If your kids don't know Dude Perfect, they should. They are the best source of good, clean fun on the internet, and now they have taken their trick shots, caricatures, and all-around good times to TV.
Dude Perfect consists of five best friends who graduated from Texas A&M within the last few years and have devoted themselves to good-natured, highly entertaining trick shot videos online.
Think shooting a basketball from the upper deck of a football stadium or bowling a strike down forty lanes of a bowling alley.
The fellas clearly enjoy each other so much that they have become an online phenomenon, lodging tens of millions of views for their weekly videos.
The young fab five have taken their act to Country Music Television or CMT, with a reality show that lacks some of the key features of reality shows: scripted, seemingly impromptu fighting, foul language, and the rest of the absurdities of so-called modern entertainment.
My kids led me to Dude Perfect videos, and now to the CMT show. One of the five, Tyler Toney, along with his father, Jeff, the group's business manager, took time to speak with my kids and me about the new series, which debuted on CMT last month.
Walter Levin: When did you start getting the recognition you have now?
Tyler: It was over the period of a few videos. Our first really big video that took off was the Kyle Field shot, the world's longest basketball shot video that we did from the top of Kyle Field at College Station, Texas.
We went to bed that night and woke up to find that our video had over ten million views overnight. Then we were on the front page of Yahoo! And then everybody started picking up on it.
Kobe and Cory were going on a plane somewhere, and they experienced the same thing. They turned their phone off on the plane, and once they got off and turned it back on, their phone just kept buzzing with emails, texts, and calls. That put us on the map.
Isaac Levin: How did you guys get access to the Bass Pro Shop for the video you shot there?
Tyler: I worked at Bass Pro. We've got a great relationship with them. It was a video we always wanted to do, because as a kid your dream is to get locked inside your favorite department store and spend the night. And we're no different.
We visited the Bass Pro store in Memphis, and they gave us free reign--we could do whatever we wanted. They basically said, "Have fun. Try not to break too many things, and we'll see you guys in the morning."
Michael: How is the CMT show structured?
Jeff (Tyler's Dad): The show is non-scripted, and it basically follows the life of Dude Perfect and the Dudes' normal business activities. The fun part is that the guys get to be exactly who they are every day, and the show is kind of a fly on the wall, following the guys as they think up ideas, as they entertain themselves throughout the day, making up their own competitions and having fun. It's the little games and antics that they have with each other.
You also get to see the guys traveling to places like London and Chicago and seeing us shoot videos with people like Aaron Rogers and Chris Paul. You could describe the show as a day in the life of Dude Perfect.
Isaac: How different is it when they put microphones on you?
Tyler: It's obviously different when you're mic'd up and everything. But they told us, we just want to follow you guys on what you're doing on a daily basis. NASCAR invites us to drive the pace car at a race and Dale Jr.'s gonna be there, so we're not going to script something. You would never see us preparing to drive the pace car or anything like that. You would just see the actual execution of the idea.
The fun part of the show is seeing us goofy five guys and seeing how we might just get ready for something, or how we might prepare our mascot to meet some famous people because he smells like Doritos.
Walter: How do you keep the egos out of it?
Tyler: It's never been an issue for any of the guys. It's something we're not afraid to talk about, which I think helps. Everybody's got a pretty good head on his shoulders and understands how each of us fits into the big scheme of things. Nobody's out there trying to make a name for himself specifically or anything like that.
It's just, we're Dude Perfect, we're making a living doing fun YouTube videos and the TV show, and the reason it works is because we enjoy each other and enjoy making videos with each other.
That's why we went with Super Jacket Productions to do the show. They understood who we are as people and they're not trying to put us in a box to make us look like somebody we're not. It's very much that we're the five best friends from college who started making clean videos that everybody can enjoy, and that's what they're making a TV show about. They're not trying to create drama or anything like that. So that's a big help.
Michael: To what extent does your faith play a role in the show?
Jeff: The guys know they are blessed, and for whatever reason God's chosen to bless them with the ability to make a living doing something they love. They realize that it's not about them necessarily, and that they couldn't do this completely on their own. That helps keep them grounded. They consider themselves to be lucky to be servants to a higher calling, and they get to participate in this fun journey.
If you look at the guys, they're like your big brother, or they're like the guy next door, or the guy that plays on your team, and you can relate to them in a way that you may not be able to relate to some of those professional athletes who are incredibly gifted with a 6 foot 9 inch body and who can run a 4:40 or something like that. The guys appear to be like people you would want to hang around with. The fact that they enjoy competing in just about every imaginable sport allows them to touch a lot of different people.
Walter: When is Kobe going to win one of the battles?
Tyler: That might be the toughest question to answer in this whole thing. I think he's asking himself the same thing.
Isaac: How does it work with the trick shots -- do all the guys get to take their turns? Are you equal partners?
Jeff: One of the things fans don't get to see is a lot of the behind the scenes work, like all the editing that takes place, the filming, and the social media. All of the guys are deeply involved in those things in different ways.
Tyler: You don't see Cody doing all the behind the scenes emails and phone calls, and getting locations and setting things up. You don't see Garrett working on the finance side and making sure I don't buy too many props for the rage monster to break. We all share workload and have one goal at the end of the day. That's how that works.
Aliya Levin (age eight): Why do you call it Dude Perfect?
Tyler: The very first video that we ever filmed back in 2009, we were sitting in the backyard and we didn't have a cameraman. It was just us goofing around. So one of our guys went to set up our little digital picture camera in video mode on the railing of the backyard.
We had a couple of chairs set up, and he looked through the little display and he said, "Oh, dude, perfect," because everything was already in frame. We heard that when we were watching the video, and we decided that's how we could name the videos.
He could've said a lot of other things, but we're glad it ended up being Dude Perfect and not something weird or catchy. I think it ended up working out well for us.