Holly, voice of Dr. Coomer from the webseries Half-Life VR But The AI Is Self-Aware, joins Sarah to talk about her artistic influences. TOPICS: Pokemon Go To A Protest. Improv comedy pro strats. The mortifying ordeal of being known.

Listen to this episode at https://pgenpod.com/updates/episodes/92

Transcript[edit | edit source]

Sarah  : The Perfectly Generic Podcast contains spoilers, occasional adult language, and June .You've been warned. This show is supported by listeners like you on Patreon. We'd like to thank the following Crockertier patrons for their generous support per episode [names]

[Intro music] 

Sarah  : Is there a world inside our dreams? I don't know. Let's find out. This is the Perfectly Generic Podcast. Hi, I'm Sarah, and with me today is Holly. Hello. 

Holly  : [in Doctor Coomer voice] Hello podcast. [Sarah laughs] That's the character I play from the thing you may have heard of on the internet. Hi, what's up I'm Holly? How's it going?

Sarah  : Wow. It's  famous character actor Holly H- Uh you're Holly spook tones?

Holly  : It's hollowtones. 

Sarah  : Hollowtones. There it is. My brain mixed up all of the words.

Holly  : Oh, that happens to me so often 

Sarah  :[Sarah laughs] Famous internet character actor, Holly from the YouTube series Half Life VR, but the AI is self aware and you have graciously decided to come on to this strange little podcast that we do.

Holly  : Well, it's an honor to be here. I must say.

Sarah  :Yes, I'm sure. How are you today?

Holly  : I'm doing pretty good. I just drank a bunch of tea that was way too hot and injured my tongue. Other than that, I spent like three hours today petting my cat. So, pretty decent all around, I'd say. 

Sarah  : Ah, yeah, that's the dream. Honestly, if I could make a living doing a podcast that was just me laying in bed petting a cat I would just do that as my job.

Holly  : The world would be a much better place-

Sarah  : It would-

Holly  : If we could make a living just looking at a tree and playing with a small animal. 

Sarah  : [Sarah laughs] Yeah, I mean all of this ceaseless discourse on the internet, wouldn't we all be better off if we were just like hey check out my Instagram account where I just do live streams of me and my cat playing hula.

Holly  : Hey buddy maybe you should log off of the website and log on to this great picture of the forest I found.

Sarah  : [Sarah laughs] It's time to Pokemon Go outside everybody. [Holly laughs] Let's all- I mean we're getting there you know Pokemon Go to a protest.

Holly  : Let's Super Mario Runaway from a corrupt police system to something better. 

Sarah   : [Sarah laughs] Oh my Lord. We are living in an Animal Crossing New Horizons for [Holly laughs]  representative democracy. We're really Pocket Camping our way into the future with [Holly laughs harder] anarcho communist communes bubbling up all over the place, mutual aid funds and everything.

Holly  : It's time for us all to turn over a New Leaf and Smash the police state.

Sarah  : Yeah, exactly. 

Holly  : This is gonna be the rest of the podcast isn't it?

Sarah  : [Sarah laughs] Yeah, this is just gonna be the rest of the podcast.

Holly  : I'm gonna pull up a list of video game titles and Wikipedia so I've got material.

Sarah  : [Sarah laughs]Yeah, yeah, it's got to be the thing where it gets increasingly more difficult. Like I think it's time for me to build- we as a society need to build a guillotine so that we can The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess not have a princess anymore.[Holly laughs] No more monarchies.

Holly  : I'm looking up games on the Atari Jaguar, it's time for us to break out 2000 from our chains.[sarah laughs]

Sarah  : It's time for a Guitar Hero World Tour of communism from sea to shining sea.[Holly laughs] Oh, Lord. Anyway. Hey, everybody, hey everybody. I know it's scary out there. But remember when it comes time for you to face off against the police don't be afraid to go into a Super Smash Brothers brawl.

Holly  : [Holly laughs] I just saw Brawl on like a shelf in my room when I was trying to think of how I can work that in.[Both laugh]

Sarah  : Yeah.

Holly  : I appreciate you being smart enough to do it.

Sarah  : Anyway, so a little while ago– It feels like approximately two years ago but I think it was like a month. How long ago was it that y'all started doing the half life VR but AI is self aware?

Holly  : Oh, I've spent like the past three months in the hyperbolic time chamber for what feels like three years. I want to say we started it like end of March beginning of April. I should probably look that up, when my own goddamn show was released.

Sarah  : [Sarah laughs] Time is broken. We live in a timeless era.

Holly  : Oh god, it's hell isn't it?

Sarah  : We are- we've arrived in hell.

Holly  : Oh, it was beginning of March. I was wrong.

Sarah  : Oh, wow

Holly  : Okay. 

Sarah  : Okay, yeah, cuz I remember finding it- I watched it with my girlfriend,-

Holly  : Hell yeah.

Sarah  : -while I was trapped in Ireland, and we pretty much watched the whole thing  from start to finish. I think at that point, there's only been the first four episodes out.

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : And it was like, hey, let's check out this thing that people are talking about. And then by the- like, we weren't sure how to feel about it in the first five minutes. And then it literally happened on a day where we were all just like, completely demoralized and, like broken over the state of the world. We burned you know, four hours watching the whole thing, and, we were just laughing and then the sun was coming up and we're like, oops, we stayed up all night watching this weird YouTube show.

Holly  : [Holly laughs] That's how we tend to goes, doesn't it?

Sarah  : Yeah. And I think I've had a number of conversations about it with friends and fellow Homestucks who have found it to be very Homestuck adjacent and how it sort of coalesces.

Holly  : Interesting

Sarah  : And this is of course a Homestuck podcast. And so, whenever we have a new person on the show, we like to ask, What is your history with the webcomic Homestuck?

Holly  : Well, you lucked out getting me above anyone else in the cast because of everyone there I am like the except for like, my friend Mike, who played the GMan and also did a lot of the stagehand stuff. I'm basically the only Homestuck adjacent person in the crew. 

Sarah  : Wow. 

Holly  : I started reading it, um, more or less when it was new, and stuck around with it for quite a few years. Kind of dropped off at some point. It was act five. That was when they went to the other universe and had like the new set of kids and trolls. 

Sarah  : Yeah.

Holly  : It was around that point where I was like, finishing up high school or starting college or something along those lines. And it was like, I have other things to do. I don't know if I'm as interested in the narrative anymore, stuff like that, and dropped off for a while until I heard that the finale was out and I was like, Huh, I should watch that. And I did. 

Sarah  : Nice. You've got the essential experience, honestly. Really, you've done yourself a favor by peacing out because It sounds like you pretty much skipped all the stuff that people get the most obsessive over.

Holly  : Oh, dear. Is that good or bad?

Sarah  : Uh, well, okay, so I am personally of the mind that all of Homestuck is very good.

Holly  : Mm hmm.

Sarah  : But the fans can get a little over invested in certain things.

Holly  : Oh I know. Oh, I that's that's the kind of thing that whether you like it or not, you were going to become very, very precinct-p-p- Be very, very aware of. I couldn't say that word right. Whether you liked it or not, if you frequented spaces like Tumblr back in the day.

Sarah  : Oh, yeah, well now it's now it's Twitter. Like the, porn ban on Tumblr sort of pushed everybody over to Twitter. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : And I think right now we're in a weird moment where with the combination of quarantine and political disillusionment and disempowerment in general, everybody's bored out of their minds and sad and looking for somebody to beat the shit out of and Homestuck people are really easy to do that with because they're wearing grey face paint and candy corn horns so like [Holly laughs]. I don't know. But like, I personally think it's very worth reading. Of course, Viz, the company that owns the website and publishes the books, is not doing a great job of keeping the website up there now. 

