Twenty five-member-strong comedy troupe Reckless Tortuga, without fail, are always first and foremost asked some approximation of “What the heck does ‘Reckless Tortuga’ mean?” I know this, because I did a mini-interview with them back when they were working on “Sketch Royale,” and that was my first question then. So this time around, I decided to change it up and maybe set the tone for the interview. After all, I wanted to keep things light and breezy; many comedians I interview tend to take these interviews — and comedy — seriously.
Reckless, who might just be the premiere sketch comedy group working in the sphere of YouTube, is responsible for roughly 300 videos of situational mayhem and hilarity. Honestly, I haven’t yet run across their equals when it comes to a proliferation of varying series or a sheer scope of comedic characters that have been puffed into life for our merriment. The Reckless Tortuga crew, who has been adding members organically since the founders were in high school together, joined YouTube three years ago and have essentially shot to the top of the online comedy heap. But it wasn’t without a lot of hard work, creativity and professionalism. In fact, they are so put together and thoughtful in their answers that we ended up with one of the longest interviews in the history of the medium. But that is okay, because it is all interesting stuff.
Sitting down with the core three of the group (a 25-person interview seems a bit beyond my capabilities) Lindsey Reckis, Eric Pumphrey and Jason Schnell, the early founders, I got to talk with them about various topics ranging from their new show to the Ku Klux Klan and who might be the Yoko Ono of their group. I think you might be surprised who it is (hint: it’s totally Lindsey, and she doesn’t even realize it). But seriously, I had a hell of a time interviewing them, and you should have a hell of a time with their recently debuted new Machinima series, “The Clan.”
Let’s start with the first question; I’m sure it’s the question you guys have been asked every time you’ve ever done an interview, and you guys are always having to field it, but have any of you ever been in a gang bang?
Lindsey Reckis: I have not technically.
Eric Pumphrey: Unofficially you have.
Lindsey: I don’t know when they say gang, necessarily, much about the numbers.
Eric: How many people are in a gang?
Jason Schnell: Well, there is a whole initiation process on Reckless Tortuga, so, you know, everybody kind of has been … no, none of us.
How did you guys all meet?
Eric: Lindsey and I actually went to school together.
Lindsey: We were in high school together.
Eric: And Jason and I met through another friend of ours, and I kind of like brought us together.
Lindsey: He was like Cupid, brought Jason and I together.
Eric: Brought these lovers together.
Lindsey: We started dating and decided to make sweet movies together.
Eric: And now they’re married and have a baby.
Jason: And now we’re married and have a baby and it’s all his fault.
Eric: And they didn’t name it Eric.
Jason: We didn’t name it Eric.
Where is the love, right?
Jason: We did give him an E name. His name is Elliot; close enough. You’re both Es.
How very “E.T.” of you guys. Lindsey came up with the name “Reckless Tortuga” right?
Eric: It was like a “these two” type deal.
Jason: It was a back and forth, but I really think Lindsey kind of drove the name.
Lindsey: Well yeah, I mean it wasn’t like, “Oh my god, it had to be Reckless Tortuga — I love that!” It was more we were trying to find a name for our company [points at Jason], just the two of us at the time, and everything was taken, so we were Googling all these different combinations, and this one wasn’t taken, and we were kind of like, “Whatever, just take it!” We didn’t know it was going to become what it is today.
Eric: And then when we started the channel, they were like, “Cool, let’s just call it that.”
Lindsey: Call it that. Who cares!
Eric: Placeholder, but then we’re like, whenever we thought of what to change it to, it’s like, “Uuh, that’s very specific.,Iit’s good”. Wouldn’t have put a foreign language in our name today but we liked that. It was better than anything else we could think of; we tried to think of other things afterwards but this kind of stuck.
Jason: There was one brief period of time where we were considering changing our name and it literally was like …
Eric: That was the window.
Jason: If we’re going to do it, we should have done it then, and we didn’t do it. We are like, “All our friends know what it is. It will be fine.”
Eric: But the second that video blew up it was like, “And that’s our name.”
Well, I guess what I’m asking when I ask about that and Lindsey coming up with the name … Lindsey’s last name is Reckis, right? So “Reckless,” “Reckis” — were you trying to Shanghai the group?
Lindsey: Eventually I want to have my solo project and I just wanted to wait to… [Eric and Jason laugh] no, but it is my Twitter and my Xbox gamer tag is “Reckless,” so it did come from that, and then “tortuga” is a word that I did love, so they were both.
Eric: So “Reckless Tortuga” is Lindsey basically.
Jason: It’s all her.
Eric: She mind fucked us into that.
LIndsey: It’s whatever, guys; you will like this.
Now “tortuga” obviously is Spanish for “turtle.” Do you guys actually speak Spanish — any of you?
All: [in unison] No.
Jason: Not at all.
Lindsey: What it came from was for some random reason I knew how to say “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in Spanish, and we thought it was funny.
Jason: Las Tortugas Ninja Mutantes Adolescentes.
Lindsey: And we just thought “tortuga” was a funny word.
Jason: And like I grew up with the Ninja Turtles, love the NInja Turtles. I love that cartoon so much, so I think there were elements of it that we all kind of loved, and the name is just so specific that it’s like you’re either going to mispronounce it, but at least you know what it is. We’re not like anybody else in that sense.
Who were your guys’ favorite Ninja Turtles?
Jason: I’m going to go with Michelangelo off the bat for me.
Eric: I’d definitely say Michelangelo. Definitely not Donatello.
Jason: Leonardo was a bit of a douche. He was always just kind of like, he was the leader, he was the one without personality, I think. He was just the leader; that’s all you know about Leonardo.
Eric: I think most people like Michelangelo.
Jason: Michelangelo was awesome!
Lindsey: Did you know that Val Kilmer was in. Was it Val Kilmer? Somebody random has a bit part in that movie, in one of the Ninja Turtle movies.
Jason: Wasn’t Corey Feldman the voice of Michelangelo?
Eric: Oh that makes sense.
Jason: [laughs] That makes sense.
Lindsey: That’s funny.
Jason: Yeah, Ninja Turtles.