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Lloyd Ahlquist // Content Creators in Love

You all are in luck with this one! For the season finale of the podcast I sit down with two-time Emmy nominated co-creator of Epic Rap Battles of History (ERB), EpicLloyd – who also holds of the title of my husband. This episode is a little different because you all came up with many of the questions and topics we talk about! With that being said, we dive into the details of how Lloyd and I met and how we currently maintain our relationship as creatives. Lloyd also sheds light on how ERB started and where he hopes the project will evolve. Will Josie make it back on screen in a future ERB? Listen to find out!

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View the transcript here


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Notes from this Episode

Pomplamoose, Jack Conte’s (founder of Patreon) band

ERB Patreon

Mission: IMPROVable





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Can finally share these now that @erb season six premier episode is released: Wolverine vs Freddy Krueger. ⁣ ⁣ Don’t worry about @theepiclloyd claws – no Ahlquist was harmed. But that hair could totally cause some damage ?! Fun to film at our place for part of the episode. So freaking proud of the entire ERB family and can’t wait for this season!!⁣? ⁣ Directly after this pic I ran off to #naspa19, a student affairs annual conference. One day, two things I love! ⁣❤️❤️ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #epicrapbattles #erb #contentcreators #wolverine #fangirl #epicwife #epiclloyd #youtbe #epicrapbattlesofhistory


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Westside Comedy Theater

Kings of Influence Podcast

More about Lloyd Ahlquist, aka EpicLloyd

Lloyd Ahlquist (EpicLLOYD) is a two-time Emmy nominated co-creator of Epic Rap Battles of History. This celebrated Youtube series has amassed over 4 billion views and 14 million subscribers over just 70 episodes. With 12 certified gold records and collaborations with everyone from Key & Peele to T-Pain and Weird Al Yankovic, ERB is widely regarded as one of the most successful digital series of our generation.   

Lloyd is also a founding member of the improv comedy group Mission IMPROVable. In addition to it’s 5 successful college touring groups, Mission IMPROVable has expanded to use their talents on stage to educate students and military personnel around the globe.  With its award-winning alcohol awareness program “A Shot of Reality” coupled with their sexual assault preventions program “The C-Word,” Mission IMPROVable continues to not only bring out laughs but a force for good. Additionally, Mission IMPROVable owns and operates M.i.’s Westside Comedy Theater located in Santa Monica, CA. The WCT is one of the most thriving comedy communities and training centers in Los Angeles and was named in the top ten “Places to See Comedy in Los Angeles by LA Weekly. Lloyd remains an active theater owner, board member, performer and teacher.

Connect with Lloyd

Twitter: @theepiclloyd

Instagram: @theepiclloyd

Facebook: @epiclloyd

YouTube: /epiclloyd

ERB Twitter: @erbofhistory

ERB Instagram: @ERB

ERB Facebook: /ERB

Connect with Dr. Josie Ahlquist

Twitter: @josieahlquist 

LinkedIn: /JosieAhlquist

Instagram: @josieahlquist 

Facebook: Dr. Josie Ahlquist 


About Josie and The Podcast

In each episode, Dr. Josie Ahlquist – digital leadership author, researcher, and speaker – connects tech and leadership in education. This podcast will bring you leaders on-campus and online.

From Senior Vice Presidents on Snapchat, YouTubers receiving billions of views and new media professionals. All through the lens of life, leadership, and legacy. Josie hopes you will not only learn from these digital leaders but laugh as we all explore how to be our best selves online and off.

Thanks for listening! 



Josie: This is a very special episode. It is the final featured guest interview of season four of the podcast and it features someone who’s always been behind the scenes and very much in front of the scenes. Let’s just be honest, but first time I’m having him on this podcast, my partner in crime who the internet calls the Epic LLOYD. I’m sorry. I’m calling you Lloyd in this podcast. Hello, welcome.

Lloyd: Thank you. I felt like we should put an applause sound up for me-

Josie: There will be.

Lloyd: … yes. Thanks for having me.

Josie: Shout out to Dante who edits these. Maybe he can do that for us. It’s also pretty special because we’re actually recording this live in, well, they’re always recorded live but not in the same physical place. You all just imagine a yellow room filled with-

Lloyd: There’s some bugs in here. I will say that.

Josie: … paraphernalia like old records and photos of your high school band and your mom and me in your office-

Lloyd: I will allowed to say-

Josie: In your office, in your studio, that’s where we’re recording, but you are allowed-

Lloyd: [Cross talk 00:02:17] Are we allowed to say what my high school band was?

Josie: We’re not there yet.

Lloyd: We are not there? You guys are going to have to stay tuned.

Josie: Stay tuned. No, we first got to do warm up questions. This guy is going to be the hardest interview guest because I have to manage him.

Lloyd: Yeah, I’m going to be all over the place.

Josie: It’s okay.

Lloyd: I’m a loose all cannon.

Josie: This will be fun. It’s going to be fun. Okay, so I start all my interviews with a question about your bio for us to get to know you more.

Lloyd: Am I supposed to pretend I don’t know that because I listen to your podcasts.

Josie: Listen, let me set this up.

Lloyd: Okay. We’re cutting all of that.

Josie: All right. No, we’re keeping it. Okay. Your Twitter bio; that guy from ERB. Actor. Rapper. Raptor.

Lloyd: Yeah. What about it?

Josie: Why is that your bio?

Lloyd: Honestly I started that… I didn’t have Twitter until I did the rap battles, and Twitter came along and you probably told me to do it. I was like, “All right, well why are people going to follow me on Twitter?” It’s not because of the snarky, because I don’t say anything snarky. Basically I’m that guy from ERB and then actor, rapper, raptor, I thought that was, I came up with that a while later. Just, what always annoy me when people would be like, “Hey, I live in Los Angeles; I’m an actor slash dancers slash magician slash hopscotch instructor.” Actor and rapper are what I do and raptor is awesome, so it’s fun.

Josie: I remember when you came up with that and you immediately updated your bio. You’re like, that’s it.

Lloyd: I did a full 360 update.

Josie: That’s it. This is also a question I ask everyone is will you freestyle for us?

Lloyd: Really? That’s what you ask everyone?

