Peter Shukoff (a.k.a. Nice Peter) and Lloyd Ahlquist (a.k.a. EpicLLOYD) test the boundaries of time with their YouTube series, “Epic Rap Battles of History,” in which the two comedians stage unlikely duets between historical figures and pop culture icons like Babe Ruth versus Captain Kirk. In the final installment of our three-part interview, Peter and Lloyd explain their creative process, what they’re working on for Season 3, and how they are able to make a living on YouTube.
What’s the hardest part about portraying these different characters?
Lloyd: For me, Babe Ruth ended up being really hard. There are a lot of pictures of him and there are some radio recordings, but he’s not a classic voice outside of his face and his looks…That was kind of hard. Or, on the other side of that, Captain Kirk is such a huge character, that people are going to be judging you based on your impression of him. I watched [comedian] Kevin Pollak over and over and over again — his impression of Captain Kirk was so great. I think when it’s really solid or really vague, those two extremes are the hardest part for me.
Peter: The hardest part for me is how much it will affect my week. We really jump into these people and we learn everything we possibly can about them. It’s interesting that Lloyd mentioned Babe Ruth. I had a tough time with Lance Armstrong. His story is kind of troubling and his personality is really aggressive. I’m in the recording studio, just like, getting angry and carrying this character around – it’s an interesting switch every two weeks to jump into a different mindset.
Can you give me a preview of what’s coming up for the next season?
Peter: There will be 12 more rap battles. Hm…what can I say? We know that there are going to be some special guests and that we are going to return to our roots by doing awesome characters from history. There’s a fan forum that sprung up separate from us where people really discuss these videos in depth, and we’re going on there and joining in their conversation a little bit to see…from the audience itself on what to do for this next season and where to go with it. We don’t know yet. All this summer is our time to creatively stew. Once we hit September, it’s going to be an all-out sprint.
Our readers ask us all the time, how do you make a living on YouTube?
Peter: Anytime somebody watches something, advertisers are interested. YouTube did a really smart, innovative thing by integrating ads into their platform. Every time you watch that 15-second ad before one of our videos, you’re supporting what we do. We’re able to do it well enough to get enough views that it supports the project…we’re able to make a good, honest living that we can keep track of and feel good about. We know that it comes from real people. There’s no one dumping cash into us. The audience supports what we do by watching our videos, buying our songs, and buying our t-shirts.