Interview: Dude Perfect’s Tyler Toney

Posted on May 15, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Dude Perfect is the second largest sports channel on YouTube, with over 4.5 million subscribers and more than 556 million views.  (2021 update: over 56 million subscribers!)

They are a group of five best friends (plus a panda) from Texas who love sports, comedy and living a positive and faith-based life. Their channel is best known for their trick shots, “stereotypes” parodies, and athletes + Dude Perfect videos.  They are committed to living and sharing their faith, and their charitable work includes Nothing but Nets, Compassion International, and Herobox.

“We basically started six years ago kind of on accident,” Dude Tyler Toney told me in a phone interview.  They were all living together and enjoyed hanging out and playing games. “We weren’t really planning on making a viral video or even making a business model out of our first video. We were in the backyard in college and we just started shooting these basketball shots. It was an all grass backyard so we didn’t couldn’t really play actual games or anything. So we decided to get the video camera out and everybody wanted to top each others shots. Pretty soon we had a video and Good morning America called two days later and wanted to air it on TV.”

They have performed some wild trick shots and stunts. “I would say the hardest was one probably the first sling shot that we did. We basically went out in my families’ ranch and we had cut down this tree and basically made like a duct tape pouch and this thing would launch the basketball like 100 yards. So with the wind in the way that the ball was released out of the pouch it was pretty hard shot. So when that one finally went in we were pretty excited about that.  We started filming about 2 o’clock and filmed till dark and then got up the next morning and probably made it around lunch time so that’s was probably the longest it had taken us to make a shot.”

The Dudes are very excited about all of the athlete and performing artist guest stars who have appeared in their videos. “I continue to keep being blown away at how awesome so many of these athletes and celebrities are and how great the personalities they have are.  I mean Russell Wilson and Tim McGraw those guys were both actually incredible. Coach Carroll was awesome to work with. We got to do that thing with Odell Beckham Jr. for the Superbowl this year which was absolutely incredible. You’re just constantly reminded of how talented and how incredible these guys are when you get to see them in person. I always think the most recent one was actually the most impressive.”

“We’re really looking forward to filming with Steph Curry.  We are are supposed to film with him by the end of this year. We’ve been interacting with Lebron several times.  We’d love to film a full video with him at some point.  What’s crazy is we have gotten to the point where a lot of these athletes are reaching out to us wanting to film a video because it’s just fun for them and lets their fans and their sports audience see a different side of them that you never get to see.  We did the one with the Dallas Stars.  A lot of people they had never seen Jamie and Tyler with the helmets off so nobody really knew what their personalities were like. So it’s cool to be in a position where these athletes can reach out to us to film a video.”

The Dude Perfect crew works with the guests to come up with ideas.   “They will basically reach out and say, ‘Hey we’re interested in filming the video; what do you guys think?’ And then we kind of put the main idea of the video together and then when we’re out there they always try a couple of things — ‘I think I could probably do this shot.’  It is kind of collaborative but it works out really well.”

They have developed an even greater appreciation for the skill, professionalism, and work ethic of the athletes they have met.  “I remember specifically when we were filming with Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback with the Dolphins, we went down there to Dick’s Sporting Goods in Florida and we basically were there all that night filming.  We were supposed to be there for a few hours and we ended up staying there longer than that but he was so accurate in making these shots that it didn’t take him long at all. I think he ended up making over 10 shots in the video just because it was so easy for him to make all these different shots that we were throwing at him, so it was really cool to film that version.”

I especially enjoyed the humor of the “Stereotypes” series of parodies of obnoxious behavior.  It was clear that the Dudes are strategic as well as fun-loving.

“It was really big for us because we knew we wanted to diversify our content.  First we were the basketball trick shot guys. And then it was guys that do the trick shots in general whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or whatever. Then it was a guys who worked with athletes, celebrities and friends to film these videos.  Stereotypes was the first video series, it was kind of branching out. It was totally different than the trick shots and is actually more popular than trick shot videos I think for a couple reasons.  It reaches an audience that is so much.  The basketball stereotypes produced around 20 million views. We knew that we had to continue to do more of those videos and so that has been a theme for us moving forward.  We’ll probably be adding two new video series to our line-up throughout the rest of this year.  The stereotypes has been a huge part of our success and really kind of paved the way for how we are going to make content going forward.”