Josie: That’s the most common question you get right? The worst one. I’m not going to go there. I’m just kidding.

Lloyd: I don’t mind freestyle.

Josie: But you call yourself a rapper. So…

Lloyd: Yeah, I don’t mind free styling. It’s putting somebody on the spot in a very weird way and you wouldn’t walk up to a professor and be like, “You’re a professor, lay some knowledge on me man.” You wouldn’t do that. It’s-

Josie: I bet they would though.

Lloyd: They probably would.

Josie: Next question, help us warm up. What was the most recent post on Instagram or on Twitter and why did you post it?

Lloyd: My most recent post on Instagram was me telling my followers that I’m just going to be a guest on this podcast and then before that was me-

Josie: What about in your grid?

Lloyd: My grid was for the ERB news, we just dropped a video yesterday. Most of the time on my Instagram page, to be honest, it’s serving as just an extension of the Epic rap battles. I don’t naturally post a lot like some people do. If I’m doing… It is just an advertisement, especially when the rap battles is in season of, here’s what I’m doing. Because that’s what takes most of my energy. That was my last post, basically just, I did a screen cap of the video we uploaded on YouTube, I caught a quick video of it and then was like, “Hey, check it out, it’s over here.”

Josie: What was in the news video? What are you announcing? This will come out after.

Lloyd: After, right. Well the show I do, if you guys listening aren’t familiar. I do a YouTube show called Epic Rap Battles of History, and we’ve been on a two and a half year hiatus and we’re coming back with a sixth season. We make a sidecar news show called ERB news, which is hosted by Teddy Roosevelt and I, that’s the voice of me and he talks like this, “What’s up, hello everyone, I’m Teddy Roosevelt.” He says some curse words every once in a while. He delivered with [inaudible 00:06:28].

Josie: He’s passionate.

Lloyd: He’s a passionate dude. He’s the voice of the news and the news was announcing the date that the first episode of the sixth season is coming out and that’s on April 20th. Also, that we just started a Patreon page, which is a really great new platform for artists to get support for their art from the people who love their art. That was what the news is about.

Josie: Can you explain what Patreon is in case people don’t know?

Lloyd: Patreon is a website that was started by a guy named Jack Conte who is a musician in a group called Pomplamoose. It’s this cool band. You guys should check them out. One day, or I should say one year he spent $30,000 on a YouTube video and then the ad revenue only earned him like 150 bucks back. He was like, “What the heck?” He came up with this idea to ask people who were fans of theirs because they would tour and stuff to be like, “If you guys like our art, if you like what we do and you wouldn’t mind donating.” He just put together a site real fast so you could donate $5 or $10 and you would get special rewards as that Patreon. It essentially expanded rapidly from there, so as a Patreon of, say our page, you can get extra behind the scenes bonuses, you can get discounts on March. We do live streams, there’s a discord chat you can do. But mostly people are just excited to be a part of something that they like, and that is the magic of Patreon. It’s a model of how it used to be in the Shakespeare days. That is how those plays got put on. It was just people who had exposable income. Exposable?

Josie: Disposable.

Lloyd: Disposable.

Josie: They would expose it out of their satchels.

Lloyd: Exactly. People just want to support and they want to feel like they’re a part of something. You live in Los Angeles for a long enough time, you forget that it’s not really the real world here, and people don’t have as much access to cool artsy stuff as we do sometimes. If you’re living in the middle of rural Colorado or Manchester England or anywhere, people want to connect and it’s a great website for that. That was long winded [Inaudible 00:08:53].

Josie: Yeah, well, it’s been fun. I’ve been behind the scenes since 2010 watching this thing grow and I’ve always been pushing you all to be accessible and relay, be present and I mean the show took off, the product of it is what got people so excited. But now I feel like you’re going to be able to show up not just in Patreon but in other places to really engage with your fans, family.

Lloyd: It feels good. I mean, you know how it’s frustrating for me that we can’t, we do the show that we do, we don’t really announce what we’re going to do, it’s a secret. A lot of YouTube channels, content creators, they can get people excited with the hype of what they’re about to do by showing them quick clips of them on set or quick clips of them in a costume. But for what we do it’s all secretive, so anything we do like that, is a leak. We are lessening that a little bit and giving people the option to take a peek into it and then, but we mark everything really clear like, hey, this is a spoiler, if you don’t want to know then don’t look at this. It is nice to be able to talk to them and get input from them. Be like, “What do you guys think about this matchup?” “What do you think about this lyric?” Or “Who are the beat makers you like right now?” All that stuff is really nice.

Josie: Every time I comment on something they’re like, are you the real Josie? I’m just like, “I don’t know.” No one will ever know. Patreon is cool. I’ve been thinking about it. A lot of podcasts have Patreons. The nice thing for you all is you already built up years and years of credibility and community and so they responded immediately and you weren’t just asking them to invest. All right, well let’s take out all social media and mobile and remember what it was like to be kids, where there was some technologies. What was your very first memory of any technology at all?

Lloyd: We had a Commodore four I think, it wasn’t 64, it was before that and it was the first video game we had. I remember it was a text video game, you had to type in the text of what you are doing. I lasted 11 minutes and I was back outside in the trees.

Josie: Maybe the average is four.

Lloyd: Yeah.

Josie: Four men.

Lloyd: It was type, I’m going to type, there’s no one even here. I remember that for a hot second. Then our neighbors got a Nintendo and that was, we were hooked on that. Then we got Nintendo and we got Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda and a wrestling game I remember, and that happened. Then that in terms of games and then I remember my dad owned a company, a water purification company and he got Apple computers really early, those really long skinny ones with the tiny green screens. I remember that and being like, “Look at this Microsoft paint, I can draw and stuff in here.” That was my first experience with any kind of technology that wasn’t a game I guess.

Josie: Yeah, video games come up a lot. The texting typing thing makes sense for today. You are not a fan of typing?

Lloyd: No. But I realize you and me just, ready player one and there’s all these references to all these early video games and they’re called texter games, where they had names for them where people just dove into those things. Again, I’m not really sure why, but it was a thing, not for me.

Josie: You and I try to play video game together once, it didn’t go very well.

