CRUSHING IT: An Interview with Sketch Duo Greg & Lou

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Greg Burke and Lou Perez have been making comedy videos on Youtube for the best part of the last decade. They’ve even worked with Funny Or Die and racked up millions of views with big hits like Wolverine’s Claws Suck. Their sketches are often dark takes on pop-culture and the film industry, usually through the guise of the gonzo and mundane, with thick NOO YEWK accents.

Watching through their videos really shows the power of a creative partnership and a working dynamic, and the strength of that against no budget. We’re massive fans of Greg and Lou here at FinalBoss and are so happy we could have them. SNIKT!

FB: How did you two meet?

Lou: We met at NYU (New York University). Greg was a founding member of the Wicked Wicked Hammerkatz. I believe I joined a semester later. 

Greg: Lou was the only other person in Hammerkatz who talked about weight lifting and Sylvester Stallone, so we really had no other choice but to go off into a corner and become friends.

Greg and lou profile shot
Lou on the left, Greg on the right. Just imagine this picture is inverted or something.

FB: How did you come up with that name, Greg & Lou? Was it intentionally supposed to be as straightforward as possible?

Lou: I don’t know how intentional it was. I don’t think we had anything better. Although, our full name, Greg and Lou Present Lou and Greg, was intentional and unnecessary. 

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At NYU I was in an improv troupe called Dangerbox. I think that’s a great name. I wish we had had the opportunity to use that name.

Greg: There’s a very long, basic history of comedy duos just using their actual names as their team name. We tried to put a twist on that with “Greg and Lou Present Lou and Greg,” but I think we dropped it after a year. In my head, though, that’s still our name. 

Lou was the only other person who talked about weight lifting and Sylvester Stallone, so we had no other choice but to go off into a corner and become friends.

FB: What does New York City mean to you?

Greg: Being alone but never feeling lonely. Being wide awake at 2am, wanting desperately to go somewhere loud and do something exciting and being able to immediately satisfy that urge. Shitheads and assholes. Home.

Lou: I lived in Los Angeles for around four years. Did comedy when I was out there. I started listening to a podcast called Race Wars with Sherrod Small and Kurt Metzger. The podcast records in New York City and features New York comics. I thought, “Man, I remember having conversations like this, before I moved to L.A.” 

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NY is also where my family is and where I grew up. You hear a lot of people talk about the two cities as if you have to pick a side. I had good times in L.A. and liked elements of it, but it’s not my home, geographically or spiritually.

greg and lou reservoir dogs parody
Greg and Lou do Tarantino

FB: You both write and act, how does the process work? How do you decide what lines make it, who acts what role, etc..? How does a comedy skit differentiate from, say, making a short film?

Lou: It’ll often start with an idea and then bullshitting upon that idea. We don’t throw ideas away so easily. No matter how out-there it may be, we give it its due. We write and revise a lot. Very rarely do we get something right on the first draft. And when it comes to characters I’m often the crazy guy making jokes about shit.

Greg: There is a lot of overlap between sketches and short films. But in general sketches are a moment and short films are a story.

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We both immediately look for the humour in everything. And we both tend to end in a dark place. That’s the beginning and the end of it. We tend to go about the in-between in different ways, which has always been exciting for me. Lou is a really weird guy. Whereas I am a beacon of all that is good and just. The different perspectives keep it interesting.

when it comes to characters I’m often the crazy guy making jokes about shit.

FB: All of your sketches are very cinematic, even if it’s just riffing on certain flicks. How do you achieve that?

Lou: Greg’s eye. Greg directs. 

Greg: We both love making comedy that’s grounded and feels real, regardless of how ridiculous the situation is. And I think the most direct way to visually achieve that is to make it look like a movie. If it looks cinematic, the audience can get lost in what they’re watching and if that happens, then we can surprise them. Sometimes we can’t reach that look because of budget or scope and sometimes being cinematic doesn’t actually serve the sketch, so we’ll scale back from that, depending on the circumstances.

Greg Burke directing for Greg and Lou
Greg Burke directing on set

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, outdoor and nature

FB: You also comment on the industry as a whole very regularly. Is that coming from a perspective of two creatives in the industry already and willing to poke fun at it, or rather two gentlemen still trying to break in and assume that that is what it’s like?

Greg: The industry is frustrating and ridiculous and painful. Those are all things that I enjoy making fun of.

Lou: I’m not sure if we regularly comment on the industry. We’ve always been creating our own work. Playing to our strengths and creating things in a voice that is unique to who we are. I can’t imagine what life would be like if I were just an actor, relying on others to cast me in their projects. I’m terrible at auditioning, so I can’t imagine booking very much. 

