode of Beer and Board Games. I think it’s the closest to obsessive fan that I’ve ever come. They made everything seem so fun and effortless that you just KNEW it would be a blast to hang out with these guys. Then I turned into a zealot and I tried to push the show on any one who would listen to me talk. I think I made my brothers (Bryan and Colin) watch the Candyland episode at least 4 times.
Let me quickly explain my brothers to you, because it is important to the story. Bryan and Colin are HUGE parts of my life. We had lived together effectively since birth. I’d move to a new town and they’d quickly follow. We’d get involved in the local music scene by putting on punk shows in our garage or at local dive bars, we played in bands (Bryan was in Volumen and The Squares with me, Colin was in The International Playboys) and we basically lived at shows. All of our friends were in bands, it was all we knew.
So, back to 2012. I’ve been talking about B&BG for a few years and everyone is nodding politely and wishing I would talk about something else. Then Colin gets a job working for the Green brothers at VidCon. I had literally no idea who the Green brothers were. Colin had been friends with Hank for a few years and had talked to me about Hank’s website/video/music projects, but I guess I was a little dismissive. In my brain, he couldn’t really be making music in Missoula because I’d never seen him at Jay’s Upstairs. I’d never seen his band. Again, I had punk rock blinders on and I regret it.
Alright, so Colin has to explain to me (again) who Hank and John are and what exactly VidCon is. Once I get it, I excitedly ask if Matt and Aaron (from Beer and Board Games) are going to be there. THEY ARE! I’m still getting over my excitement for Colin when he states that he’s going to try and make an episode of the show happen at VidCon. And, oh yeah, he’s going to be on the episode. How does he know? Well, he has a copy of the Saved by the Bell game and access to the VidCon cameras and a fancy hotel room. The rest is history.
You know that feeling where you are genuinely excited for someone but you also want to kill them and wear their skin? I’m sure there is a long German word for it. Anyway, that’s what I was feeling.
Long story short. What? Oh, it’s already too long? Tough shit, no one is reading this anyway. I’m surprised I’m still writing it because I have the attention span of a butterfly. In fact, during and after Volumen I’ve thrown my energy into a bunch of random projects: Bauhaus cover band, Cure cover band, Shane Hickey and his Magical Ukulele… and Jerry, Critical Failure, The Paulettes (a Weird Paul cover band) and probably other stuff I’m forgetting. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, Jerry and I thought it would be funny to make a YouTube gaming video. I’d seen guys making these types of videos and the whole concept seemed so absurd that I couldn’t resist. I mean, I loved video games. I was sorta funny. Jerry was… well… Jerry. So, it seemed like a fun idea. So, we played VVVVVV and made a much too long video. Guess what guys? Making gaming videos is wicked FUN.
Suddenly I really cared about YouTube. I cared about views. I cared about the community. I cared about VidCon! Waitaminute?! I KNOW COLIN! Colin can get us into VidCon! Holy shit!
When you start doing the math on a hotel room and a flight to Anaheim, you start to realize that this is going to be a hard sell to your loving wife and family. “Hay gang, Dad needs to spend a bunch of money to go to a YouTube convention. No, you can’t go this time, it’s too expensive. Wait, are you crying?!” At least, that’s how I expected the conversation to go. I started to think that this YouTube Gaming channel was my midlife crisis. I mean, I guess it could have been worse. It wasn’t a $40k sports car. But still, I decided to let it lie. It was too much to ask of my family.
Turns out that Jerry and I have amazing (and very understanding) wives. Our wives surprised us with plane tickets, car rental and hotel rooms for VidCon. We were actually going! A great many things about this trip had me very excited but the biggest one was that I would finally meet Matt and Aaron in person. Colin said, “You can be on the VidCon B&BG episode!”. I said no way, because it didn’t seem like I had earned those stripes. But, secretly, that is what I wanted to happen. I sent Aaron and e-mail telling him that Jerry and I were headed to VidCon and that it would be rad to hang out or something (“don’t come on too strong”, my brain kept telling me). Aaron wrote back a short time later.
They weren’t going to VidCon this year.
What was that weird sound?
I guess that must have just been my heart breaking into a million pieces. Well, Shane, put on your brave face and make the best of it. I let Colin know the B&BG dudes weren’t going to make it this year, but I did my best to make it sound like that wasn’t really a big deal to me. It was guys, it was.
Well, besides being the king of VidCon, Colin has a great big heart. He made those B&BG dudes an offer they couldn’t refuse and 1) They were definitely coming to VidCon! 2) I was definitely going to be on the show!
What were these mixed feelings I was having? Well, you remember when you were a kid and your parents were friends with another couple and they were good friends? The other couple had an annoying kid who you didn’t really want to hang out with, but you had to because of your parents’ friendship with this other couple? No? Well, you remember when that kid down the street (who was also super fucking annoying and probably ate boogers on the regs) got a slot car track for Christmas and you found yourself going over there all the time because slot cars are totally fucking rad? I felt like that annoying kid. Did my rich dad (Colin) just buy my way onto the show? Probably. Was I big enough to decline the offer? NOPE!
So it was with no small amount of trepidation that Jerry and I hopped onto a plane and went to meet some of our heroes (I’m speaking for Jerry here, but he better idolize these guys or he’s out of the band and the show). Good news, guys, VidCon is a fucking blast. Better news, guys, Matt and Aaron (and Greg Benson) are sweet, hilarious people and we got to spend a shitload of time with them. Not only did we get to appear on the show (and it would have been for longer had those meddling Green kids not showed up) but we got to hang out before and after the shoot. It was a fucking hoot. Look how happy we are in this picture!
Huh. Actually, Jerry and I look pretty weird in that picture. But, I assure you that our Grinchy hearts were quite full and we were feeling actual human emotions and not just faking it like we are prone to do. Actually, you know what? You can definitely see it in this picture.
Well, at least you can see it in my eyes and smile. Jerry must have turned his emotions off for this picture. In this picture my mean ole heart is just chock full of love, respect and pride for my little brother Colin. Next year we need Bryan in the mix as well because I definitely missed him and I can only imagine at how hilarious he’s going to be (*cough* All Hickey B&BG? *cough*)
Wow, this post just kept on fucking going didn’t it? All I really wanted to do was show you guys this VidCon B&BG episode that we crashed but my stupid human emotions got in the way. I wish I could summarize this whole thing with an uplifting message or tie it all up with a common thread or something. I’m still making sense of this stage of my life. And, while I do often feel like a teenager masquerading as a grown man (or maybe the other way around), I haven’t felt more creative and creative and joyful (and slightly crazy) in all of my life. So, I guess go chase that thing that makes you happy guys. Life is fucking hard. Don’t make it harder. Run after fun and make things (even if the thing you are making is stupid gaming video and you aren’t very good at it).
Nerd out guys,