Lloyd: No, you didn’t like it, but you should like the one I have now. It’s about Cowboys.

Josie: Yeah, it was a very traumatic video game, and I ended up hiding behind the couch. Long stories. Okay, so this special episode is also extra special because I put out a call for community questions and I got a few. These are questions we’re both going to answer and go from there, alright?

Lloyd: Sounds good.

Josie: This one-

Lloyd: Actually no, I prefer not to.

Josie: Yeah, let’s scrap them. Dante cut this out. Okay. I’m not surprised we got this question. How did you and Josie meet and what were your first impressions of each other? Do you want to flip for it, who is going to, anyone?

Lloyd: Yes, we will flip a coin.

Josie: No, you go. You are…

Lloyd: Okay, great. I was a pirate and I sailed to Josie’s home and stole her. No I’m just… I was touring, doing comedy shows at an Improv comedy group called MISSION IMPROVable, I believe in 2003.

Josie: Ding, ding, ding.

Lloyd: Yay. We came to Josie’s campus and she was on the campus activities board there and was a part of the group that brought us there and we just hit it off right away. We oftentimes went out to dinner or we would hang out with the students who brought us there and that happened and Josie and I got to talking and I got in her car when we drove to the restaurant. We talked a little bit more there and we just hit it off right away and that’s how we met. We actually have a picture of that very first night, which is really fun.

Josie: We’ll add those to the show notes.

Lloyd: Nice.

Josie: This was my last event that I put on in college, it was two months before I graduated to head off to grad school at South Dakota State and I did not want to do it. I wasn’t a fun at the time of this Improv troop. I wanted to bring a magician and our programming board was very democratic. We would all bring ideas to the table and vote on them and I was out voted so just a couple of months early, I put on this blown out prom, which was, to this day it was the bees knees at that campus. We didn’t call it a prom, a winter something. I had just come back from spring break so I was also just, I mean, I was all tan. That was just all like I’m in I’m college, I’m ready to box up and start to be done with right. Then this improv troop comes on my campus and this young boy in a sweater vest-

Lloyd: I still have that sweater vest.

Josie: … starts warming up on stage.

Lloyd: There’s a funny story about… I was with Pete, the guy makes rap battles with, we were on the same show together. That’s how him and I met and I used to do a lot of free styling and rapping back in Chicago as a part of a one man show that I would do. I always wanted to bring that to the MISSION IMPROVable show, because it was improv comedy, but nobody else could really rap. But Pete was a musician and we would rap sometimes at parties and stuff. We tried this one freestyle rap game at the show at your campus and it went so, so, and we never did it again. That’s the only time I’ve ever done a freestyle rap game in a MISSION IMPROVable show. I guess it was good enough,

Josie: But they do now.

Lloyd: They do now.

Josie: There’s a different version of it, but back then. We didn’t know any different. I don’t think anyone in Brookings South Dakota had ever seen improv comedy before. I’m sitting next to my friend Abby, and not only am I dying laughing, but I’m like, “I’m going to marry this guy.”

Lloyd: Didn’t you say you liked me even from the poster?

Josie: Yeah, it was back in the day when you’d physically get mailers of posters and there was iconic photo of you and the original owners.

Lloyd: It’s right there. I’m looking at it.

Josie: Yes. He’s pointing to something you all can’t see again.

Lloyd: It’s the picture of us.

Josie: We’ll add it in the show notes and he just caught my eye right away.

Lloyd: Hold on. I’m going to take this real fast.

Josie: That happens sometimes. We’re good.

Lloyd: Everybody relax. It’s still going.

Josie: [Inaudible 00:17:30] I was going to say something. We hit it off that night and then you called me a few days later and I honestly, I had already thought there’s no way this guy is going to call me. I was just in that period of my life where I was so-

Lloyd: [Cross talk 00:17:55] you thought I was going to go ghost you?

Josie: Ghost me. I’m an elusive, you’re a touring comedian. I had had my heart broke a lot that year and I was like, “All right, I just want to have fun,” and preparing to go to this next phase of my life. Then Epic Lloyd appears.

Lloyd: Well I had been single for three years or something and it was, I don’t know, my mom had died a year and a half later and earlier and I was sad. I was not sad, but meeting you was just, I was like, it felt so right for so many reasons and I was not going to let, at least not give it a chance because yeah. Playing that game with being single like, you call and then you pretend not to like each other that much and then you see who’s going to show their cards first or whatever. There wasn’t anything about you that was like that. That’s why I wrote that poem about you. It was about, I used to write a lot of poetry.

Josie: He did, he wrote me songs.

Lloyd: I did, I wrote her songs, just a couple of songs. Put them in the show notes. The whole poem was called mostly Josie. It was just about how she was very honest and upfront right away and it was very real right away. That was a big change for me because the dating scene in Chicago was weird. It was just, you just get beat up a lot. A little bit.

Josie: Well in 2003 we had AOL Instant Messenger, an MSN, hot mail stuff and phones and email, but we talked for hours and hours. The one time that we had this potential, are we doing this or not? Because we had this really deep spirituality conversation and then the next day you were like, “So are you still like in this?” I was like, “I think so.” Because we differed a little bit.

Lloyd: Yeah. I mean, I think-

Josie: In what we believed.

Lloyd: Yeah.

Josie: That’s all good.

Lloyd: But that made it interesting.

Josie: You all are getting all the goodies from us.

Lloyd: So many goodies.

Josie: Well, so that’s meeting, impressions and I think we’ve always been creative, but our careers now are based on creating. Another question is how does being two extremely creative individuals impact your relationships? Pros and cons people.

Lloyd: Put that a little bit closer to your mouth when [Inaudible 00:20:37]. There you go. Being two creative people, what are the pros and cons of that? I think the pros of it are that, I think we trust one another’s taste and we can go to one another for constructive criticism and we trust one another’s opinion about things, but we don’t feel as though we have to take it. I feel like I can disagree with people I respect, but if I don’t respect them, I don’t even bother to listen. I feel like you and I respect each other’s choices so that we can bounce ideas off each other and that’s great. I also think we understand the highs and lows that you go through as a creative person and how you get taxed in some ways about… Sometimes you just want the bathtub alone, you know what I mean? I think those are the pros and I think also we get each other’s humor. We’re both funny people and we laugh and we dance to the same tune a lot of the times.