FB: I want to specifically talk about the White Walker videos. Your practical effects have always been to a pretty high standard but the make up on that is just astonishing.

Greg: Heather Galipo did the work on that and she’s a master special-effects makeup artist. I met her working at Cracked and, among other things, she made me into a caveman, an alien, a blood-soaked zombie killer, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant. So any time we have a special look involved for a sketch I immediately think of her.

Lou: So when it came time to work on WTI TV’s Game of Thrones parody, “Immigration Is Coming,” Greg couldn’t speak more highly of Heather. And her work shows. She’s incredible. Also that project is an example of us trying to get as much material as we can from one day of shooting. We doubled up to make WTI TV and Greg and Lou projects with the same crew and, of course, the same White Walker.

FB: Can you tell us why you’re so driven to murder in each sketch? Your overall body count could quite easily be 50 at this point.

Lou: We definitely like going dark. But it also has to do with having to heighten in comedy. I remember for a while it seemed like South Park was having a lot of suicides in their episodes. Which is a move we’d use a lot in our Hammerkatz sketches too.  

Greg: Parodying action movies is a huge part of that. It’s a genre we grew up loving and Stallone’s body count is huge. It’s an uphill climb.

FB: The landscape of Youtube has changed so much over the last decade, has that impacted on you as creators? Have you had to change anything to keep up?

Lou: We definitely don’t produce as much as we used to. We’ve had quite a few videos be demonetized, so it’s almost impossible to recover the money we put into production. It was a real bummer when “Wolverine’s Claws Suck” was demonitized. It’s our most-watched video with over 18.5 million views on YouTube.   

Greg: Yeah, any money we made on our channel we immediately put back into shooting more videos so YouTube’s monetization changes have had severe negative effects on that. At last count, half of our top 10, most-watched sketches were demonitized for “not being suitable for all audiences.” That, combined with YouTube’s ever-changing and incredibly unpredictable algorithm, has taken a lot of the incentive away from making new content.

FB: I feel your best sketches are the ones that seem to be very much of the zeitgeist at that time. They’re very much *of the internet* – for example the Crushing It video has become my go-to, rain or shine, for whenever someone asks me how I am. “Crushing it” has transcended. Do you write sketches that you specifically think will resonate on the internet?

Lou: Thank you for that. We actually thought “Crushing It” would crush it, but it never took off. We’ve felt that way about a lot of our videos that never caught on. We love to do parodies—but we have a habit of loving to do parodies of movies years after they’ve come out, when no one gives a shit about them anymore.

Greg: I gave up trying to predict what would go viral or even just be successful online a long time ago. We definitely comment on current stuff a lot, but it’s never because we think it’ll blow up, we’re just making stuff that we think is funny. If you’re just chasing view counts you’ll go nuts and burn out.

FB: Greg, you direct the Greg & Lou sketches. How is that for you? Directing yourself, or even Lou for that matter?

Greg: I’m a pleasure to direct. Talented, original, hard-working. I wish there were more of me.

Lou: Greg directs and edits. I trust him. We’ve been performing together for so long that I feel comfortable trying things out—taking risks.

FB: Lou, what is your role on WeTheInternet?

Lou: I’m the head writer and executive producer, and often in front of the camera as well. 

Greg: The channel’s official title is actually WeTheLou presents LouTheWe.

FB: With you doing that on a daily basis, does it mean the Greg & Lou Youtube channel is dead? Or should we expect more? What do you both have upcoming?

Lou: We have some Greg and Lou videos in the can that we’ll release one day. We’ve talked about returning to the stage too. We’re thinking an NYC reunion show. 

Greg: I live in LA but fly back to NYC a lot to direct and edit stuff for WTI because I miss Lou and want to make sure he’s eating right and getting enough sleep. We’ll be releasing some Greg & Lou stuff that’s in post-production soon. And hopefully, if our schedules allow – and YouTube doesn’t get even worse – shoot some new stuff.

FB: Finally, who’s your favourite famous “Greg”?

Lou: Greg.

Greg: Me.

FB: And best Lou?

Lou: My best Lou is creating with Greg. 

Greg: Lou Gehrig.

You can watch all the sketches at Greg&Lou, Lou Perez’ latest bits on WeTheInternet and their Facebook page, Greg can be followed on Twitter, or Lou’s… otherwise, you can read up about Lou Gehrig’s disease right here.

Dream of being a creator? Want to know about how to get into the film industry, YouTube or other areas of the creative world? Check out our other interviews for more insight!

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