I interviewed two local celebrities as a baby journalist for my intro to journalism class at Gonzaga University in 2009. If you’re not familiar with Barats and Bereta, either you didn’t watch much YouTube in the mid-to-late 2000s or you didn’t go to Gonzaga. In any case, I’ve provided some of their videos within the piece. (The first one was an especially good recruitment video for Gonzaga back in the day.) Enjoy!
If there’s one thing Gonzaga students know about that doesn’t involve Ira Brown’s thunderous dunk last season or Demetri Goodson’s last-second bank shot that sent the Zags to the Sweet Sixteen, it’s Barats and Bereta.
Luke Barats and Joe Bereta, graduates of Gonzaga, are legends on campus for their Internet videos that took the school – and the nation – by storm.
“I think both Joe and I figured our YouTube channel was a fun little thing that would eventually go the way of the dinosaur as we grew up,” said Barats. “But as it turns out, [it’s] still going strong.”
Despite the pair’s current fame, today’s Gonzaga students are of a new breed. Very few of them ever attended school at the same time as either Barats or Bereta. This means that much of the student body is unaware of how the pair got its start – and even fewer, it seems, know where they are or what they’re doing now.
Both men were very active in Gonzaga University Theater Sports (GUTS) and still regard it as one of the pivotal experiences of their lives in comedy.
“GUTS was the first outlet I found for my curiosity,” said Bereta. “[It] quickly became the activity I was most passionate about in college.”
“It was a lot of fun,” added Barats, “[and] probably the aspect of Gonzaga that has stuck with me most since graduating.”
Both men were GUTS council members – Barats in his junior and senior years, and Bereta in his senior year – and were very active members in the program.
After Bereta graduated in 2005, the pair began doing improvisation and stand-up comedy around Spokane. Bereta found a job editing and writing at Corner Booth Productions in the city, though this was not his first post-graduation job.
“I like to claim that Corner Booth Productions hired me right after graduation, but I actually worked my way up the restaurant hierarchy at The Old Spaghetti Factory,” said Bereta. “I actually served John Stockton one night.”
The pair continued making videos periodically following Bereta’s graduation. When Barats graduated the following year, he joined Bereta at Corner Booth Productions.
Although the pair thoroughly enjoyed comedy throughout high school and college, neither of them saw it as a practical career option until after graduation.
“I think the pursuit of comedy was always disguised as a hobby,” said Bereta.
At Corner Booth Productions, the pair mainly shot and edited television commercials. But in 2006, they were presented with an opportunity that would change their careers forever.
“[That year] we received an e-mail out of the blue from NBC,” said Barats. “They had seen our shorts online and wanted to know if we’d like to create a sketch show for them.”
The pair responded immediately with an enthusiastic “yes, please” and six months later they completed their pilot, “This Is Culdesac.”
Although NBC did not air the pilot, the duo submitted another pilot the next season. That one wasn’t picked up either, but they aren’t giving up.
“We’ll be pitching another pilot this fall,” said Barats.
The pair developed their craft immensely in producing “This Is Culdesac” and learned an enormous amount about the entertainment industry in a very short period of time. According to Bereta, some of their best shorts were included in the episode.
Since their stint with NBC, Barats and Bereta maintain the YouTube channel as their main collective focus. A typical day on the set of a film shoot is a tumultuous, emotional ordeal, insisted the pair.
“By noon [on the day of the shoot] I will have pissed everyone off by demanding take after take, causing us to fall behind schedule,” said Barats.
“Yeah,” agreed Bereta, “but don’t forget waiting for airplanes to pass, equipment trouble, and my inability to act. All those things take up time.”
Aside from their immensely popular Internet videos, the pair is also trying to establish themselves in the live comedy scene. They moved to Los Angeles six months ago and have performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, ImprovOlympic, and various other theaters in the area.
The duo’s plans for the future are at this point unclear, much attributed to the “fickle” nature of the entertainment industry.
Both men agree that a career in comedy would be favorable, but they have not quite dismissed their individual expectations.
“Besides trying to compete on G4’s Ninja Warrior,…I’m still a freelance editor and I’ve started doing some commercial acting,” said Bereta. “I’ve joined ComedySportz LA and am enjoying it immensely. I’m gonna keep doing comedy even if I’m not cashing in on it.” He also expresses interest in starting a production company in his home state of Montana.
Barats’ aspirations are slightly different, but not completely off the mark. “I’ve always enjoyed writing and it’s my hope to get my foot in that door somehow,” he said.
However, both agree that there’s nothing they’d rather be doing at this stage in their life than their collaborative comedy.
Barats and Bereta, the comedic geniuses out of a small Jesuit university in Spokane, Washington, embody the spirit of anyone hoping to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
In the near future, we may see the pair on the silver screen, or we may not. But all should rest assured that they will continue to revolutionize comedy for as long as they are able.
“And,” Bereta reminds us, “there is always Ninja Warrior.”