Lloyd: It helps us understand one another’s priorities. Then the cons, I think is, sometimes sharing the same spotlight is, you need the same thing from one another. If you’re both temperamental, artsy, creative people, you both have a little, you have a fit one day. Sometimes you’re both unsteady in the same way and it’s hard to balance each other. Sometimes you’re a speaker and you go on campuses and you’ll go and you talk to these people and stuff and at the root of it that’s performing and it’s hard to share the spotlight sometimes, and be like, look at me, talk about all the stuff that I did. Okay, now talk about all that stuff you did. They’re the same thing. It’s not like you’re like, man, I sent this guy to prison today. This or that trial was awesome. Then we can talk about it or whatever. That’s sometimes the con of both being performing creative people in my opinion.

Josie: When we first met though, that was not the plan. I knew I was on the path to work on a college campus. It really wasn’t until, I mean one could say it was because of your creative journey, and entrepreneurial spirit rubs off on people around you. I really didn’t start till I really started blogging in 2013 and then the idea to speak evolved from it. I skirted around people encouraging me to even take improv classes at your theater because I was like, no, that’s Lloyd’s thing, I tune off [inaudible 00:23:41]. Then I was really good you guys. I was-

Lloyd: Yeah, solid. I mean, I was pretty dead set against, at the beginning of rap battles. I really didn’t want those two worlds to blend, to be honest, and we’ve talked about that. I think partially because it was very unknown to me. I saw some other family entertainers, which is just gives me the willies sometimes, when one person’s doing it because they’re in the family and they’re just doing it, but they really don’t want to be, or their kids are involved in a weird way. They didn’t have a choice about. It wasn’t the type of entertainment that I would want to watch. I obviously grow a lot, but I learned that it can, we can figure that out and do it our own way without being that way. I don’t think I could have done it then as much. It was nice to have gone through that arc.

Josie: Well, at the very beginning, even the YouTubers, we were surrounded with, we are the family vloggers or more like lifestyle. This is our life we’re documenting. It was hard not to think about, well how could we document this thing, me and you and Pete or whatever. It never seemed to fit, and I don’t regret any of that. It’s just interesting for sure. How the industry…

Lloyd: Well I was just holding on for dear life at that time. I feel like, you talk about YouTubers now and it’s just this term that everybody knows, but in 2010 and 2009, that wasn’t the case. I often say Epic Rap Battles of History were the rocks that a lot of learning curves smashed up against and we learned a lot. We learned a lot about getting, being in good deals, being in bad deals. We learned a lot about overworking and over exerting ourselves and all stuff that people have now 10 years worth of past creators to look upon as a model. At the time when we were first doing it, my perspective was, I don’t know what’s going on right here. I need to be completely focused on this job right now and trying to bring somebody from my family into it in a way that’s not part of this plan that I really don’t even have yet, is going to veer me off the course. Let’s just focus on, you go to school and I’m going to do this job and let’s not make them blend right now. That was, nine years ago.

Josie: It’s also interesting. Another question was, in what ways has your work been able to overlap? If we take rap battles aside, and so you are one of the owners of the Improv troupe that came to my campus called MISSION IMPROVable, they still tour today and they theater out in Santa Monica, and you all do shows on college campuses and Navy and this is not an advertisement, but that was always the original overlap for us, was serving colleges in entertainment education. I even from the get go is giving you notes about your real, your VHS tape that you would send campuses, because I was like, this was horrible. I didn’t want to hire you because of this, right. You all heard it and made some edits, right. Or these other shows that you’ve created, I feel that’s made sense completely for me to voice my thoughts about, but that’s been a cool overlap I think. Then I was the one to get you on literally every single social media platform other than YouTube. You were like, “Instagram, are you seriously Josie? I don’t want.” He did not want anything.

Lloyd: That’s my favorite one now.

Josie: I know, right?

Lloyd: I mean it’s-

Josie: I get it.

Lloyd: I feel like the question of how do we overlap is almost like, how do we not, I confer with you on almost every video, I’m asking you to look at, at first. I’m always using you as a… If I have to pitch something to Pete, I’ll be like, well, Josie laughed at this.

Josie: What! Don’t do that.

Lloyd: He does the same thing with Kristen. It’s like you guys are a pulse of a very raw nerve that we’re both connected to-

Josie: We’ll be honest with you.

Lloyd: Yeah, and it’s a barometer. It’s a barometer of what I think is funny. If it made you laugh, that’s good. If it didn’t, if you had a concern about it, it didn’t. I think it overlaps in different ways. Everything from that to, I mean, what do I wear at this award show? What do you wear at this engagement that you have? All this type of things, I feel like overlaps everywhere.

Josie: Yeah, we are just [inaudible 00:29:02]. I think a pro of us being creators is we get why you might all of a sudden get this flash of inspiration and disappear in your studio for three hours. That if anything, obviously if we had plans that’d be a bummer. But if not, I’m excited for you because I know what that saying yesterday, I finally had this, something that came through and I was like, “I’ve got to hold onto this and then get this edits to chapter out.” I think we get that or that might cause some problems.

Lloyd: No, I think that it’s nice to know how somebody else feels in those moments.

Josie: I’m not doing this to be a trickster. Everyone asks me this all the time, “When does Josie get in another ERB video?” Maybe just answer or talk about the one video I was in and how that came about.

Lloyd: I mean, the video that you were in was David Copperfield versus Harry Houdini, and it was… Harry Houdini’s wife was integral in his career, she was part of the business plan. She would be in the box. She was the woman that he would sign in half and all of these things and so it was, and also you had the look of her, so it was a perfect fit. It has always been something that we’d want to do. It is difficult to get people who aren’t rappers to do the videos. Every time we try and think it’s going to work, you forget that, this is what we do. We’ve been doing this a long time, and not everybody can rap like this and we’re not trying to brag or whatever. Then on top of that, then you have to play a character. You’re like, okay, now you got to do that same rap in a British accent and you have to be 75. It’s never that I don’t want you to be in the rap battle or be in a battle. It’s always, how can we make this fit and make you look great. I think you’ll make another appearance someday soon.

