Chad and JT are entrepreneurs, comedians and activists with a heart. Their YouTube channel has over 153,000 subscribers and has generated in excess of 15.1 million views. They are a modern Cheech and Chong meets Bill and Ted, without all the weed jokes.
They began their careers by showing up at City Council meetings and using the time allotted to public discourse to lobby for humorous initiatives, such as renaming the international space station after Tom Cruise, in honor of his long-rumored film “Luna Park.”
In a recent video, the comedy duo gave out free masks in Huntington Beach, California. It was picked up by national news organizations and has generated over ten million views.
The premise of the video was simple – they approached people who were not wearing a mask and, in their typical disarming fashion, asked them if they wanted a free one. Most people declined, which prompted Chad and JT to ask the obvious question, “Why?” The responses ranged from the benign to one older gentleman who challenged them to a fight. Another person shouted, “It’s not a mask, it’s a muzzle!”
Though lighthearted, it highlights the various reasons people refuse to wear masks, including those who believe the virus is “fake.” It also reinforces that when people are told they must do something, a subset will rebel, even when it’s not in their self interest.
They have creatively used performance art to build a brand in a way that holds lessons for any entrepreneur who is trying to make something from nothing.
I caught up with the comedy team via ZOOM, per the video below, and we discussed their appearances on Ellen, the Howard Stern Show and their upcoming Hulu animated series. The duo also explain their definition of the term “bro” and make it clear that it is not gender based nor exclusionary. The video starts with me chatting with Chad, with JT joining us about halfway through.
I followed up with Chad and JT after our ZOOM conversation and captured more of their thoughts below, with an emphasis on lessons for emerging entrepreneurs.
Greathouse: What up Chad and JT? How did you two connect and what led your collaboration? (Note: Chad and JT’s remarks have been lightly edited for brevity and readability.)
Chad: We met at Benji’s rager, the party was dying down. The girl/guy ratio was awful. Benji’s dad wouldn’t bail. To save the stoke I brought out the four-hose beer bong, “Mount Chugmore” and was going to guzzle it with Kellen, Reece and Landen. But Kellen couldn’t because he was on antibiotics. So, JT stepped in, and once he twisted the nozzle we were bonded forever.
JT: We’re currently entertaining changing the faces on Mount Chugmore. Maybe to the faces of the band Good Charlotte.
Chad: After eight years of college, we realized we both shared an affinity for civic duty, through impassioned city council speeches. We realized this forum had the potential to raise stoke, which is our main mission. And then the internet chose us to spread the word.
Greathouse: If you do change the Mount Chugmore faces, you have to include Paul and Billy and not just the Madden Bros.
You’ve created a legit social media following and a recognizable brand that you’ve turned into a successful podcast and stand-up career. Other than, “create great content,” what advice do you have for emerging entrepreneurs to help them differentiate themselves from the masses online?
JT: First you need to have a business plan, it needs to have pertinent numbers, based information. When you pitch to your primary investor, they need to know they will get a return on their investment. So, when your dad hears the pitch, make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Be very scrupulous on your numbers, because I’m telling you – your dad will see through it if it’s fluff. Don’t be afraid to borrow money from your parents.
Chad: At the moment our business brand is controlled by myself, JT and this kid Jack who hit us up on Insta. But he works for free. The key to growth is speaking your truth, because your truth is inherently original. And that’s what reputable news sources like Barstool Sports want.
JT: The best bands produce album after album after album, some work, some don’t – but if you want to create a great song like Good Charlotte’s “The River,” you have to produce a couple like Good Charlotte’s “Lifestyles of The Rich and the Famous” first. The winners and losers come from the same place; output is the key to finding the former.
Greathouse: Entrepreneurs often have limited time to pitch their ideas to complacent, even hostile audiences, much like City Council meetings. What techniques have you found the most effective in making the most of your First Amendment two-minutes?
Chad: We talk about love. Try to keep it personal, tug at heartstrings – I like to speak about things that are important to me.
JT: I think singing songs helps, everyone knows songs. Like Vince Vaughn says, “Music goes the farthest the fastest”. You gotta figure out what kind of bro you’re talking to, speak in a language that is specific to his/her brodem – for example, if it’s a finance bro, mention Equinox, The Hamptons, Eggs Benedict. Speak in their language so you don’t have to waste time letting them know you’re chill.
Greathouse: Like most clear-thinking folks, I’m a Paul Walker fan. Was your bid to erect a ten-foot Paul Walker statue on the San Clemente pier your first city council meeting? What prompted you to use performance art to further your causes?