Holly  : Uh oh

Sarah  : Yeah, there's a lot of things that were done in Flash are no longer supported in most browsers. And they recently migrated a bunch of things over to a new server, but a lot of images weren't hosted on whatever they migrated. So now, huge swaths are just like, they're just broken images. 

Holly  : Oh, god

Sarah  : It really- It really sucks.

Holly  : Yeah!

Sarah  : 'Cause also, you know,  there are people making official new Homestuck stuff right now, like Homestuck 2 is ongoing.

Holly  : Right, right Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : It's sort of like you want to be able to go hey, go to homestuck.com and read the webcomic. 

Holly  : Yeah. I was thinking to myself the other day, you know, it's been a while since I gave the thing a fair shake. Maybe I should try and read it from the get go. I guess I should maybe wait for that. 

Sarah  : Hmm. Hopefully, god it's so hard to know if or when- there's a big part of my like, conspiracy brain that's like, Oh, it's really, really convenient that Viz media is letting the website sort of just sit there. and not really keep it up as the internet grows and changes, when they are also publishing the relatively expensive hardcover bound version.

Holly  : Ooh yeah.

Sarah  : Like, oh, yeah, how convenient that the only ideal way of reading the comic is the way that you have to pay for.

Holly  : It's such an unfortunate coincidence there's nothing we can do about it unless you're willing to pay us 80 US dollars.

Sarah  : Ha yeah, exactly. And, I don't know, luckily, there are a lot of people who have their own archives that  they've had and like, nothing is lost. It's just a matter of convenience more than anything. And, you know, people are working on trying to get things fixed, and-

Holly : That's good. 

Sarah  : Yeah, hopefully, , it'll happen but what I will say is, like Homestuck has so much gender, and this is where we've all gotten into a lot of trouble being like, wow, every character in Homestuck is trans and a lot of people of course, in the Reddit set are like, but I've never thought about gender in my life. Why are you making me do this now? Anyway.

Holly  : Oh lordy, lordy, lordy.

Sarah  : It's, it's, it's fun. It's good

Holly  : People love to get so beat up about other people's interpretation of shit that isn't real in the first place. And like, I get that there's like a time and place for that if someone's being like, really shitty about things, but if it's just like, Hey, here's this character wouldn't be neat if there was a trans person like me and people, like, keep their fucking lid over it. And I mean, I'm preaching to the choir at this point, I'm sure but it's like, have you ever gone outside? Have you ever just gotten off your computer and sat in the grass for a bit? [Sarah Laughs] Please.

Sarah  : What is even- it's even wilder in this case, because a lot of times it's like, oh, no, it's actually canonical  like with the game Pesterquest. various characters have had their own gender arcs and in the comic proper-

Holly  : Oh, hell yeah. 

Sarah  : That's happened. And there's more plans like John Egbert is June she's gonna come out eventually.

Holly  : I remember hearing little bits about, yeah.

Sarah  : Yeah, that was made real by way of a Toblerone wish. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. as someone who, back when I was still identifying as a man, when I was really into Homestuck I was like, Oh, I like John Egbert a lot. I think he's real cool. I want to be kind of like him when I'm older and cooler. It's just kind of like, huh weird. What a funny coincidence huh.

Sarah  : Yeah, yeah. No, it was the exact same for me. It's like he's, he's the least interesting character in the comic by a lot. 

Holly  : Oh, god yeah

Sarah  : And I always identified with him the most.

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : And going back and rereading the comic recently, after having this like, more specific gender realization about him. I'm like, oh, oh my god. This is, this is very- this feels autobiographical in some ways. There's so much about how it's like- Oh god, anyway. 

Holly  : [Holly laughs] Welcome to the June Egbert podcast where we talk exclusively about June Egbert for three hours.

Sarah  : Oh God, oh God, I've done that before. [Holly laughs] Listen on this, literally on this podcast network there is a show dedicated exclusively to talking about Vriska and Terezi. So like- 

Holly  : My God

Sarah  : -it's, it's  not outside the realm of possibility and like I've written almost 200,000 words of fanfic about her so [Sarah laughs]

Holly  : Powerful.

Sarah  : That's a word for it for sure. Anyway. So how did we get on this conversation? I've been in like YouTube circles for a really long time and I've always been invested in the slow evolution of popular entertainment online through video. It seems like it's always had this streak of one term for it. I've seen this like Dadaist sensibility of it's just like chaotic, and really lacking and seriousness. 

Holly  : Well, it's a fun way to describe it

Sarah  : And watching HalfLife VR, it felt to me like a really interesting evolution in this trend that I've been seeing for like years now where, like the more recent version of it. Prior to that was the real time fandub games. 

Holly  : I'm a huge fan of their work. 

Sarah  : Oh, yeah, they're awesome. I'm curious how you feel about this mode of storytelling. That's like, a weird mix of improvised- like, it's like, Mystery Science Theater 3000. But you're also playing the movie as you're improvising. 

Holly  : Right? Right. It's I mean, we're definitely not the first people to do something like this, as you say, we're certainly not going to be the last. I think it's what's, how do I want to word this, exactly? It's like, it feels sort of like the natural conclusion of a lot of things like theater and, like online Let's Plays and things like that just sort of like all coalescing together into this weird mishmash, where when you look at it, like, objectively, from an outside position, you'd like it extensively doesn't feel like it should work. 

Sarah  :Yeah. 

Holly  : And yet, like, people like us and people like real time fandub, we've been able to draw in like these huge crowds doing something like this. And I think part of what like- what I think part of the appeal for stuff like this, specifically, when you're working with something preestablished with the promise of like, spontaneity and difference is the fact that things are going to be different. It's going to be like a framework that you are used to or tangentially aware of like we've had a ton of people watch this, who have like no experience with half life. They've never played any of the games. They'd never seen any footage of them. And like they were still drawn to this just because they were like, Well, I know a little bit about this I know enough to know this isn't how it's supposed to go normally. 

Sarah  : Yeah.

Holly  : So I think there's this appeal of sort of the weird and the difference. The promise of like, taking something familiar and like, flipping it on its head, making it do like a spin until it drills down to the center of the earth and melts an unrecognizable heat that if you smell it just right on a Tuesday you go Oh, that's Half Life. I know this. It's funny because it's different.

Sarah  : Right? It's a- it's uncanny.

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : And I think y'all have done like commentary streams that have been very, very detailed and explicit and delving into a lot of things. 

Holly  : That's been a lot of fun. 

Sarah  : Yeah, I bet that I've done some of those for like my own videos and I always find them really enjoyable. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : I- the thing that was really illuminating to me watching the first one of those was realizing that there was in fact, a stagehand and like, like people behind the scenes, like, following along, giving directions, the fact that y'all had to separate like– you were listening to Wayne and also talking off mic to each other out of character at the same time, and stage managing this thing and setting up props and bits and things. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : That immediately made this click to me is like, Oh, this is very similar to UCB type stuff. This is very improv comedy. And it's like managed chaos and the fact that it comes off as being completely spontaneous. It's just like it already feels so, so impressive to me to watch and then realizing how much of it is like, okay, get him like, like farm him over here so he can look at the stupid thing that I put on the ground. 