Josie: I’m in.

Lloyd: Maybe checkering.

Josie: I’m in behind the scenes most of the time trying to stay behind the scenes. Some of my favorite battles obviously are ones with women. They’re not raw like [inaudible 00:31:42], Hannah and Grace. You all coach there, they’re obviously performers, but those were all really fun. My favorite battle is Easter Bunny versus Genghis Khan. It’s super fun. That’s another question you get asked every single time and I’m not going to ask you because people can go look that up.

Lloyd: Josie is in a lot of other music videos of mine though. She’s in maybe four. You’re in-

Josie: Probably once, yeah.

Lloyd: You’re in, Holding The Seams Together; you’re in Ain’t Got No Watch, which people love. I do music also, original music, EPIC LLOYD DOT COM. I do and it’s actually one of the really nice benefits of doing a big project on YouTube, I get the freedom to do little things on the side. You’ve been in those two and I know you’ve been in more, I just can’t think of right now.

Josie: Pawn.

Lloyd: Yeah. Pawn, that was the first one I ever did.

Josie: Yeah, I’m around. Okay. Any questions you want to ask me about creators in love that the community didn’t ask before we really get talking about rap battles more?

Lloyd: Sure. How do you feel about creators who make their living off of showing their families to the world? The whole family.

Josie: I think at the beginning folks that we would hang out with a lot that were YouTube vlogger families, really were just doing things day in the life. They weren’t doing it for like, we got to do this thing for the algorithm or we need to do this prank or I’m going to lie to my kid and tell them somebody died. Now we’re seeing literally unethical stuff that parents are doing to their kids that are, the code of ethics is, “Do no harm.” Right now I think obviously society is trying to regulate them. I do think there’s been some parents that have gotten in trouble for, I think there is maybe we can find that article-

Lloyd: The kids taken away.

Josie: Yeah, good, right.

Lloyd: Yeah, good.

Josie: It was always intent. Their intent wasn’t to… I do think there are families that are, that have a good message to spread and I think what I wish they would document more, and maybe they do these at things like VidCon is I think the parents or whatever you define yourself, it’s literally getting consent along the whole process and explaining it to a kid. If they don’t want to show up in a video or if they don’t want to show up at all, that needs to be a huge part of conversation with… We don’t have kids, I don’t have to ask our dog if he wants to be in Instagram story, but one woman, she’s a vice president and she’s got a young daughter and she’s like, “I ask her every single time.” Not only can I take your photo, but especially can I post it? Do you want to see it? How do you want us to respond to this? Because that’s also role modeling and teaching them when they do have their own Instagram, what that could look like. Anyway, that’s my thoughts.

Lloyd: I feel like it’s one of the things that the… What do they call it? The, can’t think of the word. The movie business, the TV business, the classic, before there was online entertainment, there’s just TV and film and they have a lot longer history, right, 100, 200 years. They do that a lot better than digital right now in terms of if you have a child onset, there’s a certain amount of hours he can work, there’s going to be a teacher there. There’s all these regulations, their money has to go to the right place. Traditional media sources say traditional does it a lot better now. If you could have a YouTube page or an Instagram page where your two year old son is the main moneymaker of that because of his face-

Josie: With the unboxing videos.

Lloyd: Yeah. If that kid decides one day-

Josie: That’s wild to me.

Lloyd: … that he doesn’t want to do that anymore, his parents, that could ruin them and they’re making decisions based off of that-

Josie: Yeah, that’s interesting.

Lloyd: … that I think that we should change.

Josie: It’s just such a wild trend. Who knew kids would really be so excited just to watch a toy being opened?

Lloyd: Is that super sad because some kids just don’t have any toys.

Josie: No, I do think-

Lloyd: I’ll just watch somebody else open a toy.

Josie: People listening, you can correct me in what I’m hearing is just kids with plenty of, for what they need. Just enjoy it. I don’t know, really Interesting stuff. Okay. We’re staying on YouTube, we’re staying on the internet and relationships. The same day I met you in 2003 is the same day that I met Pete Shukoff, who is the co-creator with you of Epic Rap Battles Of History. What does it really mean to be co-creators of a project?

Lloyd: That’s a good question. It means we’re business partners. Is a really good way to think of it. Where we came up with the idea together and we battle the deck together and we’re almost like co-parents of it. We’ve watched it grow and we both had different responsibilities and jobs and we went through our status change and rub heads and knocked elbows. I don’t know if those either make sense, but it means that we’re the co founders, we’re the two guys, the two faces of it, and we have a big great team that we work with. Not big, but there’s every step of the way, there has been people that we would not have been able to do the show without them, but we’ve been the two that the buck has stopped with. That’s what it means.

Josie: So Pete came out here, it had to be 2008, 2009 to LA. Everyone makes the pilgrimage at some point like Chicago or East coast or whatever. Just like you had been doing, taking up jobs, I think he was a bartender, but he also was just a talented musician that toured the world, but just in really gritty corner armpit bars and singing songs that-

Lloyd: Dirty songs.

Josie: Dirty songs. He was the Adam Sandler of Showtime, maybe. Of back in the day show time, I don’t know.

Lloyd: No, he would just play bar shows. He’s the type of guy that, he’s going to do what he needs to do to get the crowd going. He was great at that and he… In a drunken bar, people like little dirty songs and he would do covers and he would tour and grind it out just like a lot of other people.

Josie: I know college campus comedy shows get a bad rap, right? But when you do want to hire a friend that has talent, but you know that they do play, like you said, dirty. I hired him for one of his first gigs at a campus I was working at and I had to have that dance of, okay, how can we make this work and you not get me fired? I brought him back multiple times because… And it was at a bar. It was at the student bar and-

Lloyd: The Lions Den?

Josie: No, the loft. Students loved him. He was-

Lloyd: Yeah, he always says that, that’s the thing that made it him able to move here. College gigs are sometimes awful, sometimes great, but usually good or decent money. Especially if you’re a comic, if you’re touring the clubs, unless you’re a headliner or you really got a sweet gig someplace, you’re not going to make a lot of money. But college gigs are a decent paycheck and when you’re moving from Chicago to LA, you got to have a little nest egg. That was the thing that, you giving him that job was the thing that made him able to move here.

