Rhett & Link been producing YouTube comedy for more than a decade. Now they’re less than a month away from expanding the format of their popular talk show “Good Mythical Morning” — with some money from YouTube — to increase the runtime of the weekday program to about 22 minutes.
The expanded “Good Mythical Morning” will debut Nov. 6. The bulk of the show, which has run 10-15 minutes per episode, will still revolve around Rhett and Link bantering on the “GMM” set, engaging in stunts like challenging each other to eat weird stuff. In addition, the show will have segments featuring celebrity and musical guests, field-produced shorts, and sketches.
“YouTube is partnering with us to make a bigger and better show — we’ll be able to throw more at it each day,” said Rhett (above left).
With the additional bells and whistles, the new show will look more like late-night TV. And the duo are aiming to not only expand their fanbase but attract more money and respect from Madison Avenue buyers, who have often pigeonholed Rhett and Link as “digital” entertainers in a different class from “TV” stars. “Good Mythical Morning” and their other channels have a combined 20 million subscribers, and “GMM” is the most-watched talk show produced for YouTube.
“We’d love to be in the same conversation as Ellen, Kimmel, Fallon, you name it,” said Link. “It represents not just an expansion of our brand, to do more within our show to reach a bigger audience… but also to help advertisers see it as a more valuable place to put their messages.”
It’s no secret that people in the entertainment biz have viewed YouTube talent differently — and Link considers the term “YouTuber” a shorthand put-down. He mentions the Duffer Brothers, the creative duo behind “Stranger Things”: “Nobody calls them ‘Netflixers.'”
For YouTube, the bigger “Good Mythical Morning” is part of its slate of brand-safe programming for advertisers, which includes Ellen DeGeneres’ “Show Me More Show” (a digital-only companion series to “The Ellen Show”), the forthcoming singing-competition show “Best.Cover.Ever,” and a comedy reality series from Kevin Hart.
With the YouTube funding, which grants the video service an exclusive distribution window on “Good Mythical Morning” episodes, the team has hired additional writers, researchers, producers, and talent bookers. The show is shot in their studio in Burbank, Calif. “There’s no way we’d have made this transition without some help,” Rhett said. “We’d gotten to the point where this was as far as we could take it.”
YouTube’s originals team has put a lot of trust in Rhett and Link creatively as showrunners, said Link: “They’re encouraging us to expand, be experimental, to do things we haven’t done.”
As much as Link dislikes the “YouTuber” label, he sees a big difference in what’s driving fans to watch “Good Mythical Morning” versus late-night talks shows that pump clips out to YouTube. The fans of “GMM” view Rhett and Link as friends, he said: “A lot of people who come to YouTube to experience what happened on late-night TV the night before. Those shows are all catering to that YouTube audience, to make something that pops. But this is an exercise we’ve been doing for years… With us, it’s about experiencing something as opposed to being ‘in the know.'”
The pair recently published their first book, “The Book of Mythicality: A Field Guide to Curiosity, Creativity & Tomfoolery.” Released Oct. 10, the 20-chapter book is “one part memoir, and one part very light, non-pretentious advice on how to live a mythical life,” Rhett explained.
Originally, according to Rhett, they thought they would do a cookbook, based on their “Will It…?” segments on “Good Mythical Morning,” in which they use a variety of outlandish ingredients to see if they’ll work in a particular dish. (It started with “Will It Taco?” in 2014.) Instead, “we knew we needed to do something much more broad about our world – it’s an explanation for what we are, who we are,” said Rhett.
“By telling the stories to each other and writing them down, we gleaned lessons that we hadn’t fully realized,” said Link, adding, “It’s nice to have produced a physical item, made of atoms.”
Rhett and Link also are in production on season two of scripted comedy “Rhett & Link’s Buddy System” for the YouTube Red subscription service, in which they play fictionalized versions of their “GMM” selves. The first run of the series, which debuted in early 2016, was one of most popular of YouTube Red’s originals, according to research firm Parrot Analytics.
Most of their time, though, will be devoted to the expanded “Good Mythical Morning” show. That will still include bizarre food challenges. But Link doesn’t want that to become what the show is known for: “We’re more excited about the discovery aspect of it, to find out what works. We’re sensitive to being ‘the guys who eat the gross stuff.'”
By the way, Link also revealed that his famous gag reflex — which is triggered if he’s trying to scarf down, say, congealed pork blood or a scorpion — is 100% genuine: “It is real. I didn’t know it would be so entertaining to people on the internet.”