Holly  : Oh god, yeah, we spent the- I'm trying to remember who it was, I think it was Casey Green on Twitter who saw the series and described it from the viewer perspective as like a grown man trying to herd three cats around.[Sarah laughs] And then you have a completely different perspective of us putting on the show where it's three grown men and the Invisible Hand of God trying to lure around a feral beast [Sarah laughs] like some kind of awful chimp with a gun hand. And it's wonderful. 

Sarah  : Yeah.

Holly  : And I guess, sort of touching on that. Sort of like how we put it together and managed to make it work there was a lot of factors that went into this like being something I mean, I hesitate to use the word cohesive because at the end of the day, it was just like a bunch of jokes that we hamstrung together into something. But something that like, meshed together and worked there was a lot of factors like Mike had, like years of experience doing like stagehand stuff for like actual theater. I for years did like a bunch of improv and like theater stuff on the side as like a hobby. I originally wanted to go into that like as a career got talked out of it and now I'm kind of shifting back into it so I mean, I guess things work out in a weird way in the end. And like also the fact that like the majority of us have all been friends for like, oh god, what like 12-13 years at this point, so like, at this point, it feels like we have a psychic connection that we can use between each other to be like, okay, I want to make this dumb joke. This is how I want to do and everyone else goes okay perfect. This is how we can pull it off. This is what we can do together. And and like, there were definitely some difficulties at first like the whole adjusting to like A. having to like and play as these characters B. having to listen to what Wayne as Gordon is saying so that we can like know what to do, when to chime in, stuff like that, and C. just like howling at each other behind the scenes where no one else can hear us to make sure that this like, stage play held together by glue and duct tape and far too much prayer holds together and doesn't burn down around us. It was an adjustment period that I felt like we got pretty good at.

Sarah  : Yeah, I mean, I don't know, I think y'all did alright.

Holly  : Well thank you. Like I never get tired of people being like, Oh, I thought it was pretty good because there's always this like nagging fear in the back of my mind. Like, Oh shit, we could have done this and this so much better. We could have done X and Y so much better. We never got to do Z. It didn't work out. Oh, God, it was a mess. It was a nightmare. And then someone just goes like, hey, this was pretty good. And hey it helped me feel nice during a really rough time in the world. And it's like, my heart grows seven sizes that day. And I become the Grinch but good.

Sarah  : Yeah. No, I absolutely get that feeling where I'm constantly pretty much self sabotaging with those thoughts of like oh no, it wasn't as good as it could have been therefore the whole thing must be trash. But no like I found myself walking around quoting Dr Coomer all the time I don't know.[Holly laughs] I just literally this morning I was making coffee and I just looking at my roommates dog and I just sort of like got down on my knees and I just said FEED MY MY COINS MISTER FREEMAAAAAAN [Holly laughs] and the dog like backed away slowly and left the room.

Holly  : That specific line is going to haunt me to the end of my days. 

Sarah  : Oh I'm sure

Holly  : Because, so a lot of my lines, as you may or may not be surprised to hear, was me intending to say something else and completely flubbing it into something that still sounded more or less okay, but somehow I turned the word 'me' into 'my' so I just said 'my' twice. [Sarah laughs] And that one specifically, and also there's a bit in one were these crushing pendulums, and I forget what the name is, not pendulums, pendulums is what I called them by accident. They're fucking hydraulic presses. I called them pendulums by mistake and those two specifically– I'm going to die in a horrible mysterious wizard accident someday and they're going to put that on my grave to spite me

Sarah  : [Sarah laughs]Yeah, it was. I get that too. I've been on streams with much more talented or experienced I should say,  streamers and improv people and felt myself being self conscious and like flubbing lines and stopping and trying to correct myself and I think the hardest impulse to learn is to just sort of like go oh, I fucked this up. Well, I got to keep going anyway. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. I've gotten more or less good at that over the years just from doing Improv Theater stuff, but like, it's a hard thought to chase off completely. Imposter syndrome and perfectionism is a son of a bitch and I'm gonna kill her.

Sarah  : Yeah no absolutely though she deserves to die

Holly  : Justified

Sarah  : Yeah its a justified murder. You mentioned a little bit about the cohesive structure that sort of emerged over time. One of the things is that I just watched the finale again a little while ago and the whole dick slip rant [Holly laughs] like that and also the the Chucky cheese argument at the very end. Those to me feel emblematic of what makes this series and this type of thing special. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : Because over time, there's obviously a lore that starts building up where– 

Holly  : Right right 

Sarah  : –One person makes a joke and then another person echoes it later on and it starts building up. I really think it's always tempting with things like this to sort of lean too hard into the lore that you start building and start taking it a little bit too seriously. And to me for Benrey to be this the big bad at the end, and he doesn't do a supervillain monologue and he's not like, terrifying like, I'm here to destroy the world or what the fuck ever. No he's just an asshole. He's just a dumb little bitch like.

Holly  : Yeah, it's great. 

Sarah  : It's great. And it's actually all the more frightening because he's legitimately incomprehensible.

Holly  : Right? It works on two different levels. I think especially coming from my perspective where like, I know all these people. I've been friends with them for a long time. Like you get the perspective of Oh, this horrific completely unknowable abomination that just can't be reasoned with, its motivations cannot be understood or scrutinized it is here, it is going to do what it will and you are going to try your damnedest to stop it all in vain. And I think that's really funny from that perspective of like, this weird sort of background tinge of horror over this guy that's just ranting about Heavenly Sword for the PlayStation. But also at the same time, our perspective as a group of friends, which, I guess like folks can get some of if they watch the behind the scenes stuff where we talk about this specifically. So Benrey's, actor, Scorpy, is I want to say one of the most interesting people I've ever known in my life. We've known him for like, as long as we've known everyone else. And we've been in more or less daily like voice hangout calls with each other for ages. He pretty much never talks in them. And whenever he does talk to us, either in text or he'll just turn on his shitty rock band mic and make an awful sound and then mute again. And so he is one of the most baffling people I know but in an absolutely delightful way. I love him. His like entire character direction was Wayne basically decided Scorpy I think it would be funniest if you were playing yourself in this game. And so he ran with it. And at the end, Wayne specifically was like, okay, so you're gonna be like the main villain because you've been antagonizing me this whole time. I want you to come up with this speech like your super villain monologue. It needs to be complete bullshit, because that's what will be the funniest. And so Scorpy was alright, cool. I'm gonna run with this. I know exactly what to do. Didn't really tell any of us about what he was going to talk about. Except for 1. at one point asking Hey, how NSFW Can I get with this?[Sarah laughs] Like, shot down a little bit. And then 2. like, the night before the big performance, I was like, I had a bad day at work. I was really stressed out about doing well. We had so much to do. I was having a fucking panic attack and I was voicing my concerns. And Scorpy just messaged me and he said, don't worry about it. Just think about Heavenly Sword for the playstation you'll be alright[Sarah laughs] . And it caught me so off guard that I think it knocked all of my anxieties clean on its ass so I could pull out a knife and stab it.So. 

Sarah  : Oh my God. 

Holly  : So everyone's like, Oh my god, there's this super scary, funny villain guy who doesn't make any sense and we're all terrified of him because we don't know what he's gonna do next or why he's doing any of it. This is just how Scorpy's brain works. This is just who he is. And it's wonderful.

Sarah  : Oh, that's incredible. Yeah, his specific, like, I don't know his cadence and the way that he is just always trolling Gordon specifically. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : It's a very specific archetype. That is when we talk about how the series is like Homestuck adjacent. There's a character who shows up in Act six, which is the entire second half of the comic,  named Caliborn and who is 

Holly  : Oh, I remember that fucker. 

