Barats and Bereta for life (Jesu-WHAT?!)

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.”


A love letter to the Gonzaga Bulldogs (or, if you prefer, “Man-Zags”)

I started writing this on the morning of the 2017 men’s basketball national championship game, excited yet cautiously hopeful that Gonzaga would pull off a miraculous victory against North Carolina. When the game got out of hand in the last few minutes, I thought I’d never post this – but I didn’t delete the draft. Now, in July, close enough to the midway point between the end of the 2016-17 season and the beginning of the 2017-18 season, I’m going to click “publish,” as part of my duties of #Zag4Lyfe.

Also: the photo at the top is from when the Zags won the 2008-09 regular-season WCC title, and it was taken on an iPhone 3G, so please excuse the terrible quality.

Enjoy this nostalgia trip.

I only spent a year and a half at Gonzaga University – from September 2008 to December 2009 – but the entities that positively influenced my time there are with me to this day, and I thought it only right to salute these deserved people, places, and experiences.

This is for you, weekly scrambles during the preseason to find out which channel the Gonzaga basketball games were on, and then figuring out if the campus-provided cable lineup carried it.

To watch parties at the COG, where Peachy Kay was overjoyed to swipe you in, and watching the Zags fight valiantly but eventually lose to Michigan State, because on this day, the Izzone had the honor of cheering their team to victory.

To Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Austin Daye, Micah Downs, and Matt Bouldin, the first starting lineup I ever knew.

To everyone who camped out for games against St. Mary’s or Wake Forest or whatever game was deemed big enough for the Sunday afternoon ticket distribution to come with a tent number and the promise of better seats if you were only willing to brave the elements.

To the Kennel, which was first a sanctuary for preserving the Gonzaga home win streak, but remains one of the most formidable places to play in the country.

To the Spokesman-Review article posted behind the counter at Ultimate Bagel immortalizing Dan Monson’s 1998-99 squad and the Zags’ first trip to the Elite Eight.

To our fearless leader Dave (who in a bureaucratic intervention later became “Mr. Fague”) and the rest of the pep band; to blasting “The Impression I Get” and “Hey Baby” and “American Idiot” (and never speaking of times past where “Sweet Caroline” was a mainstay in our repertoire).

To “Remember the Name” and “Thunderstruck” and “Zombie Nation” and all the songs that defined Gonzaga basketball.

To being a Cinderella for so long, and suddenly not.

Thank you for the brief time I shared a campus with you, Gonzaga men’s basketball, and for the continued enjoyment from afar, from then to now and for years to come.

100 Things: Redux (1-20)

On January 19, 2010, I made a handwritten list called “100 things that make me happy.” I originally uploaded the photo to this blog so I could link to it when I made a brand-new list. But when the draft of this post sat in my “posts” section, untouched for months, I decided I needed to find a new angle.

Instead, I will split up that original list into groups of 20 items, and devote each post to briefly summarizing each one. Why might it have been on the list in 2010? Would it still be on my list today? Why was I such a strange 19-year-old?

Without further ado, please enjoy part 1 of what I’ll affectionately call “This 25-year-old revisited her teen years. What she discovered about herself will shock you.”

  1. My handwriting (sometimes)
    Sorry to start off boring, but this is still true. My handwriting is basically a disaster yet I tend to love it.
    This was a message board I joined in 2009 where I met the majority of online-only/online-first friends I’m still in contact with today.
  3. Major league baseball
    Case in point: I was recently trying to decide if I should buy an MLB.TV subscription, since the season begins soon. The single-team subscription gives you all out-of-market games for your team, excluding games that are blacked out in your region. Which, as an Iowan, means I cannot watch the Giants if they play against Minnesota, Milwaukee, Kansas City, St. Louis, or Chicago. That’s only 20 games I’d have to miss – and, realistically, I won’t be watching all 162 games anyway – but I still love baseball so much that I posted several bitter tweets about this injustice.
  4. My musical aptitude
    While this still makes me immensely happy, I play so less often now that I find myself not leading off my answer to the question “What are your hobbies?” with “You know, music and stuff.”
  5. Handel’s Messiah
    When I attended Gonzaga University, in my second-ever semester in choir, we sang Handel’s Messiah. Religiosity (or lack thereof) aside, it remains my favorite experience in choir.
  6. Keeping in touch with good friends
    Fewer now than when I wrote this list, but I don’t think that’s thr point. For example, I recently reached out to someone with whom I would frequently get into Angry Politics-Related Arguments on Facebook several years ago. We were friends most of the time, but our arguments could be brutal. I just wanted to say hi and apologize; I wasn’t expecting a reply. They were happy to hear from me, accepted my apology, and even apologized themselves. We haven’t spoken since, but that conversation was more meaningful to me than most I’ve had in at least the past year.
  7. Patrick Watson’s voice
    Still relevant. That is all.
  8. Being passionate about something
    I’m not sure what it was when I wrote this. Music, maybe. Now, it’s definitely writing. The two creative writing classes I’m taking now have especially rekindled my love for it, mainly due to the freedom the professors and graduate instructors give us to write about whatever we want.
  9. Tim Lincecum <3
    I hope a nice team picks him up. <3
  10. YouTube
    In 2010, I spent a good amount of time on YouTube ensuring that I saw each video from my subscribed channels on the day they came out. Charles Trippy, ShayCarl, Michael Buckley, Philip DeFranco, all those people who were among the first to make a living off their YouTube videos. Nowadays I mostly visit casually – if I’m in need of a good Vine compilation or “newcaster fails” montage, for instance – but I won’t lie, I do sometimes get a little nostalgic for the old days.
  11. Self-serve frozen yogurt
    My friend worked at one of these places before they came to my hometown. I used to go visit her at work, buy a cup of frozen yogurt and a root beer, and watch her do her Real Adult Job while I was on breaks from school. And when I lived in Iowa City, Yotopia was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights if you couldn’t get into the bars. When I learned that its owner was escorted out of a Donald Trump rally earlier this year, my respect for the business increased quite a bit.
  12. Singing in French
    Pretty sure the only French song I know most of the words to is still “Champs Elysées,” which we listened to in my high school French class a few times. (I regret that I cannot count Air’s songs here – while we also listened to this French band’s songs in that class, they sing in English.)
  13. Old Mary-Kate and Ashley movies
  14. Gonzaga basketball
    I believe what I meant by this entry was “Gonzaga pep band,” since I probably wouldn’t have attended a single basketball game if not for being a member. (Not that I dislike basketball, let’s be clear. It was just a Goddamn Ordeal to get a student ticket, but if you were with the band you got in through the staff entrance.)
  15. Peanut butter M&Ms
    I mean, they’re not awful. But out of all the candy in the world, would I put peanut butter M&Ms on a list of “100 things that make me happy” today? Probably not.
  16. Owning Lord of the Rings trivia
    I assume I meant “owning at Lord of the Rings trivia,” not “owning the physical Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit game,” which I do, but that’s not the point.
  17. David Archuleta singing in Spanish
    This song, specifically. I don’t remember why this is on the list, to be honest. I think I just had a crush on him.
  18. “Comme D’Habitude”
    Oh, right, we listened to this in French class too.
  19. Being in a vocal ensemble
    See #5. I don’t have another video, or I’d post it here.
  20. Adam Lambert
    He’s just SUCH A GOOD SINGER. And I’ve seen him live twice, so, I mean, I feel especially qualified make that assessment.