Mental Floss & John Green Introduce Brand New YouTube Channel [INTERVIEW]


Did you know that there is actually a word that rhymes with orange? It’s sporange, a botany term meaning “spore case.” Ever wonder what the “Crayola” in Crayola crayons means? Or which Admiral wrote “O.M.G” in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917?

Well, Mental Floss has some good news for you. Starting March 13, the trivia-touting, factoid-fueled magazine is launching a brand new YouTube channel hosted by none other than author and vlog brother John Green.

The Mental Floss channel will deliver weekly videos chock-full of snackable and sensational bits of trivia and quiz videos from vlogger and John’s brother Hank Green.

We caught up with John, who answered our questions in record time, to talk about the Mental Floss YouTube channel and who would win in trivia combat: him or celebrity smart guy Alton Brown?

Mental Floss released a preview video two week ago, and already the channel has almost 30,000 subscribers. Why are people so excited about this YouTube channel?

I think people like to learn, and they particularly like to learn about the fun and quirky stuff that Mental Floss has been sharing with the world for more than a decade. I also think the story of Mental Floss is a story that many of us in the online world can identify with. The magazine was started by friends as college students, and their DIY ethos probably resonates with the YouTube community.

You began your career writing for Mental Floss, and now you are co-hosting it with your brother. What’s it like working at Mental Floss again after all these years?

It’s pretty special to be able to make stuff with them again. They gave me my first break in writing many years ago (and also gave Hank his first publishing byline!), and we’ve both always loved the magazine and their web site. Now we get to bring that awesome to YouTube. I think my 23-year-old self would be really proud of this.

Why has Mental Floss decided to launch a YouTube channel now in 2013?

Well I think in a perfect world they would’ve loved to launch it in the past, but it’s intimidating for any small and successful company to think about moving into YouTube because it’s very different from the world of magazines and books, and even from the traditional online world. So I think they needed to find the right partners, and hopefully we’re it!



Who would win in a battle of wits: you or Alton Brown?

It depends on the topic, of course. Alton Brown would certainly have me in chemistry and cooking related stuff, but I think I’d school him on 19th century female poets, for instance. But overall I’m gonna have to go with Alton. I’m actually not that smart, sadly. I just read a lot.

What’s the strangest piece of trivia you’ve learned so far from working on the Mental Floss YouTube channel?

Oh that’s a hard choice indeed. I’m not sure I can pick just one fact. But as you’ll find out in a few weeks, a LOT of famous people of the 20th century were married to their first cousins.

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