Sarah  : Yeah, he's basically like the epitome of shitty men online that's a misogynist troll type person. But from a narrative function he always shows up to just sort of make everything shitty– 

Holly  : Right

Sarah  : –In the weirdest dumbest ways. And Benrey as an antagonist consistently is baffling entirely because you're just like, Wh-wh-What? What? What do you what do you mean PlayStation Plus?[Holly laughs] Why are you bringing up Angry Video Game Nerd? What the fuck are you talking about? It's like you're driving along this already crazy road that's like, okay, I don't know what's going on. And y'all are just like improving and going wild. That's fine. And yet still somehow Benrey manages to show up in a semi truck from out of left field, just slam into your car and send you flying into the stratosphere thinking like, What? I'm not even in the same universe anymore. My third eye is open. I think I've just seen the face of God. And I don't know that I like what I saw.

Holly  : I think describing both Benrey and Scorpy as the fucking hit and run of people is very apt.[Sarah laughs] And I mean that in the best way.

Sarah  : Yeah. So I want to grab at some questions here. We've kind of covered some territory of this, but let's see. Yeah, so Hikaruly on Twitter asked I'm sure there were times your mind drew a blank or you couldn't follow up on somebody's prompt. How do you roll with that, not just go silent, especially live and any guidelines the things you'd like to keep in mind did not drop the ball?

Holly  : So there's like a two parter I can give as an answer for this specifically for the way I was playing my character. The first one is The Golden Rule of improv where whenever something is brought up as a topic or an idea or like something to move like the act forward with. It's really important to never just like, or at least rarely just shut things down in their tracks. Try not to go No. Going yes is okay. But the best thing you can do is a yes and. You take what your partners are doing and you use it as a stepping stone for something to go towards. And it can be something complete bullshit like, oh, someone can say like, oh, I've got this dog. It's made out of fire. And you can just be like, Oh, yeah, that dog sure is hot, hot dog, haha, or whatever. Or you could be like, yes, and he's going to burn down that house over there. It's going to be the hot dog disaster of 1873 all over again. It's it's important to just, like- it could literally be fucking anything, even if it's the first thought you think of and you're like, Oh, this is fucking stupid. Sometimes the stupidest ideas are secretly the best ones in disguise and you need to learn to nurture them and cherish them. So it's important to just try and run with things that other people are putting down. And then when you're putting stuff down yourself, try to make it a sort of- make it have enough of like a, what's a way I can put this enough about comedy foothold so that they can like grab onto that themselves and work with it as well. Number two, I don't know if anyone noticed this during the series, but Dr. Coomer has a habit of just going Hello, Gordon over and over again. I like to use that when my mind was just completely pulling a blank and I couldn't think of anything at all. 

Sarah  : Yeah.  

Holly  : Also my internet is absolute bobo garbage and likes to cut out at very, very inconvenient times. And so one thing I did which I've been doing for years is a bit because I think it's funny and I like doing YouTube poops is where I just like abruptly cut myself off mid sentence. So that if it does happen while I'm trying to say something and suddenly it's just like oh, my voice cut out you Didn't catch the end of it. Oh that's fine. Dr. Coomer does this; it's a character trait of his. 

Sarah  : Yeah.

Holly  : I guess some way you can word that is you could take some of your flaws or your negative traits and try and work that into a just like a trend that you can work with, I suppose.

Sarah  : Yeah. And one of the other things that I noticed that y'all are generally very good at is restraint, which I know is not the first word that anybody would necessarily throw but I mean, like,  the fact that you're not always constantly talking. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : I think it's really good that so many of the funniest moments are when Wayne asks a question and everybody is silent. And then it just like somebody chimes in with just like three words or something. And I think that's like yeah, go ahead

Holly  : That's that's like- that's something that we've just learned together over the years through just  doing stuff like this in our free time. Like putting on something like this is basically just like us fucking around in Garry's Mod together on a Thursday night except we put production value into it this time. So, like, I guess sort of our brand of comedy that first and foremost is something that we enjoy when we do things with each other part of that and something that I've learned to value over the years is learning to leave the space for a joke to breathe saying something that's funny and just like giving it a moment to settle or like adding in your two cents but leaving it it as two cents instead of like $100 check stuff like that. So let a moment have its moment in the sun. So you can all appreciate it before moving on to something else instead of trying to jam pack everything you can together. Like a hamburger is delicious in theory and you think to yourself, oh well, what's some other stuff that goes good with ground meat? What if I put salt and pepper in it? What if I work some garlic into it? What if I put some breadcrumbs into it? What if I put a bunch of herbs and spices? What If I put a whole lot of cheese in there What if I put some tomato in there? And suddenly your hamburgers become like a meatloaf that's not gonna cook right.

Sarah  : Right? Yeah, that's exactly how I would describe it to you literally stole the words all the way out of my mouth. 

Holly  : Hell yeah. I hope it was delicious. 

Sarah  : Ah, tasted so good. You hit on a thing that I've noticed is a pretty, I guess obvious trend  with things like this when people watch y'all's stuff or real time fan dubs or  any let's play stuff where it feels so off the cuff. People are like, how do you come up with those jokes all the time? I'm sure you  get that question all the time. 

Holly  : Mm hmm. 

Sarah  : The answer is almost always like, well, it's basically just practice. It's just like, you know, you have a chemistry with your friends that you don't have with strangers. You have like your own sort of subconscious language that you speak together and these things just happen. It's a greased wheel.

Holly  : Right. Right. It's like after doing this for 12 years, like the rot has gotten to the core of my brain, and this is just how I think now.

Sarah  : Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you're fully corrupted. And now you can't escape it 

Holly  : Forever really messed up and loving it. 

Sarah  : Yeah. So @ Rinlikesmemes on Twitter asked Have you ever worked in other mediums of storytelling, and if so, do many skills translate between that and improv? I wanted to get to this because you brought up that you worked in improv for a while. What's your history to the extent that you're willing to share

Holly  : So the quick and dirty of it, I don't want to go into too much detail because a lot of this is tied to my dead name. And for understandable reasons, I don't want to go into that too much. But uh, in the abstract sense. I did a lot of improv in high school. I did a lot of drama classes and school plays stuff like that. I was really, really hardcore into it. I was the fucking theater kid. But also I was like the fucking math nerd kid. And also was the kid that like tried to murder people when playing rugby? So-

Sarah  : Wow!

Holly  :A woman with many faces I guess. But

Sarah  :The rare theater nerd jock combo.

Holly  :[Holly laughs] I'm everything your mother warned you about, and you should be afraid, I promise you.[Sarah laughs] So, like, I was way into theater stuff and acting and I wanted to go into that. After high school I got talked out of it just because that's inherently kind of an unstable source of income as a job. But I mean, I'm kind of doing that anyways nowadays. So uh dun-nun dun nuh-nuh dun. So like for years after high school, when I was in college and uni and stuff, a bunch of us who did school stuff got together and we did a bunch of fringe theatre shows where it was a lot of, I guess underground is one way to put it. Sort of like out there different sort of like punk theater if that makes sense. I'm not really sure how many people have a theater background and how familiar they are with the fringe stuff. But it was like a lot of smaller sort of off the cuff stuff. Combined with  minimal props and stage stuff and a lot of, in our case, it was a lot of focus on physical comedy. We did a show of a, I think it's a Dutch play. It's (editor's note: i cannot spell or find this play), which is about a, like maybe it's actually French given the name is a French name.  It's about this really horrible, vile man who is like, the king of somewhere or another and he is- everyone hates him. He hates everyone. He is a coward and a bad man. And he's doing everything in his power to keep himself in power, which is, you know, a little apt given the political climate of today and basically every day in History. 