At the core of what they do is their faith.  “We are all very fortunate to grow up in Christian homes and some really good families that while we were young made sure we were in church every Sunday and then once we got a little bit older encouraged us to really make that relationship with Jesus ours.  We just feel like God has given us this platform not just to make money, not just to be famous and take a lot of pictures with people but to really influence a lot of people. And so it’s been really cool the conversations that we get to have with people who want to talk about our faith. It’s been pretty neat because for the most part it’s been really accepting I think the way we go about it helps too. I know Christians for the most part kind of get a bad rap but our main goal is just to love people in the way that God loves us and treat people the way that we want to be treated.  It’s been really cool to see the response that we have gotten from that.”

You can follow Dude Perfect on Instagram,  Twitter, and Facebook.

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Other Space — New Comedy Series on Yahoo from Paul Feig

Posted on April 14, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “Freaks and Geeks”) has a new comedy sci-fi series called “Other Space” premiering today on Yahoo.

There is a fascinating article by Stephan Rodrick in the New Yorker about one of the people who played a key role in shaping the series, casting director Allison Jones. It explains that even a few years ago, quirky characters were still played by standard-issue pretty actors. But Jones, working with Feig, Judd Apatow, and others, has pioneered the casting of actors who look like real — or realistically offbeat — people. Here is her comment about working on the all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters.”

“It’s nice to get a break from the testosterone every once in a while,” she said. “I was thrilled to do ‘Bridesmaids’—it was a true ensemble of odd characters, all of whom I had observed in real life. There wasn’t one scene that called for a push-up bra. Most female descriptions in screenplays and TV scripts—and I am not kidding—are basically ‘astonishingly beautiful, even without makeup,’ and ‘brilliant.’ Never just beautiful, always astonishingly so.”

The article describes the casting process for “Open Space,” as Jones reads the same lines over and over with actors, sometimes asking them to come back to read for another part in the series.
And it describes the influence she has had on shows like “The Office,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Veep,” and many other productions, as well as the influence she has had on the careers of stars like Jonah Hill. It is intriguing to think about the influence those casting choices have had in reflecting back to audiences a wider range of faces and bodies.

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Chipotle Blurs the Lines Between Content and Advertising/Branding

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

A new series on Hulu blurs the lines between content and advertising in a way we haven’t seen since George Burns and Gracie Allen started talking about Carnation Evaporated Milk in the middle of their sitcom.

“Farmed and Dangerous” is a new series that takes on agribusiness.  According to the Vocus blog, it is an “hilarious look at the agricultural food industry and an evil processed food company that attempts to fool the public about its client’s dangerous/unhealthy animal feed products.  And oh yeah, Chipotle’s name is almost nowhere to be found within the show.”  They call it “un-branding.”

Is this more effective than a commercial for Chipotle?  Is it more insidious?  Is it both?


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Interviews: “Bitter Party of Five”

Posted on February 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm

bitter-party-of-fiveWhen “Downwardly Mobile,” a Roseanne Barr TV pilot for NBC, didn’t get picked up, the cast created their own show, “Bitter Party of Five,” a very funny (and very adults-only) interview series where five moderately successful actors interview their much more successful friends.  And they’re not happy about it.  The “face looks familiar but I don’t know if I saw them on television or at my kids’ school on parent night” cast is, Jason Antoon (“Minority Report”), Mary Birdsong (“The Descendants”), Greg Cromer (the upcoming Jason Bateman film “Bad Words”), Tricia O’Kelley “(“Secret Life of an American Teenager”), and Romy Rosemont (“Glee”) got together and began their own series “Bitter, Party of Five.”  They sit around a table drinking some pretty potent cocktails and play exaggerated versions of themselves, actors who work pretty steadily and are always trying to get bigger and better parts.  And they have enticed a remarkable assortment of very funny stars to join them, including Alfred Molina, Rachael Harris, Stephen Root, Chris Colfer, Allison Janney, Martha Plimpton, Wayne Knight, Missy Pyle, Martin Short, and Tony Hale, all of whom they pelt with the most outrageous questions.  It was a lot of fun to turn the tables and get them to answer mine.

