We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
If you’re a keen podcast listener, chances are you’ve come across one of the many programs under the McElroy Family umbrella. The mini media empire began in 2010 with My Brother, My Brother, and Me, a comedy “advice” podcast created by brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. MBMBAM was initially a way for the siblings to keep in touch after Griffin and Travis moved away from their hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, where Justin still lives today. It went on to become one of the biggest hits on the Maximum Fun network, spawning new projects like The Adventure Zone, in which the brothers play role-playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons, with their father Clint, and shows co-hosted by each brother and his wife.
In addition to releasing weekly episodes of one program or another, the McElroy Family frequently tours the country performing live renditions of their many podcasts for sold-out crowds. This weekend, Nov. 12 and 13, they return to DAR Constitution Hall for their 20 Rendezvous: Fancy Takes Flight Tour, featuring a two-night engagement headlined by MBMBAM and The Adventure Zone with opening acts from their repertoire of husband-wife programs. Griffin and wife Rachel McElroy will have a very short trip to Constitution Hall, having just relocated to the District from Austin, Texas, in August. When asked about life in the business and their recent move, the pair consistently returned to a common theme, which is also constant in the McElroy podcasts: family.
“Any issues that you can imagine coming up working so closely with your family do pop up time to time because, of course, we’re human beings,” Griffin says. “But any complication that you can think of is so constantly outweighed by the kind of trust that goes into making something with someone you know.”
As Rachel observes, that sense of familiarity is key to the family’s success. “The thing that I find interesting is that nobody in the family is a trained improviser, and they wouldn’t necessarily call what they do improv,” Rachel remarks. “But from an outside perspective, that is it. They are completely coming up, in the moment, with different jokes, different scenarios, different things to talk about—which is something you would do with your family in any circumstance.”
Rachel, who works full time at American University, jumped into the podcasting game after seeing the other couples find success in their own ventures: Justin and his wife, Dr. Sydnee McElroy, with the medical history show Sawbones; Travis and his wife, Teresa McElroy, with the history of etiquette show Shmanners. Rachel and Griffin began with Rose Buddies, a recap show dedicated to The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchises, which morphed into Wonderful!, in which they take turns exploring random topics that delight and surprise them.
When asked about what makes their new city wonderful, the couple highlight a sense of community. “I feel more invested and a part of this neighborhood than I did in any neighborhood in Austin,” says Griffin. “When the population density is that much tighter, the way you interact with people in your neighborhood changes. That’s awesome, not just for us, but for our kids to get out with a bunch of other kids more often.”
The two are grateful for their years in Austin but are enjoying all the cultural amenities D.C. affords their family. “We’re raising city kids now, you know? It feels cool because it’s not anything I ever necessarily envisioned, but it’s nice now that we have it.”
Like many, the McElroys reassessed their geography amid the pandemic. A series of canceled plans, including an entire tour, made them realize how removed they were from the rest of the McElroy clan. Being closer to the family’s homebase of Huntington and the resumption of touring has given them the connection they need.
“This tour is one that I’m really looking forward to because Justin and Travis and their wives are bringing all the kids and that’s something we can’t really do as much anymore,” Griffin says. “That’s the biggest part of it for me. I genuinely, really look forward to seeing my family, spending time with them, seeing our kids play together.”
Despite being a seasoned performer at this point, touring still presents special thrills and challenges. “It is consistently pretty terrifying to do live shows,” says Griffin ruefully. “That level of stage fright definitely still exists and doesn’t really go away. It is unspeakably thrilling to try and conquer that.”
Rachel feels differently. “I actually don’t really get nervous. It’s kind of like you’re going somewhere and someone else is driving.”
“I feel like you’re driving,” Griffin quips. “So I guess none of us is driving!”
The couple has only done a handful of Wonderful! live shows, but they will add a new D.C. edition to the roster this weekend. “Whenever we do Wonderful!, we try and do a city that we have a connection to,” Rachel says. “We get up there and our enthusiasm is real and we’re able to connect with what we’re talking about.”
The My Brother, My Brother, and Me show, with opening acts Wonderful! and Sawbones, begins at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 at DAR Constitution Hall. $40. The Adventure Zone, featuring special guest Brennan Lee Mulligan, starts at 7 p.m. on Nov. 13 at DAR Constitution Hall. $40.