Sarah  : Uh huh.

Holly  : But uh so it was it was an exercise in like trying to go with like this like pre established scripts and like trying to bend it in our own interesting ways. And in lieu of a lot of props. We went for a lot of physical comedy like this, was a bit I came up with that, I was really proud of the idea of using people as chairs instead of actual chairs, that's to show off the sort of decadence and sort of vile ravishness of these people. I was one of the chairs and I almost collapsed and I worked that into a bit in the show and it was really funny and I'm proud of it. 

Sarah  : Oh wow. 

Holly  : Also, just like improv in general. I did a little bit of improv stuff just as a hobby with various different groups. There was a group at my college that I did that with for a little bit. That was fun. So that gave me a little bit of experience. In terms of like other creative stuff, I for a couple of years have been doing online streaming on and off. It only really took off recently, so I've been doing it more often. That in itself is like a decent sort of segue into this stuff because when you're streaming, it's a lot of like, dealing with what a game throws at you unexpectedly in interesting ways dealing with what folks are saying to you in a chat. Dealing out what anyone else you're talking with the time it's like, juggling a lot of things at once, it turns out makes you very good at juggling a lot of things at once, which is what we were doing in the HLVR.

Sarah  : Yeah.

Holly  : Uh, other than that, uh mmmmmm I did a little bit of writing and poetry and stuff back in the day. A lot of my writing was embarrassing fanfic that I wrote about the Elder Scrolls that had never shown to anyone because I didn't think it was good enough. And also, uh, writing academic papers as a joke, I think is the best way of putting it.

Sarah  : Ooh

Holly  : And I don't know if that would like how that would necessarily translate too hard into like the work we did here. But I guess sort of a mindset of like, trying to play off something that is allegedly serious or scientific or scholarly in tone when it is absolutely a goddamn joke in every single identifiable way possible, which I guess works pretty well, when you're playing a scientist that also knows nothing.

Sarah  :Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you have the whole Wikipedia bit of course [Holly laughs]. Yeah. And so griever1337 on Twitter asks: What do you think it is about Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, that makes it so strangely funny conceptually?

Holly  :[Holly laughs] Oh, my friend, if you've come here for scalding hot Wikipedia opinions, you've come to the right podcast.[Both laugh] So the Wikipedia thing is something that I've been doing as a joke with this friend group for years and I'm not sure... I could not tell you exactly what it was that started this. It is context that has been long lost to time, but the context doesn't matter too much. Anyways, sometimes I like to just pull up a Wikipedia article and read it out verbatim because something about that is really funny to me. And I think part of that is like, a lot of that is in the way people try to be scholarly and informative about really basic well known concepts. Like I want to say, I think Wikipedia is a really huge important valuable resource like on the internet. At the same time, someone taking a chair and describing it as like a raised surface with four legs and the back commonly used to sit on something about just like the absurdity of trying to break down a chair to its base essentials like you're trying to describe it to an alien or a dog that has learned to understand human speech is really goddamn funny to me. Also. 

Sarah  :Yeah. 

Holly  :Like, another source of Wikipedia humor to me, God feels weird saying that out loud,  another source of the humor to me is like, these really long lists that you get of things like people trying to list out like, in a scholarly setting like, Oh, I am compiling for your viewing and learning pleasure, a list of every sandwich ever made in the world, for like a list of something that like a is inherently like impossible to document because there are infinite variations of a sandwich, you can take a piece of bread and put it in between two other pieces of bread and that's a bread loaf sandwich. [Sarah laughs] Apparently that's a thing in the UK toast sandwich. I learned about that the other day, because I was reading this literal article again as a joke to myself. But like, and also you get things like, Oh, this is a list of deceased individuals. This list is incomplete by its nature and you can help Wikipedia by expanding it. The wording of that is just– I could spend hundreds of years training with like a monastic order of clowns at the top of a mountain to be like the master of my jokes art and nothing will ever be as funny as Wikipedia encouraging murder.

Sarah  :[Sarah laughs] Yeah, I  really like the chair thing too, because that's literally a philosophical problem. How do you describe a chair? What is the a priori image of a chair? How do you know what is and is not. And then Wikipedia is like, Oh, no, it's just a chair.

Holly  :Bro. It's easy. You break it down to its bare essentials. Here's some average measurements it can have here's what its color is often like on a Sunday evening. You ever wonder what a chair can smell like? Wikipedia has got you covered. It's like, Wikipedia in general- It feels like taking a philosophical topic of discussion, throwing it to like a swarm of hungry engineers and telling them to go at it. And it, rules.

Sarah  :It's the epitome of the no meaning only lore, mindset. 

Holly  :Mm hmm. Oh God it is. Yeah. How Wikipedia has got to have some good lore, doesn't it? 

Sarah  :Oh, I'm sure 

Holly  :Lord, I get that a lot. Even just like with some of the stuff that we've done for HLVR, like, I'll get a lot of questions on Twitter or when I'm on stream or literally when I'm just hanging out with some other friends somewhere else. And people notice me and like, sometimes they'll be like, hey, Holly, when this happened at like, in Act Three, part two, exactly 27 minutes and 43 seconds, when Dr. Coomer mentioned the existence of Wikipedia, even though the Half Life series purportedly takes place in the early 1990s, when Wikipedia doesn't exist. How does that exactly correlate to the timeline of events? How would you account for this gaping plot hole that needs to be addressed?[Sarah sighs] And how would you say this is directly correlated to Einstein's theory of relativity [Sarah laughs] you dumb son of a bitch and how it's not real? And it's- I am always floored when people ask this, like, I'm glad that you-

Sarah  :Do you know what fun is?!

Holly  :I'm glad you enjoyed this series enough to like, have enough of an attachment to be curious about these things. At the same time, you need to understand that 85% of what we put on was bullshit on purpose.

Sarah  :Yeah. When it's like the- the improvisational nature of the beast is that you're kind of just... in order to be good at it you have to not have a filter- 

Holly  :Right.

Sarah  :You just have to throw shit out and like you've trained yourself to be good at knowing the shape of what would be funny to say. But fundamentally, you're not like what are the lore implications–

Holly  :Right. 

Sarah  :–Of this random fucking reference?

Holly  :It's like, here's the shape and color of a dog that we have put on as a prop for this play and everyone wants to know, okay, but who is the dog's mother and what's its life story? What college the dog graduate from? It's a JPEG 

Sarah  :Yeah.

Holly  :That's what I can tell you. 

Sarah  :It's a JPEG of a dog named Sunkist.

Holly  :And some of it I do feel bad about it because it's like people that are like– that see parts of themselves in these series like we got a lot of questions like, Oh, I'm really attached to doctor Coomer. I like him a lot. Can you confirm whether or not he's transgender for us? And it's like, I get why you're doing that, I'm glad you feel so attached to my character because– that you were like, willing to ask this and I have some of my own thoughts about that too. But like, A. on the one hand, you need to understand like, this isn't our– this wasn't like, something we ever really thought of like, in the moment, I don't want to pull up JK Rowling and be like, Oh, yeah, by the way, Doctor Coomer runs an orphanage and takes care of young children with no parents because– 

Sarah  :Yeah.

