Have you ever checked out that YouTube website? Crazy, apparently a lot of people have cats that do stupid things when there is a video camera in the room. Luckily there is more on the site than just funny cat videos, in fact there are arguably 3 (maybe even 5) very talented people on it and we want you to get to know one better!
brentalfloss (the all lowercase is intentional) is a comedian and musician from New York City and the dominate force in the ‘What if ______ had lyrics’ genre of music, in fact he is the damn genre.
He has made appearances on G4TV, has a YouTube subscriber base of over 100k, performs at both venues and conventions all over North America, and has agreed to let us pelt him with questions and random objects (but mostly questions.)
Ladies and gentlemen, this is brentalfloss!
OK, starting off with a serious question. Your Mac and Cheese preference. Annie Shells, Kraft or Velveeta?
I appreciate you allowing me to begin by addressing this grave matter:
There’s a little joint in New York City’s East Village called “S’MAC” where you can build your own gourmet Mac & Cheese combo… my favorite is American/Mozzarella/Muenster with chicken, garlic spinach, and slab bacon. Sprinkle some bread crumbs on there and wash it down with a tasty Key Lime Pie soda… frankly, it’s better than anal with a unicorn.
Writing lyrics to video game music seems like an odd thing to dedicate yourself to, where did you get the idea to start? (were you high? if you were, we’re totally cool with that)
Actually, I wasn’t high, surprisingly. I was teaching a kid’s summer course on songwriting and I got Mega Man 3’s title theme stuck in my head—this, by the way, is one of my favorite instrumental themes in any genre. Next thing I knew, I was writing goofy lyrics to it, and I thought “What the hell, why not make a video out of it?” As the birth of an internet mini-meme, it was about as premeditated as tripping on a turd.
Your name, where did it come from, and why isn’t capitalized? Y U NO do all caps or upper and lower case?
I wish I had a great story for this one, but it was just an AOL screen name I had chosen some years before, intended to make me seem like a funny dude. It ended up sticking as an online handle and a nickname. As for the capitalization, I think it was just a matter of the fact that it was all lowercase on Youtube, so I figured that would be a trademark.
And if that answer doesn’t do it for ya, THE SECRET LIZARD PEOPLE MADE ME DO IT.
What is the process like? Do you pick the game first and find the words that work?
It’s totally case by case. In the case of Ducktales With Lyrics, I only had fuzzy memories of playing the game as a child, but once I heard the Moon theme as an adult, I thought “I have to add lyrics to this.” Other times, it’s a game I love and want to pay tribute to (Like Final Fantasy or Civilization), and sometimes it’s just a concept that I find funny. Castlevania II for instance: I never played the game, but when I heard about the fact that it’s based around Belmont’s quest to collect Dracula’s body parts, it was all over. I had to do a song about collecting Dracula’s body parts.
Ego takes you places. Ego intimidates people. Ego exudes attitude. Suffice to say everyone needs some degree of ego to succeed. How big is your ego on a scale of 1-10, and how has it helped your career?
My ego is like a balloon: Easily inflated, easily popped. When I’m in the middle of convention season appearing in a different place every weekend and meeting thousands of people who have seen my videos, my ego’s pretty big. But if I release a video and it doesn’t go over as well as I’d hoped, POP. For me, ego is a cyclical thing. Once a month or so, I tell people “Sorry, I’m on my ego right now.”
Do you actually floss?
Funny you should ask! I am in the process of getting a root canal this month, and I’m definitely flossing more than before… but honestly, there’s absolutely no reason my name should be associated with dental hygiene.
A large part of the games you write the music for seem to be from the 8-bit era, if you could only have one system for the rest of your life (with the full library of course, we’re not cruel) what game system would it be?
Ugh, that’s tough… so many of the franchises I love began on the NES, but I think the center of the venn diagram in my heart would have to be the SNES… I mean Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy II and III (4 and 6), Super Mario World, Zelda: LTP, Street Fighter II, Super Metroid, Super Mario Kart, and Donkey Kong Country? If another console can boast that much thick, syrupy awesomesauce, it hasn’t been released yet as far as I’m concerned.
Your videos are on YouTube, home of the worst most hate filled commenter in all of the internet, what is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you and what would you like to say back to them right now?
Honestly, the things that hurt on Youtube are never the trolly 4-chan comments like “YOU HAVE NEVER MADE ANYTHING GOOD AND YOUR MOTHER SHOULD HAVE STABBED YOU IN HER WOMB” … it’s the innocuous or even well-meaning people who just let an ugly truth slip. I think the worst one—prepare to roll your eyes—was when I released Kirby With Lyrics and somebody wrote “Have you put on a little weight, Floss?” The truth is, yeah, I had been smoking way too much weed (don’t let it become a daily habit, kids!) and the munchies had assisted me in gaining 15 pounds or so… it’s not like anyone was saying “Holy shit, lardass, you’ve gone and pulled a Val Kilmer!” but the non-harsh truth of it is what killed me.
