A merry McElroy Christmas

December 22, 2018
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Travis, from right, and Teresa McElroy host their podcast "Shmanners" during last year's Candlenights. This year's event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 22.

HUNTINGTON — While most of the holiday concerts, recitals and parties have come and gone, there’s still room in the inn for one more festivus.

It is time to for some good-time family holiday shenanigans right in the heart of Huntington.

For the fifth straight year, the brothers McElroy — Justin, Travis and Griffin — are teaming up to bring their popular comedy podcast “My Brother, My Brother and Me” home to be taped in front of a live audience during the holiday season.

The Saturday, Dec. 22, comedy show at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington’s City Hall sold out in a record two minutes. Special guests, “Shmanners” with Travis and his wife Teresa, “Sawbones” with Justin and his wife Sydnee Smirl McElroy, and “Still Buffering,” with the Smirl sisters: Sydnee, Teylor and Rileigh. All proceeds from this show go to Recovery Point of West Virginia (https://www.recoverypointwv.org/).

Usually set near the winter solstice, the Candlenights is a made-up holiday that in some ways embodies what “MBMBaM” is truly about — finding your family, whoever they are, and loving them for who they are, said Justin McElroy while explaining the Candlenights origin.

While folks come to share a whole lot of laughs and celebrate the madeup holiday with the McElroy and Smirl families, they are also coming to give in support of several nonprofits in and around the Tri-State.

In 2016, Candlenights raised more than $12,000 for Recovery Point.

In 2017, they raised more than $39,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia through the show and an additional fundraising effort. Based out of Charleston, that chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters was

reeling in 2017 after a donor in Raleigh County pulled $80,000 in local funding in a protest against the program after it accepted a $20,000 national grant to help staff address LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues impacting any of the children in their programs.

As an added amount of fundraising impact, in 2017 and again this year, Rileigh Smirl, a freshman Yeager Scholar at Marshall, who is one of the stars of “Still Buffering” a podcast with her sisters, Sydnee and Teylor, started the Candlenights Star campaign. This year, the Candlenights Star campaign is back, raising money for the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia. Folks who donate $5 or more to that campaign, get their name on the Candlenights 2018 stage.

That campaign online at https://www.gofundme.com/be-a-candlenights-2018-star has already raised nearly $13,000 of its $15,000 goal.

To add to that one-night of Christmas giving from the show, the fans of “My Brother, My Brother and Me,” have formed up a special group, “MBMBaM Angels,” which have in the past few years as a group donated and filled all of the Empty Stockings requests gathered by Information and Referral and printed each holiday in The Herald-Dispatch.

Justin McElroy, who worked for a few years as a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch before launching his podcast career, said he is overwhelmed by the kindness of their friends around the world caring and giving so deep for those in need here in the Tri-State.

“I almost feel like I’m out of words at this point,” McElroy said. “They are amazing. they come through for us in our area Every single year and I’m so grateful.”

The McElroy brothers — Justin (who lives in Huntington), Travis (who lives in Cincinnati) and Griffin (who lives in Austin, Texas) — record the live Candlenights show as a way to give back at the holidays to Huntington as well as a chance to bring their fans from across the country — and even around the world — to Huntington, which they frequently mention on their weekly comedy podcast which has taped 438 episodes and is one of the longest-running podcasts in the world.

Even in their first year of Candlenights, back in 2014, the “MBMBaM” live taping drew a sold-out crowd of 600 people from 28 states, Canada, Switzerland and the U.K.

“There is little that means more to me than being able to bring people in from all over the world and showing them our home,” said Justin McElroy, the eldest brother and originator of the show that averages more than 5 million downloads a month, and that sells out theaters around the country.

Although the brothers have sold out shows all over the U.S. this year with both “MBMBaM” as well as their other popular podcasts such as “The Adventure Zone,” Candlenights is one of the toughest shows of the year since the annual Christmastime show is a more family-friendly version of the pod-cast, which dispenses tongue-in-cheek, faux advice as the brothers attempt to solve every question, query and quandary posed by listeners. From ghost horses to Garfield fetishes, no topic is too complex for their insight.

“It is also the most stressful show we do because we’re not allowed to swear,” Justin McElroy said.

As has been the case in the past couple of years, Justin will be doing double-duty as he and his wife Sydnee will be recording an episode of their podcast, “Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine.”

This year, the couple also transformed that podcast — the No. 1 medical podcast on the planet into a best-selling book, “The Sawbones Book: The Hilarious, Horrifying Road to Modern Medicine.”

Sydnee, who is a family physician in Huntington, said she loves the local show as it gives some of their friends and family a chance to see what the podcast is all about.

“I love it because one, a lot of our friends and family, can come,” Sydnee said of Candlenights. “Some of my friends and colleagues, they listen some and know some about the shows but not exactly what we do. They will come to Candlenights. It has been really cool to get to show people this is what we do. This is what this is. The bigger thing is bringing all of these people who are fans of the show into Huntington. It is so rewarding and so much fun to show them. This is Huntington. For some people this is the United States — this is the first place they have been to in this country.”

The other two McElroy/Smirl family podcasts on the bill Saturday night for Candlenights includes “Shmanners,” the weekly etiquette podcast from the husband and wife team of Travis McElroy and wife Teresa McElroy. Go online at https://www.themcelroy.family/shmanners to hear more.

And in addition to “Sawbones,” Sydnee will also be teaming up with her two sisters, Teylor, and Rileigh, to tape a live episode of their comedy podcast about all things sisters. Go online at https://www.themcelroy.family/StillBuffering to hear more of that podcast and read more about it.

Justin said it feels great to have so many fans here in Huntington checking out some of the many places they have name dropped on the show like Jolly Pirate Donuts.

“I do like it a lot, it is like my own mini Dave Trippin’ where I tell people here is the good stuff to go do, go to these restaurants,” McElroy said of posting great places for their fans to check out. “Honestly, even in the time we have been doing the show that has gotten so much easier to do because there is a whole list of good things. Sometimes when people ask me what to do I struggle but if you ask me where to eat, I have got you.”

Go online at https://www.themcelroy.family/ for more information about the McElroy shows.

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