Holly  :That fucking sucks. 

Sarah  :Yeah that blows. 

Holly  :Like, be like on some points– It's like, this isn't really something that we really have the right to talk about, I guess like, oh, are these characters gay? Is this character autistic? And it's like, you're absolutely welcome to read into that as will. I encourage it personally, I think it's great all these things that people are coming up with. And I think that's one of the really interesting, inherently transformative bits about fandom and its nature and like, consuming like pieces of art. But like, some of it's just like, either it doesn't matter or it would feel weird confirming this because it's not really my right to say oh, Dr. Coomer. What's his ethnicity? What's his, racial origin?

Sarah  :Right.

Holly  :I'm, I don't know, it feels weird. Like, I'm white. And also this is like a white polygonal model from a video game in the 1990s. 

Sarah  :Yeah.

Holly  :Like absolutely. Like, I encourage you to like read into this in whatever way makes you happiest. As long as you're not doing or saying something that's inherently harmful to other people. But like, maybe it's just not really my right to say. 

Sarah  :Yeah, I think it's –I've noticed this too. In my own circles, and I think it's sad that there is a level of one– of my own personal bugbears is that I don't think we have very good media literacy education. 

Holly  :Mm hmm. Definitely. 

Sarah  :I think one of the aspects of that is like, folks are happy to come up with their own headcanons, but they fundamentally feel as though they are valueless until they are confirmed.

Holly  :Right. 

Sarah  :And it is kind of sad to me that you can have this image of the media in your head like this character is trans and that speaks to me. But there's this level of insecurity attached to it where that opinion– you're subject to insults for it and you can be ostracized from whatever little community you have–

Holly  :Right and its like its–

Sarah  :– because it's not supported. Right, yeah?

Holly  :Like it fucking sucks that people are going at each other's throats about stuff like this because like, that's one of the most fascinating things to me about like consuming media and art is that like– And like, objectivity is a fake idea and I hate it but especially with art. Like it is inherently up to like your personal interpretation, what you see, what it makes you think and feel. And so when people are like, oh it sucks, I have this cool idea about the character, but I don't know if it's like– if it will fit within the framework of what it is and my take on it as always this. Is there anything in the piece of media that inherently disproves this idea of yours–

Sarah  :Yes

Holly  :And if so, do you hate this thing that  disproves it anyways. It's a flowchart that leads to Congratulations, I have been dead for three years. You are the author now.

Sarah  :Yeah. Well, and with half life VR, especially, it's funny to me because it's literally like seven layers removed from its own source material. 

Holly  :Exactly. We're literally taking an old video game and writing our own hokey fanfiction about it where it's like, oh, what if Gordon Freeman got his arm cut off and drank a potion that turned him into a mini gun that shot his toenails?

Sarah  :Yeah. It's like you can, in fact, just make up whatever. And this is something that I noticed whenever we actually announced that you were going to be on this show that a number of people were like, Oh, wow, you got Holly? What a get. And it's stuck out to me,[Holly laughs] specifically because like, I just messaged you on Tumblr and was like, hey, do you want to come on this show? And you were like, yeah.

Holly  :Yeah that was like, Yeah, I'd love to if I have the time. I hope I'll have the time and then I had the time.

Sarah  :Yeah. And it's like, you got to understand that there's nothing that separates people who make things that you like from you as a person as a listener or viewer member of any audience.

Holly  :Like this is something that I've been trying to get better about for years and I had to very suddenly get very violently good at when I was suddenly thrust into the public eye, and a lot of creative types that I've been looking up to for years, were suddenly reaching out to me like Hey, I really liked your work, or Hey, I think you're really cool or Hey, do you want to be friends? Do you want to come hang out with me and do something with me? And it's like, Oh, right. I understand now that I'm thrust into the spotlight that these people were at some point. People are just people.

Sarah  :Yes. Yeah, yeah, people are just people. And every single case that I am privy to, whenever somebody is at the head of some wildly unexpectedly successful thing that people really latch on to, it's like, it's just as baffling to them as it is to anybody. It's been baffling for me with my own work. 

Holly  :Oh, God, yeah. 

Sarah  :Where you're just sort of like, suddenly people are like, just random strangers know my name and look up to me and like my work, and people start asking for advice and start being like,  How can I ever possibly hope to ascend to the heights that you set, like– 

Holly  :Oh god yeah.

Sarah  :–I just fuckin came up with this shit.

Holly  :Yeah, like  Christ. Like for a while before we were doing the HLVR stuff. And before the big reveal of like who we were and who was in it, I mean, some of them were obvious just because like some of the people doing voices was just their regular voices on purpose so people were like, Oh, I know who that is that's Baaulp because that's just Baaulp doing his Baaulp voice but for like months I was just this like, pretty much no name nobody on twitch dot TV pulling like 20 viewers playing a JRPG about a wizard doing puzzles and like a small time Tumblr fame that pretty much faded into obscurity because that's how Tumblr works– 

Sarah  :Yeah.

Holly  :–And then suddenly, like a big reveal of like, Oh, these aren't like all of the people who are in the thing. And suddenly I've got like, hundreds of people coming to my mentions in my inbox and my DMS every day. Like hey, a huge fan, you're an icon. You're like a hero to me, you're an inspiration I look up to you. And part of me is like, I'm honored that you'd like to see that in me. I'm delighted the part of me loves this. And also part of me is terrified because I'm just some girl on the internet.

Sarah  :Yes. Yeah. And now, the scary part is that there's all these people suddenly looking at you. And it's like, what if I say the wrong thing? What if I do the wrong thing?

Holly  :Oh god, I have so many people to let down? Yeah.

Sarah  :Yeah. And I specifically have felt this pressure because a lot of the stuff that people know me for is like explicitly about transgender identity, and I've gotten countless, countless messages of people saying, you know, your work made me realize I was trans or so so much, so much shit like that. And it's like, it's that's incredible and wonderful, and I'm so happy and that's literally what I wanted. Is that I felt like people that our conception of what gender is like inherently limiting and more people are probably trans than they realize because they think, Oh yeah, I'm just, I'm not a man stuck in a woman's body or a woman stuck in a man's body or whatever. 

Holly  :Right. 

Sarah  :But at the same time, suddenly, if I say the wrong thing on Twitter, now, hundreds of people are like, Oh, this person that I really liked, actually turns out to have been a really shitty person or whatever. And now I have no heroes. And it's like, it's amazing how fast this happens.

Holly  :Mm hmm. I think the important thing to do is just if you do fuck up, and like, if people do tell you, hey, you fucked up here. It's important to just realize, okay, that's possible. I'm just a human, people fuck up all the time and just be willing to go. Yeah, I did something wrong. It was shitty of me. I'm sorry. 

Sarah  :Yeah.

Holly  :And Like, the people that are like, willing to forgive you and like, be understanding, will do that. And like the people that aren't, weren't going to change their mind anyways. So it's just– it's a matter of like, learning to accept that, I guess. I mean, I guess I have some experience with that with like, trying to be like someone as openly trans as I can and the situation that I am where people are gonna be like, Oh, well, you're just a fucking weirdo on the internet. You know, you're a weird shitter because of this. And it's like, okay, nothing I can say is really going to change your mind anyways, but people are going to be accepting of me. So I might as well just try and focus on that. 