Josie: He owes me big time.

Lloyd: Huge.

Josie: I can’t believe he didn’t name his first child after me. I remember you all having a conversation early on at [Inaudible 00:41:53], about this concept of putting characters against each other, rapping, dressing up, recording it. Pete had already been on YouTube doing these pictures songs and vlogs and whatever. What did you think the original intent was of rap battle at his birth? Why did you do it? Did you think it was just going to be funny? Was it to inform people about these characters? Then what has it turned into today?… It does that all the time.

Lloyd: Yeah. I’m just nervous. I didn’t have any preconceived notions about what it was going to be or what it should be or why we were doing it. I was a young, hungry actor, rapper, raptor, living in Los Angeles and Pete was one of the guys that I would hang out with anyway. We would make little songs together and stuff. There’s a lot of guys in MISSION IMPROVable and girls and they are so many now that it would be impossible to hang out with all of them, but Pete and I always kicked it off and hit it off. We were hanging out anyway and then every once in a while when I would start going over to his house, he would be showing me these videos, “Check this guy out [inaudible 00:43:15], look at this, look at all these views he’s getting and these people are making money doing this.” I’m like, “What is this?” I did have a little inkling of that and then I started seeing him do these things and he’s doing these vlogs…

I got an email, I was working at West side eclectic at the time. I got an email from the fine brothers looking for talent at this little company that they were called The Station, which ended up turning into Maker. I sent them Pete and he started making little songs over there, then he met [00:43:41] Danny Zappin and that got his channel going, but the rap battles, I was doing a freestyle rap show at the comedy club and there was a segment called celebrity rap battle. Pete wasn’t even in that show. Zach and I were in it. Zach is one of the writers that we do have, Zach Sherwin. We would just get suggestions from the audience and then be like Shia LaBeouf versus Justin Bieber and then we’d freestyle a battle against each other. Pete saw that, and he was bubbling up this channel and was like, let me ask my people who watch my videos every week to tell us who to have battle rap each other. I think it could be a cool video.

That was all, that was it. It was just a kernel. It wasn’t like, and then we’ll do this and then it’ll be this and then it will be that. None of that. It was just, let’s just throw a bunch of nets out there and see what sticks and hopefully one of them will. The turning point for me was when I got the first cut of the first edit back. It was immediately the best thing I’d ever done. I have to owe a lot of that to Dave McCary, who was our first director and main editor and he’s at SNL now. He’s made a movie and he was just a huge talent, but it was immediately the first… The first thing I saw was immediately the best thing that I was like, “This is really good.” The thing that defines a viral video for us is if I show you a video, does it raise my status? Does it make me cool or does it make me, you know what I mean? If then you want to show somebody else because it’ll make you a little bit cooler, you know what I mean? I felt like I wanted to show everybody that video. All my friends, everybody, “Just look at it this, Holy crap.” I came home and showed you.

That’s how it started. I think that was a long way around it and what it is now, now it’s much bigger production. It’s movie making a little bit, it’s music video making, but we’re shooting on location and we’re shooting makeup and we’re shooting practicalities and we have all these cameras and stuff. It’s much bigger now, but there’s no bigger purpose to it other than let’s just make killer videos. That’s what I really learned from Pete, is, I’m a multitasker, I got a lot of balls in the air, I know a lot of people, I’ve got a lot of projects going on a long time and that’s good. But Pete has the ability to laser focus on things, which means he says no to a lot of things that you should probably say yes to. A lot of people would, but he’s very skilled at being able to put the most important thing first and keeping it first. It doesn’t matter about the Patreon, it doesn’t matter about the Twitter page, It doesn’t matter about the Facebook page, if this video isn’t an A plus, none of that exists. This has to be first. That’s really what it’s all about now. After this break we’ve taken and we have all these pieces in place that we’ve been spending time on. Now we’re really ratcheting back to making these videos, make people feel awesome inside when they see them. That’s the fire right now.

Josie: Last month or two months, whenever you listen to this, in March, we did this talk called Epic rap battles of hired history where you were a dropout and I was a degree seeker because that’s true. We talked about how rap battles are educational, that seventh grade teachers use them and philosophy professors and I’m assuming you all didn’t think the intent right away was that they would be used in that educational manner even though the caliber was always, every single thing we say is going to be on point, correct or whatever. The other thing with the community too is I don’t think you… I feel like you didn’t go in saying, “This is going to go viral, we want to be digital influencers, we want to get brand.” You just wanted to make something really good, so it’s pretty cool to hear now that you want to make something that makes people feel good.

Lloyd: Educational music was whack to me. I always wanted to just be a real rapper. The only difference between the rap battles and irregular battle rap, when we were making them, in my opinion was you just understand the jokes a little bit better because you know the characters. I never wanted it to be like schoolhouse rock, that was so lame to me. I really am that generation. The generation that came up now is nerds win man. It’s cool to be in… I’m so glad for that, but that is not from where I came from. Where I came from, you try to be tough. You try to be like a hard… I came up with the Wu Tang clan and all that stuff. I never wanted our raps to be [inaudible 00:49:02], and I still don’t. I don’t get the nerdy stuff, we curse, I want to say things that hurt your feelings, I want to insult people, I want to be raunchy and raw and that I think is… Exactly that thing is what made the education and stick because you could feel, you could smell that on the project.

Josie: It is authentic?

Lloyd: Yeah, but it was cool. It wasn’t like if we were trying to be like, “Okay kids, here’s what Henry the eighth did.” No one wants to hear that. They wanted to hear him rip into Hillary Clinton or something. It became the counterculture was, ended up being educational by just happenstance.

Josie: It was real and raw and obviously well received in that format.

Lloyd: Yeah.

Josie: You have been banned in some countries.

Lloyd: Yes.

Josie: We took those off of the vacation list [inaudible 00:50:06].

Lloyd: That was just what made us more popular though. As soon as we got banned, we got way more popular. I mean that’s the internet, right? That’s how it works.

