The Gregory Brothers Auto-Tune the World of Online Comedy
Two years ago, if you wanted to see the fantastically funny work of The Gregory Brothers, you needed to look to YouTube. Nowadays, they’re just about everywhere you turn.
The Gregory Brothers, you see, are the creators of the Auto-Tune the News series of web videos. In Auto-Tune the News, the brothers take clips from cable and broadcast news programs and turn talking heads into unintentional singers. It’s a genius idea that caught on instantly with the online video-viewing public.
YouTube and its millions of viewers have the power to turn nobodies into stars overnight. Before long, the Gregories (real-life brothers Evan, Andrew, and Michael, along with Evan’s wife Sarah Fullen Gregory) were one of the hottest acts streaming. Then, in October 2010, they crossed over into mainstream popularity: A news report showing a young man named Antoine Dodson talking about an attempted rapist in his neighborhood inspired their song “Bed Intruder Song,” which became a hit on iTunes. The Gregories transitioned from an online sensation to a young comedy team to watch out for.
That’s why you can catch the brothers in a lot more places than just YouTube right now. They’ve been spotted on popular video podcasts, at the first annual Comedy Awards, the SXSW festival, the YouTube-sponsored DigiTour, and even the Oscars. Yes, in less than 2 years this foursome went from YouTube to the Oscars. And they’re not done yet.
“We weren’t professional at age three, there’s no Wolfgang Amadeus Gregory in the family, but we’ve all been musicians for a long time,” says Evan. While the foursome seems to have broken out overnight, they’ve been working in music for years. Evan and Michael both have degrees in music, Andrew has several albums out as a solo singer/songwriter (under the name Andrew Rose Gregory), and Sarah has sung in a few different bands. The foursome even released a pre-Auto-Tune soul EP called Meet the Gregory Brothers in May 2009.
They always had an interest in humor, though, and that’s what led Michael, an audio engineer by profession, to experiment with using Auto-Tune for more than its commercially intended use. While the first Auto-Tune the News videos show Michael and the others learning the craft, before long they were turning out complex videos that went viral immediately. When they happened to see Antoine Dodson in a news report, they showed the world that they could create catchy stand-alone songs, as well.
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