Sarah  :Yeah, it's weird. Like for me, when I found out that you were trans, or specific, you know, the chain of events like Oh, the voice of Dr. Coomer is a trans woman. That to me was like, Oh, shit that rules. Like I felt–  that made me even more invested than I already was. Specifically because I think, I don't want to say it's so brave,[Holly laughs] but it is really cool to see a trans woman like doing the voice of just like a dude in this series and not making a big deal of it, I guess. And I think...go ahead.

Holly  :Yeah, from the get go, that was an important thing to me being like, okay, we're gonna get our credits roll eventually it's going to be revealed who we are. I want to be very open about that. Very straightforward about that because I think it's important for people like me to be able to see people like me, being able to do more roles in things like this instead of just being pigeonholed into a specific archetype, which unfortunately seems to happen a lot. Just because of what people expect of us for some baffling reason. I've never ever been able to understand and then I was set on that like right up until basically a little bit before the finale when I realized oh shit, there's like a lot of people with eyes on this series. There are a lot of people on the internet and people on the internet can be really fucking weird when you're a trans person

Sarah  :Yeah they can.

Holly  :So, I mean I'm sure you know that obviously. But like, god there was this horrible nagging pain we finished the whole series and we rolled the credits that was pre recorded. I'm thinking okay, great. My job is done. Oh shit, right the big reveal of fuck Oh, god damn it. Thankfully people have been... I'm trying to think of the word to describe this– exceedingly normal about it. 

Sarah  :That's good 

Holly  :Which is probably the best I can ask for. All things considered.

Sarah  :Yeah, yeah, just be normal. Please. 

Holly  :Like you get some shitters but they're really obviously like bad faith actors. So it's like okay, blocking people is easy and free and it makes me feel good to do it. 

Sarah  :Yeah. No, I encourage– I know a lot of people that I've watched them sort of reach their own sort of level of fame and my advice has always been like stop engaging close your inboxes just block people like you do not have to subject yourself to the abuse of complete strangers. 

Holly  :Oh, you really don't. I realized that the hard way a couple years ago and my life has been significantly better.

Sarah  :Yeah, the constant discourse maelstrom worms its way into your brain and it can ruin your life. 

Holly  :Oh, God, yeah. 

Sarah  :Without you even really realizing it. 

Holly  :Mm hmm. 

Sarah  :But at the same time, being accessible and being out there making shit that people care about like,  for me personally, it's worth it. It's just a tough balance and people can get way too invested in some really weird and unfortunate ways. I don't know. So bellicosephodopus on discord asked 

Holly  :That's a powerful name. 

Sarah  :Yeah, it is. How is the popularization of streaming and of twitch in particular, changed youtube poop and machinima as artistic mediums and also Goomy asked Curious about your inspirations with regards to improv and knowing that the crew has a large history with YouTube poop.

Holly  :Mm hmm. Youtube Poop is absolutely. God. It feels weird being on like a podcast and just being like, I was inspired heavily by poop. But honestly, what YTP was such a formative, part of who I am. This is like a really weird tangential story. But, uh, if I had not gotten into YouTube Poop, I do not know if I would have realized that I was a trans woman, because of a baffling chain of events like a Rube Goldberg machine of like smashing open my conception of who I am. More or less, getting into YouTube Poop. Also getting into Team Fortress two weirdly enough, both of those things together, got me on Steam and got me to join a Steam group that was purportedly about YTP, which is where I met all of these people. And some of them got me to go on Tumblr for a while. Going on Tumblr for a while was where I met a bunch of other people who were a lot more like socially conscious and gender conscious. And like learning about all that and having some unfortunately bad experiences with some people is indirectly what led me to thinking hmm maybe something is like up and different with me. And that's what led me to realize hey, dummy, you're a girl, you've always been you can be What the? And it feels really funny when I just say Oh, Team Fortress two the game with the funny man he shoot a minigun and eat a sandwich that's why I'm a woman today.[Sarah laughs] But I mean, stranger things have happened.

Sarah  :It's the dumbest shit.

Holly  :It's always the dumbest shit it's great.

Sarah  :That's what  I think though doesn't get focused on enough is so many gender stories are so self serious and it's like, for a lot of people. The realisation is like through a cartoon or a dumb movie. Like I literally based a fanfiction on What if John Egbert rewatchs Conair and realized, oh wait, I always wanted to be. It's not that I wanted to be Nicolas Cage. I wanted to be Nicolas Cage's daughter. And then that's what makes them realize she's trans. Because like–

Holly  :Like– 

Sarah  :Go ahead

Holly  :Yeah, no, you go ahead actually,

Sarah  :No, no, it's just inherently like gender. Once you pierce the veil and see how–, what's your relationship to it really is it's like it's inherently absurd.

Holly  :Mm hmm. Like there's all these moments that I could look back on and be like, oh, maybe that was something like oh, when I was a kid and I watched Sailor Moon a lot with my sister. I was really obsessed with Sailor Mercury and I wanted Sailor Mercury and Sailor Jupiter to kiss a lot Ah, that's weird. 

Sarah  :Yeah!

Holly  :I wonder why that is I'm gonna compartmentalize that for like–

Sarah  :Yeah!

Holly  :–thousands of years and not think about it until much later stuff like that. And like that wasn't like the event that spurned it off, but it's always funny in retrospect to look back on that and be like, Oh, yeah, that's what that meant wasn't it. 

Sarah  :Yeah. Yeah, exactly. 

Holly  :Anyways, I guess specifically back on the topic originally.

Sarah  :Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Holly  :Questions. Very, very sorry about that question askers by the way.  YTP has been very formative about, like, my sense of humor and like things that I find funny–like, it feels God it feels extremely– it's gonna be really really baffling to say this out loud, but I'm a YTP snob. I'm a snob about this because it's like oh, there's some of these things that other people think are like, Oh, this is really funny. And it's just a video of like, oh, here's the king from Zelda cdi saying dinner over and over again for 10 minutes– actually no I changed my mind. That's really fucking funny.[Sarah laughs] But um, bad example. But like, there'll be a lot of stuff people will be like, oh, this is a really funny video. I love this so much. And I watch it. I'm like, yeah, this is okay. I get how like, someone would think this is really funny, but like, it doesn't really do anything for me. And then I watch a video. That is literally just called the letter P and it's literally just this one picture of Dr. Robotnik and someone constantly stretching out him saying pengis in horrible awful ways over the course of three minutes and sometimes the really old Facebook Messenger sound plays over it. And that has me on the floor in fucking stitches about to pass out because I can't breathe because my lungs don't work right. 

Sarah  :Oh my god. 

Holly  :So like, it's been this, weird transformative thing where it's completely changed a lot of what I think is funny in some ways I like to say for the better but in some ways, it's like I see a lot of like, I fucking hate this word, but I can't think of like literally any other word to use for it. Like a lot of more normie humor stuff that's like okay, I can see why people would find this funny. I'm glad other people find this funny. It's not really doing anything for me.

Sarah  :Yeah, I think YTP has this transformative quality to it that is you know– it's not just here as a joke, but here is a thing that you are familiar with and making it unfamiliar. And like, here's how we can twist this maybe mundane or safe thing and make it completely insane and unsafe in its own way.

Holly  :Right. And I think that's like something that like now that I'm actually thinking about this that applies to the HL VR series we did taking something that's familiar and safe and known and turning it into something that's inherently different and unknown is like, Oh, we don't know what to expect and it feels weird just boiling comedy down to like, oh, thing is different laugh now, but that's definitely part of it.