Josie: There still was, you still abided by, do no harm. It wasn’t like you harmed anyone and that was the reason why you were banned. It was just what you said or who the character was or whatever. They didn’t like the content.

Lloyd: Yeah. I mean, I can tell you.

Josie: No.

Lloyd: Okay.

Josie: Well, include it in the show notes. Part of the impetus for the season coming back, you’re doing a Patreon, you’ve reformatted your team, there’s been an evolution of the business of rap battles and now you are independent. Going forward, what does that really mean? What is your five year plan? I think of Rap Battles Of History.

Lloyd: Don’t have a five year plan. Don’t have a five month plan. We have a five day plan.

Josie: That is not true. You know what this next year is.

Lloyd: I mean, the difference between us and being fully independent means everybody who works for us works just for us, which is great. These are pros. We don’t have to ask permission. There is a lot less red tape. There’s a lot less regulations. Then on the other side of that is everything’s on us. We have to write all the checks, we have to pay everybody… Back in our old days it was, we didn’t really think about that, we just did and spent and did whatever, and now we really have to be cognizant of the bottom line and that’s I think a good thing for us. We’re learning to work within those constraints and still make great content. I think the five year plan, if you asked me and Pete, that’d be two different answers really. That’s probably something we should sit down and hush out.

Josie: Let’s get him on the podcast. He’s coming over in a little bit to watch game of Thrones. I will bring it up.

Lloyd: I mean I would like for us to become a cool little nimble, edgy, artsy production company that has a couple of flagships shows starting up, and is able to exist on its own and put out good content that we like and then fold that into a live touring aspect so we can do some traveling and have a schedule where we’re on set for six months, on the road for three, off for three, something like that. Some pace that works with your schedule, and we’ve talked about this.

Josie: Where can I put in suggestions for the touring locations?

Lloyd: Australia.

Josie: That’s awesome. This year your intent is to release monthly starting on April 20th and then May 5th-

Lloyd: Fourth.

Josie: May the fourth be with you.

Lloyd: Is it on May fourth? Is it?

Josie: Fun.

Lloyd: It might be the fourth of the fifth.

Josie: Or the fifth. There’s still the rollover and then you’re releasing-

Lloyd: Yea it’s May fourth.

Josie: That’ll be fun. May the fourth be with you. Then you’re releasing monthly for the rest of the year?

Lloyd: Yeah. Through to December. That’s what, nine battles I think. That’ll be a good season.

Josie: You talked a lot about what Pete gives to the project. Laser focus, can say no. What is it that no one else, but you has given to this project? I mean, not saying like nobody else could do it, but co-creators, what is that thing that folks could know that’s a Lloyd stamp on what you give?

Lloyd: I can’t tell. I don’t know.

Josie: Stop.

Lloyd: That’s a hard question. I’d like to think that-

Josie: Do you want me to answer?

Lloyd: Yeah. You tell me.

Josie: Okay. My answer is I think you bring the people to life in the project. Supervision is hard and that’s not what you all call it in your team, but almost everyone that works there at least that’s worked there for a long time, you have found along the way and have just formed this family and retain them and you know good talent and you really celebrate it and celebrate the person. I think that’s a huge piece because you see the outward face of what rap battles is, but there’s so much behind the scenes of it, like really good people. I think that’s something that you give. I think you’re always coming up with ideas, but you get your ego mostly out of the way if they don’t have it.

Lloyd: Have to, learned that early.

Josie: [Cross talk 00:55:21] And then you’re writing. We wrote a rap battle for our talk and I mean I’ve known you’re a writer. I have known you’ve been writing rap battles, I’ve seen these performed, but you just would curve yourself on the fly, like a line. I’m like, “How did that come out of you?” I was like, “That’s amazing.” it’s not improv’d. It’s like…

Lloyd: Go on.

Josie: Seeker of that sauce, is just, I’m so glad you have this outlet that that can be put to use.

Lloyd: That’s nice to hear. Thanks babe. I call my wife babe, by the way, doc. Thanks Dr. Josie Alquist. I think maybe that’s plenty.

Josie: Yeah, but just curious.

Lloyd: I also have a large mouth, I have a big loud mouth. I do think some of the improv training and some of the improv performance stuff helped with big over the top characters on camera. I would always get told, and I’ve never booked a commercial. Auditioned maybe a thousand times and they’re always like, bring it down, bring it down. You’ve got to ratchet it down. You got to be more subtle. I’m like, “Subtle is not my strong point you all.” Finally, I was able to do giant German accents and over the top wrestling characters and it just really worked. That character acting I think helps to-

Josie: What did your dad say about your head or your face is very…

Lloyd: He said it’s perfect for wigs. It’s almost like a bastardization of like, “You’ve got a face for radio kid.”

Josie: You’ve got a head to cover up.

Lloyd: Yeah. He’s like, “You really disappeared into those costumes.” I’m like, “Are you happy about that?”

Josie: Sometimes, yeah. People, you get recognized, but sometimes you may not just because you get so transformed in a character. It’s fun to see you get recognized. I enjoy it. People are like, “Does it bother you?” I was like, “No, that’s what he wants.” Of course that’s what I want to see. Just stay some distance.

Lloyd: Just back off.

Josie: This is my man. I have a few wrap up questions. How are you doing?

Lloyd: I’m great.

Josie: What are other projects you’ve got going on that we should know about?

Lloyd: I mean, the West side comedy theater is my home. It’s my third place. It’s the community that I love here in Los Angeles. It’s a comedy theater that I started with my friends. It’s my family there and that’s my boat. I’ll always tinker with it. I’ll always hang out on it. I’ll always go there when I’m feeling down or blue and if I have an idea that I want to try to throw up on the stage, I have that freedom. It’s the best. That’s always going to be there. Outside of that right now I don’t have too many other creative projects going on. Do I?

Josie: You have a podcast every Wednesday.