And you want to know what I’d say back to him? My retort to this good-natured soul, this bearer of truth?
Well, in the moment, probably something like “Yeah? Well I bet you’re so obese you don’t know what color your dick is. Go masturbate to a holographic Anime character and gag on your Yaoi paddle, you menstrual fart.“
See, this is why I try to stay out of the fray with Youtube comments.
Out of all the videos you’ve made, is there one that stands out as your favorite? Is there one you regret ever posting?
Honestly, Castlevania II is one of my favorites, and I’m not sure exactly why. I also really like Ducktales and Zelda II. To answer your second question, there are a number I wish I had either changed or never uploaded; many of these are from my first few years of Youtubing and will probably be hidden forever… or until I’m such a badass that we can all laugh about how much of a dumbass I am without making me look less like a badass.
I really enjoyed the Paranormal Activity spoof you posted recently. Are there any plans to parody other movies/TV?
None on the docket, but we’ll see what comes along; the nice thing about the Paranormal Activity movies is that the style is so easy to mimic with a consumer-grade handheld camera… but if I get the urge to parody something that’s just begging for it, I’m sure I’ll find a way.
You have a propensity for humor. Where did it stem from, and do you feel it’s something that can be learned/taught?
Humor is just a tactic that people either develop or they don’t. It can also be a way of looking at the world, and I think a lot of that comes from environment. My family, as a group, is pretty funny. My dad—a maintenance guy from Texas—can do about 100 movie and TV voices, as well as impressions of most of the people he works with. This rubbed off on me, and in junior high and high school, I found myself doing voices like Cartman, Dr. Evil, and Homestar Runner, among others. More than anything though, I think the funniest people are addicted to being funny. I read recently that when you make someone laugh, your system gets a little dose of adrenaline and dopamine (the chemicals released when you smoke a cigarette.) So I can only surmise that people who end up being “really funny” people have some combination of environmental support and an addiction to making people laugh.
But can it be taught? No more than grace can be taught to a naturally clumsy person, or emotional intuition can be taught to an autistic person. Everyone has a sense of humor somewhere inside, but the truly funny people have something that can only be honed and sharpened, not taught from scratch.
Is geek/nerd culture over saturated? Specifically, do we focus too much on finding ways to recycle and remold the same shit, so much so that we bleed it dry?
But there’s money and love in that blood.
Give us 3 brentalfloss fun facts.
For you, FOUR.
1) At the age of 8, I called the Nintendo Helpline for help with Mega Man 4 and argued with the help counselor about the pronunciation of “Pharaoh Man” for about ten minutes.
2) When I was a chubby little child actor, my acting teacher was the guy who played Barney the Dinosaur.
3) I am impervious to the gaseous effects of broccoli; either that, or I’m already so naturally gassy that there doesn’t appear to be a difference.
4) You know how they say no one can eat ten saltines in 60 seconds? Well I did once.
How would you say being ‘internet famous’ has changed you?
It’s helped to validate the fact that I have something to offer. In New York City, everyone is “the most talented person from their hometown,” so your base of artistic abilities starts to feel pretty standard. When I was just starting out with the brentalfloss videos, I was working on a musical that ultimately had an unsuccessful Off-Broadway run. I could have felt like a failure after working for almost three years on a show that basically flopped, but while only a few thousand people saw my show in New York, many millions had seen me goof off and hump things on Youtube… and unless they had all secretly banded together to pull a big trick on me, they apparently liked it! Beyond that, I think it has allowed me to create a persona that lets me blow off a lot of douchebag steam. I’m not perfect, but day-to-day, I’m a pretty nice guy. I hold doors for people, I say please and thank you like a good Texas gentleman. But I’ve always had a sort of Mr. Hyde in me that wants to be loud, arrogant, and the center of attention. The brentalfloss persona allows me to be that in a way that everyone kind of knows is a joke, and then when the concert or convention is over, I can hang up my costume and be a nice, normal person again. It’s a way to let my dark side out of its cage without having to send someone an awkward blanket apology on Facebook the next day.
If you could meet and fight a famous musical figure who would it be?
Oh, it would have to be Elvis. I might lose, but think about it: If you kick Elvis’ ass, you’re the Goddamn Batman. And if you get your ass kicked by Elvis, you’ll automatically win every bar story pissing contest for the rest of your life.
Lastly, whats next for brentalfloss?
Well, I’m knee-deep in the process of putting my second major CD together. It’s taking a while because we really want to top the first CD and avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump” effect that so often happens with second albums. Other than that, we’re gonna start doing more story arcs with “brentalfloss: The Comic” (our twice-a-week webcomic that most of my subscribers are still finding out about.) Other than that, I’m slowly but surely working on another musical that—while it exists entirely outside the realm of internet nerd culture—its development could figure prominently on my channel alongside the “With Lyrics” series and others.