Sarah  :No, yeah. I mean, that's a big, big trend in this type of thing. I don't know. It's interesting to me that, like Marble and Penny both are really big into YouTube Poop stuff too, as well. I've been in chats with them and other folks that are like they'll just go on quoting those for like 40-50 minutes and I'm sitting there because I completely missed that side of the internet and they'll be sitting there just like reciting these things and getting the weird like ways that those fuck up your voice down to perfection.

Holly  :I've always been really bad at the memorization of specific bits from poop tubes like that but one thing I got really good at because I thought it was funny is like modulating my voice and weird ways like [demonstrates weird voice] making your pitch sound all weird. And like cutting your– self off off abru–ptly and make things going like that or like being able to repeat the same pitch over and over again, which  I figured I would just like go whole hog on that in like the HL VR series just because I think it's a fun thing to do. Just to have that sort of like consistency of tone and like recurring lines. It's really fun to do if you can pull it off. I recommend it to anyone with a voice.

Sarah  :Yeah, well, that I think, is one of the things that people are most surprised about, it certainly was surprising to me to learn about, Dr. Coomer is that you didn't use a soundboard.

Holly  :No, I got that a lot. Like a lot of people were like, oh, did you have like a bunch of lines pre recorded so that you could like, play them when you didn't know what to say? Or you could cut them off abruptly as a joke and like, Listen, I'm glad you think that highly of me that I'd be like that prepared. But I don't know how to break this to you. I'm not smart enough to set up a soundboard. I don't know how to do that.Oh, god, I'm like a grandma on the internet.

Sarah  :Yeah, I think that speaks to how a lot of skills that you might think are kind of worthless or weird, end up coming into play in the stuff that you do. And I feel like that's sort of the consistent theme of this conversation is that you just sort of do shit. And then over time, all of these things coalesce like you started doing improv and then you've got away from it. Now you've sort of circled back around to doing that, and it's been similar for me with my writing. And...

Holly  :Right, yeah.

Sarah  :–it's so easy, I think to feel like you've peaked or you can't do it anymore. You're not good at it. And then like, you know, I spent so long working on this thing, and then you just give up. Like I did a Let's Play show for like a year and a half. And it did absolutely nothing. But I learned a lot on that thing. Like you have to be able to take your failed endeavors and recognize the skills that you learn from them as being inherently valuable. And eventually, you turn around and realize, like, people say, Oh,  you're naturally just so good at this thing. And you're like, No, I'm not naturally good at it. I've been doing it for years. It's just–

Holly  :Oh god yeah. 

Sarah  :It's just practice,

Holly  :I've gotten that so much. Like even back when my shtick was literally just, Hey, I make dumb posts on Tumblr because I think it's funny to me and were like, oh, the things you write. They're amazing. You're a visionary I could never hope to like, be as high as you are. I kiss your feet and it's like, number one. I'm literally just talking about how I think birds are funny on the internet number two, you like you have to realize this isn't some sort of like inherent trait I wasn't born with like the hand of God reaching down and going, my child someday you will play Doctor Cum on the Half Life show and everyone will love it. This is like, the culmination of me like doing dumb stuff with my friends for 12 years. And it's like, gradually whittling it down and polishing it to a mirror sheen until we realize hey, maybe we're actually pretty good at making people laugh. What do you know?

Sarah  :Yeah, it's funny how that works. Weird.

Holly  :Yeah, weird how like years and years of fucking around and garry's mod for fun like after school suddenly makes you really good at like taking the framework of a video game and like bending it to your will to do stuff for laughs. What th

Sarah  :Yeah. What the heck

Holly  :And so to anyone who's like, oh, like you guys are really good or like anything that you've seen that you really liked is really good. I don't know how we'll ever be able to come to that level. There's no point in ever trying. I mean, I absolutely understand that there's so many things I've done and gotten part way through and thought to myself, this is useless. This is garbage. I'm giving up and throwing it right into the bin. It's nothing and I want nothing to do with it anymore. You have to realize that like A. you are fighting against yourself to make you realize that like the things you make have value in are good even if it's just for yourself, not for a wider audience. And B you need to fucking put the work in and you need to try to like keep trying to make something that you can look at and be satisfied with. It takes a lot of work and you may never even be completely satisfied with the stuff you do fucking. I look back on a lot of the stuff I do and I think I've gotten better at this used to just be straight up. This is bad. This is awful. I'm going to torch this and have nothing to do with this, it's less that nowadays and more. Oh, I have so many regrets. I want to do this differently. I wanted to change something else about it and like, it's important to realize that like, that's not inherently a bad thing. Like, just giving into it wholesale is bad. That's really defeatist and you get nowhere with that you just get really, really tired and sad and you wonder what you're doing with your life. Which I learned the hard way many times throughout my life but, it's important to realize that you can take that voice and realize that means Okay, this means I want to improve how can I act on this How can I be productive with these thoughts? Or are these thoughts productive at all? Should I just accept them and toss them away? Or should I think on the more and see like, how I can improve myself, improve what I do, improve how I put myself out there stuff like that?

Sarah  :Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think the moment that we are in right now with online, the infrastructure that we have online, it is easier than ever to find new ways to create things and find the ability to support yourself making what you want to make. It's just a matter of doing it and getting better at it and not like–, a thing that you made that sucks is still a thing that you made that exists in the world.

Holly  :Right. Yeah, not to get all preachy, but honestly, the fact that we as people can just make shit and put it up there into the world and be like, Hey, here's like something I put together. Maybe it's not the best but it's there. I put in the work. I did my time. It exists. This is eternal proof that I was here and I did something that's fucking amazing to me.

Sarah  :It is absolutely incredible. And I think that that is a good note to end our show.You can find us on overcast, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and more at pgenpod.com or at pgenpod on Twitter. The music for this show is by Goomy. You can find links to more of their work in the description. You can support the show on Patreon.com/pgenpod. Patrons get access to 29 bonus episodes and counting on intermission. Your support is shared equitably with everyone who makes each episode possible. And at the end of this show, we like to thank our Skylark tier patrons for their generous support. [names]

Holly  :Oh fuck yeah. Big shout outs to all of you for coming through for my girl Sarah.

Sarah  :Thank you all so much. You can find me @hmsnofun on Twitter. And that's where all of my stuff is linked. Holly where can folks find you?

Holly  :You can find me at @hp_hollowtones on Twitter you can find me at twitch.tv/hollow_tones. You can find me at hollowtones. That's one word .tumblr.com. And you can find me inside your computer just pry open the case. I'm there right now, give me a little snack. I'm hungry.

Sarah  :Oh, wow, that's amazing.

Holly  :Gosh, please It's so cold in here.Sarah  :Wow, that's unfortunate. That's not a very powerful reg if it's cold.[Holly laughs]

Holly  :I'm a heatsink, I have a dampening effect please[Sarah laughs] Start over downloading.

Sarah  :Oh, God. Well, thank you so much for coming on, Holly. This was a delightful conversation. 

Holly  :Thank you very much for having me. It was an absolute delight. It was a joy. Apologies to all of the Homestuck listeners out there for me not knowing too much about the series anymore. Shout outs to Kanaya she's my favorite, and shout outs to– there's a fucking bluejay outside a window shadow. Shout outs to that bluejay

Sarah  :Shout outs to bluejay 

Holly  :Fuck Yeah.
Sarah  :Can we get pogs in the chat for that bluejay? 

Holly  :Yo, can we get a bird camp for this bluejay I just seen? Fuck yeah, we can. 

Sarah  :Oh, that one's for you, Kate. All right. Bye, everybody. 

Holly  :Good night, everyone.

[Outro music]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.