Who came up with the idea for the web series?

Birdsong: In a sense, NBC did, but unknowingly.  We all met doing a tv pilot for them that starred Roseanne Barr and John Goodman.  And by not picking up that pilot, they left us no choice.  So… thanks NBC.

Cromer: I came up with the idea for the series. They all balked…I pressed…they acquiesced. I win, they lose.

Rosemont: It was a group effort for sure…the germ of the idea was one of our producers Adam Rosenblatt.

Antoon: It was already there before we even met on the set of the failed Roseanne Barr pilot. The idea was waiting for the five of us to be bitter.

O’Kelley: Let’s just say me.

What do you tell your guests to get them to agree to be on the show? 

Birdsong: We tell them that if they DON’T come on the show as a guest, Tricia will cook for them.

Cromer: We don’t tell the guests anything.  We do ask them to watch the show first so that they know what they’re getting themselves into. All they need to do is show up and be ready to roll with whatever goes down.

Rosemont: There will be booze and it will be quick!

Antoon: I say “listen if there is one reason I have been your friend this whole time this favor would be it.”

O’Kelley:  Free booze, and the cast member of your choice will make out with you.

What did it feel like to hold Martha Plimpton’s Emmy?

Birdsong: It felt a lot like chicken.

Cromer: Martha Plimpton’s emmy was cold….and wet…for some reason.

Rosemont: It felt like it had finally found a home….in my hands.

Antoon: It felt important and heavy unlike when I held all my little league trophies as a kid.

O’Kelley: Thrilling. The best 30 seconds of my life.

What are you guys all drinking?

Birdsong: I like to go with a milk-tini® , which is one part skim milk served in a martini glass (no vermouth) and garnished with a chocolate chip cookie.

Cromer: I generally enjoy a nice glass of scotch. Mary guzzles milk-tinis like water. Romy fires down gluten-free water. Triv delights in a nice chardonnay and Jason drinks angry juice.

Rosemont: Anything and everything that gives us a personality.

Antoon: I’m drinking Absinthe in a plastic cup.

O’Kelley: I’m drinking Chardonnay, Greg’s got some scotch, Romy & Jason are enjoying Coke Zero, and Mary’s drinking milk & cookies.

Are you following Alfred Molina’s advice?  Or Allison Janney’s ?

Birdsong: Definitely Fred’s (Unless Allison is reading this.)

Cromer: I follow both, Alfred’s and Janney’s advice. I’ll let you do the math on that one.

Rosemont: Did they give us advice?

Antoon: Neither. Advice from other actors means nothing. Take it from me, don’t listen to other actors.

O’Kelley:  Luckily Allison’s advice actually helps me take Alfred’s advice. So yes. And yes.

Which guest surprised you the most?

Birdsong: Laura Benanti — she rocked it.  Hard.  I’m now her biggest fan.  And by biggest I mean I probably weigh about 220 now.

Cromer: How can I NOT say that Janney surprised me the most? She swallowed my trachea.

Rosemont: All of them….We were just surprised they showed up.

O’Kelley: Laura Benanti. She was so quick and so funny, I thought she should replace me at the round table permanently.

Come on, you can tell me, who was your favorite guest?

Birdsong: Guests?  Listen up.  Mama loves you ALLLLLLLTHE SAME. That said, I did take my top off for Martha Plimpton.  So… ya know.  Do the math.

Cromer: How can I NOT say that my favorite guest was Janney? She swallowed my trachea.

Rosemont: Mary Birdsong… Love her…No wait….Greg Cromer…Couldn’t be funnier….No that’s not right…Tricia O’kelley….She’s pretty…What?…Jason Antoon…He’s down right creepy…Yes, him.

Antoon: My fav would be Laura Benanti because I’m her spirit animal and she’s secretly in love with me.  Not!

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