The guys of Epic Rap Battles are pretty much “the get” of YouTube interviews — everybody knows them, everybody respects them and they are insanely busy. You wouldn’t think so based on the short seasons of ERB, but each video requires a huge process of writing, planning, shooting and editing. And, as it turns out, ERB is just one aspect of the duo’s lives. We’ve interviewed NicePeter a time or two, but had never spoken to EpicLloyd, so you can imagine the delight when NMR found out he was shooting a live comedy show at YouTube Space LA. The mission of the show was to globally interact with and include the YouTube Spaces in London and Tokyo and create a multinational improv comedy experience.
It turns out comedy is one of those international languages — good thing because we were worried the Germans just weren’t vibing on us at all. Check out our interview with Lloyd below and then tune in to check out his live comedy footage from the YouTube Space … also below.
So tell us a little bit about this. You’re doing a globally active comedy show?
Lloyd: Yeah, it’s called “Off The Top,” and we have improvisers in YouTube Space LA, YouTube Space London and YouTube Space Tokyo. And we’re using the technology of 2014 to let them work together and take suggestions from all over the world via Twitter or Facebook or YouTube comments, and use those suggestions as inspiration for comedy scenes, freestyle rap songs and all sorts of stuff.
Sounds like a cool idea. How well does stand-up comedy like that translate internationally?
Well, people from all over the world are casting improvisers from groups that are located in Tokyo, located in London, so people love it everywhere. So I think it translates really well.
Where did the idea for this international show come from?
YouTube put out a request for pitches for something called the Creator Innovator Program, and they were wanting YouTubers to pitch them show ideas that fulfilled a couple different criteria. One, that it was a live show, so they could do live stream. Two, that it used the YouTube Space in an interactive way. Third, that it was innovative, so it used YouTube and the technology around YouTube in an innovative way that hadn’t been done before. So it came through my management team saying they’re going to fund this show and they think the improv show you do would be great. So I pitched them the idea, and they loved it. So that’s how it came to be.
You’ve got a few creators working along with you on this one, I understand.
I have some special guests coming in, yeah. Timothy DeLaGhetto’s going to make an appearance, Zach Sherwin’s going to be on the show, Chester See will be there, and Jessi Smiles, those are the special guests that we have coming in. I haven’t been writing the show with them; they’re just coming in as the celebrity guests.
Now you had to switch the date sort of last minute, I understand. What kind of happened there, and did you lose anybody in the process?
We didn’t lose anybody in the process; it was a YouTube Space thing. We had to push the date back, by like a week, which in hindsight, I’m pretty happy about. Pete and I were a part of the Beacon program, which is another YouTube initiative that was brought on that’s really pushing its stars out to the world, like on an advertising level. So there was a major push for that going on in the middle of July, which was kind of when we were scheduled to do our shoot. So they didn’t want those two things to overlap. So they just pushed us back by a week.
Okay, so is Nice Peter involved in this one at all?
He’s not; he’s only here in spirit. We used to tour together all the time, so I love improvising with him, but he’s on the road over in Europe right now. So he’s probably going to tune in, but that’s kind of all he’s able to do.
What do you think the future of YouTube is going to be with doing this interactive stuff?
For me, it’s going to be big. I think I’m going to try to do this a lot. I own this comedy club in Santa Monica, and part of the idea for this show is to bolster that YouTube channel to 10,000 subscribers, so then we can shoot it in YouTube Space. The big part of what we want to do there is also set up live stream shows on a regular basis from the comedy club, called Westside Comedy theatre by the way. This kind of show really will kind of break the ice on doing that a lot. We can just set up cameras and live stream, and the backend of YouTube now is actually pretty cool in terms of like, they have even free software in the backend of YouTube where it’s like a live streaming application, so you can have multiple cameras and cut from one to the other without needing tons of gear, which is insane. So I think it’s going to be a big deal.
Do you feel like “Epic Rap Battles” is going to go on for years and years and years? Or are you going to ebb more into this kind of freelance thing?
I’m always going to do “Epic Rap Battles.” Those are sort of a lock in my life and my career for the foreseeable future. I’m not the kind of person that takes three months off and just sort of chills. And this was an opportunity that kind of came around. I didn’t set out to do this, like, “Hey, I’m going to do this thing and push it through.” The opportunity for the Creator Innovator program came through, and it was like, “I’ve got to take advantage of this.” And the timing worked out, so this is what I’m doing now. I’ll always improvise. Improv is where I grew up, it’s how I started doing things, it’s the clubs the clique that I’m involved in, so I’ll always do that. So I imagine my whole career, too much like Amy Poehler or Tina Fey or Matt Besser or Jude Roberts, or any of these guys that are doing movies or films or YouTube or whatever, but they stay with the improv their whole careers.
Final question: What’s been that moment you’ve looked back on as your favorite moment out of everything you’ve done?
Whoa, that’s a tough one. You know what I love? It’s kind of an odd thing. The Pete tomfoolery right now in his show — he does the rap battles in his live show — but what he does is he brings kids up on stage from the crowd. He brings them up on stage, and they know all the words to these songs, so he just gives them a mic and he plays one part and they play the other part. And these kids just rip the mic as these characters we’ve created and they sing these lyrics that we’ve written. The other day I was flying home from Montreal, and I just found myself watching these videos, because kids will videotape it from the audience or whatever, and it just makes me smile so much. It’s like seeing these kids love it — you know, some of them are adults, I just say “kids.” They’re people. I think seeing that is definitely one of my favorite things ever. It makes me very proud. Like, wow, I wrote something that someone enjoys so much that they took the time to memorize it and then get up on stage and do it in front of a bunch of people — that’s probably scary for them. So I think those are my favorite moments.