Chad: It wasn’t our first meeting, we actually protested against the shutting down of Jammin Salmon Poke Shop when we were at high school. That’s where we first became acquainted with city councils. I told the council how unique their ponzu sauce was and the color wheel of taste you go through when you eat it and I think they got what we were saying.
JT: Maybe it was bittersweet, because Slammin’ Salmon got rid of their togarashi sauce. Though, I don’t know what performance art is. Is that like that Marina Abravomich stuff where she stares at people?
Greathouse: Some people dismiss your efforts, as all they see is the comedy. However, activists have used performance art and humor to draw attention to their causes for decades.
One of your more serious causes is combating activities which contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs. Have your efforts yielded any concrete results for the polyps?
JT: For a lot of people the struggle of the coral is out of sight, out of dome, but now the problem is in our domes we had to anthropomorphize the struggle by bleaching our domes.
Chad: We went on Fox news with bleached domes to talk about the coral, and as a result thousands of supporters have bleached their domes in solidarity. I can’t speak for the coral – but I think it really appreciated it. We also raised some money.
Greathouse: You’ve appeared on Fox News a few times. I’m cool with all media outlets, but I’m curious if your Fox appearances resulted in any hate from your otherwise chill fans. Have you ever turned down an appearance because it was too off-brand?
Chad: Is Fox controversial? No, we don’t turn anything down, we love being on TV. Regardless of the platform, I think that people realize our message is pure, and so it doesn’t matter where it’s heard. We think it’s important to get our voices out – to all facets of culture, because we believe that stoke is universal.
JT: If we only went on TV networks that agree with our politics you’d only see on the X-Games, or Fuse TV.
Greathouse: Both your cameos on Jimmy Tatro’s “Real Bros of Simi Valley” were epic and Jimmy has been on your podcast a couple of times. Talk a bit about the tactics you use to maximize the impact of such collabs.
JT: Keep making stuff that people like, if you’re trying to wrangle big names because they’re famous, other than because they appreciate the work you do on your own, you’re going to worry about the wrong things. The answer is, they have to like you, get them to like you and they’ll come to you.
Chad: No one big name is going to make your brand popular, people don’t just listen to Joe Rogan because of his guests, they like Joe. Having said that, I’ve been trying to collab with Melania Trump for years and she’s not biting.
Greathouse: What social media and viral marketing techniques have you found to be the most effective, so far? Have you tried any stunts or social marketing campaigns that totally flopped?
JT: I don’t think we’ve ever tried to consciously design a viral campaign – we just put our activism out there and listen to what bits our audience responds to the most – then the next time we make something we accentuate that. We’re always surprised by what people pick up on in our videos. Everything that’s ever taken off but has been a total surprise to us. The key is to keep making stuff.
Chad: Like that story about Big Ron the board shaper. He was once asked to shape the perfect board, he obsessed over it for ages. Meanwhile his lesser known younger brother Kevin spent the same time shaping tons of boards, not caring how they came out. Eventually Big Ron threw in the towel, but his little brother ended up creating the perfect board by virtue of failing a bunch of times.
Greathouse: (Do you think there) … is a point where the viral marketing juice you get from attending city council meetings will dry up?
JT: So far things have remained pretty good. I think what’s happening is that more people have become activated, so you’re seeing wilder and wilder stuff at city councils. We never wanted to be the face of activism – we wish everyone in America can go viral in city council meetings.
JT: That said – nothing works forever, my Dad worked in retail and he said you never want more than 30% of your business with more than one company or store. For us, it’s about diversifying our content and trying different things. Like I realized that if I sing a song at the end of my city council speeches, the message lands better.
Chad: Don’t have all your eggs in one bucket. Because if someone pees in your bucket, all your eggs go bad.
Greathouse: What other social issues are going on that you would like to touch on in the future?
Chad: We’re currently trying to get a bill passed that includes Influencers in the COVID impetus bail out – for some reason they’ve been deemed non-essential.
Chad: We’re getting into Asteroid Impact Avoidance. We think NASA needs to design and build giant foam pits to catch the asteroids.
Greathouse: What are your goals for the next couple of years? Do you want to write, act, both?
Chad: I’d like to write about my activism and continue to build my quiver of boards. I’m hoping by 2021, I will have the new Channel Islands neck beard model.
JT: I just wanna chill.
You can follow John on Twitter: @johngreathouse.