Lloyd: I have a podcast. That’s true. Here’s the thing about the podcast, and this is a good thing is its just worked into my life now and it doesn’t feel, it’s something I just do every week, like karate class. I have a podcast called Kings of influence and it’s every Wednesday at noon. I do it with my friend Ray William Johnson, who’s another content creator, a YouTuber and a Facebook guy. We talk about internet hot topics, and we chop it up about sometimes politics, sometimes the latest Kardashian thing. The topics can be light, but then we’ll dive deep every once in a while and it’s fun. That’s every Wednesday, and we do it as a live stream on YouTube and then upload the video live stream and then make it a podcast from the audio, which is cool. What I’ve learned about podcasting is that it’s good to try to use things in multiple fashions, but only record them once. If you can do a live stream, YouTube as a tool on the back where you can do a live stream, but then it converts it and records it so it’s a video right there, but then you can also make edits inside of it and upload those edits as their own separate videos. You can take an hour long video and then right within the software of YouTube, chop it up into five, 10 minute videos and upload them all separately and you’re good to go.

Josie: Micro content?

Lloyd: Yeah, that was a nice way to do podcasts for us.

Josie: [inaudible 01:00:14] talking about co-creators is definitely a genius and nerd of the internet and just loves figuring it out. It’s changed and he’s just into figuring out what that next evolution is going to be.

Lloyd: Yes. He’s great at that.

Josie: Where can people find you to connect?

Lloyd: You can find me on I have my own YouTube page, it’s I have an Instagram page. I think Instagram is my favorite of the platforms. It’s @theepiclloyd, because some 12 year old has Epic Lloyd- @theepiclloyd. If you want to support the channel, we have a Patreon page, it’s and it’s a really cool… I would recommend going to check it out just to check it out. I think it’s going to be massive. I think it’s going to change the face of digital media in the next five years. Mostly because it’s artists facing and it lets artists work for their fans rather than for an algorithm or for the brands that are buying ads against their art. I’d recommend checking that out.

Josie: You’re on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. I think your LinkedIn is Ahlquist, Lloyd, we need to update that.

Lloyd: Yeah.

Josie: You may not need a LinkedIn.

Lloyd: Hopefully I don’t.

Josie: Okay. Two questions I end every interview with and it gets real deep, so grab the tissues.

Lloyd: Okay.

Josie: Just kidding. Okay. If you knew your next post on your favorite application right now, which is on Instagram is going to be your last, what would you want it to be about?

Lloyd: If I knew it was going to be my last post, I mean you and me, I guess it would just be family. Something about people I love and something about, hey, thanks so much Instagram, you’ve been great. So sorry your business has gone under, I don’t know. It would be a nice bittersweet melancholic sign off, something proper and classic like how Jim Henson, I don’t know, something that, Kermit the frog, that feeling, It would be, I’m a comic, but I’m also not only a comic and I like those sentimental moments too. It’d be something with you and the dogs and fun.

Josie: I appreciate that as a comic, you’re not always a comic, you’re funny. There’s a melancholy business entrepreneur side to you. You’re not always giving me bits. For some people the theater, the stand-ups, they’re like, I’m giving you bits right now.

Lloyd: Yeah, you can feel it.

Josie: You’re multilayered. That’s good. Well, so for now, what do you want it to matter that you’re even on these platforms? When someone goes to your Instagram page or to rap battles, what do you hope that it’s actually impacting the world?

Lloyd: I’m an improviser. That’s where I came up and the guru of improv is this guy named Del Close. His whole philosophy was that the audience is at the pleasure of the performers and they’re just lucky to be there watching you. Even though he was the guru and all that stuff, I always thought that was BS. I as a performer and as an entertainer feel I’m here to serve the audience in a way and bring them joy or bring them feelings and bring some change to them. That feeling of giving that to them is what I thirst for. It’s not like I’m forcing myself to feel that way. I actually get energized by that. I think that if I was remembered or known as someone who brought a bunch of joy to people’s lives or made them think, “Hey man,” and this has happened to me, it’s the best things ever. It’s like, “Hey man, that song you wrote, I listened to that song when I was in the hospital for six months after a car wreck, or my buddy died, or dude, I played your song, I was an American Ninja and I played your song as my run-out music.” I get these messages and that is massive for me that I can have an effect on people. I want to effect people and bring some synergy between us and to as many people as I can. I think that is why I want to create.

Josie: From the very first day that I met you, I knew there was definitely talent, that you had potential. It’s a pretty wild way to meet, your future partner or husband, is seeing them on stage and doing their craft that they love. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love. I knew you and Pete even though I had no concepts, it wasn’t like I was like, “Who should I give my phone number to, Lloyd or Pete?” There was none of that. There was just like these two, and there were many talented improvers on that stage. But there was always something about the two of you. Maybe it was because you did a couple of scenes together, but I was like, whatever goals they have, if it is in performance, they could be very successful. It’s been really cool to see it all come to life and…

Lloyd: Well, I don’t think that I ever would be here without you here. It’s ours, not just mine. There, whether you like it or not-

Josie: Got half of it.

Lloyd: Yeah.

Josie: A half of the hustle there. Well, I’m so excited that you all are back in season and that it feels like it’s you all are at a really good space for it, both in the business and with your community and how you’re creating. As a fellow creator, having all those things in place, I know how important it is and I get so much energy from your success. It fuels mine, so it’s a really exciting time in our lives. I’m really pumped to get you on the podcast.

Lloyd: Yeah, this has been cool. We have to do this again. Check out our future podcast. Dinner for four, double date?

Josie: Double date. We have a number of podcasting ideas.

Lloyd: Double date, no kids. [inaudible 01:07:22].

Josie: I don’t know. Do you all want to hear us in a full length podcast?

Lloyd: We know a lot of people.

Josie: We have the equipment.

Lloyd: We do. You don’t really need that much. You can just show up with a little mic. We did that at Josie’s birthday the other night. We had a cookout and then we’d just-

Josie: Pass the mic, that was fun.

Lloyd: … pass the mic around.

Josie: That was really fun.

Lloyd: You had some good questions.

Josie: I put people on the hot seat.

Lloyd: Yeah, you did.

Josie: Well, thanks for coming on here. I really appreciate it. I love you and all of your support, and I definitely have ideas of characters that I could play in the back far ground background of a rap battle.

Lloyd: You are not… You are in front.

Josie: Front!

Lloyd: Cool. Love you too babe.

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