Taking YouTube Fun on the Road: An Interview with Markiplier’s ‘You’re Welcome Tour’

Mark Fischbach, aka Markiplier, has pretty much become a household name when it comes to YouTube, being one of the most prominent faces on the platform along with his friends Bob Muyskens (Muyskerm), Wade Barnes (LordMinion777), Tyler Schied (Apocalypto_12), and Ethan Nestor (CrankGameplays). The five of them came together in the spring of 2017 to put together an interactive improv tour called the “You’re Welcome Tour” in which they could all showcase their talents and bring a part of that YouTube experience to a live stage, while also making it interactive for their adoring fans to take part in.

The group passed through my neck of the woods a couple weeks ago, and I got the chance to sit down with them and talk about their experiences in making the show and actually hitting the road as a group, before they trek off to Europe in February.


BC: What made you want to do a tour? Where did the idea come from and eventually build into what it is today?

Mark: It was a desire of mine originally, I think. I was talking with some of my team last year. I was like, “I want to do something with my friends — something big.” Everyone was doing tours, but I wanted to do something that was more substantial than just a meet-and-greet. So I called people up and was like, “You wanna do a tour?”

At first we had no idea what we were going to do, but then I thought the best idea would be to fly Bob and Wade out because Tyler and Ethan were already in Los Angeles at the time, so fly them out and we could just all spend a week kind of pow-wowing what the show could possibly be about. I think before that we had an improv training camp before we did the actual tour prep.

Wade: We had a week where we went out there and we filmed other random videos while we talked about what the show could be. Then we came back out and did the improv tour planning all at once.

Mark: That was it. A lot of stealing time where we could, but eventually it led to ideas starting to form and take shape, and then we got a production company and went off.


How did you end up deciding on a combination of pre-planned bits and improv?

Bob: That process was kind of interesting because [of] the big week where we went out and did improv and took intensive improv classes together and learned how to work as a group and try to work with Swani in putting together an actual plan for the show. I think it started with [Mark] having an idea for a show where it was choose-your-own-adventure sort of thing that he envisioned and started working on that.

I don’t remember how it all collectively played out, but at some point, we were like, “I don’t know if this idea is working.” There were a couple of nights where we started talking about how this is way more complicated than we have the talent or knowledge about production to pull off. So it was like “Okay, now we have nothing. We want to do improv comedy, how do we structure that so it’s not just 90 minutes of us trying to do improv comedy? And then we really just grew the first game idea which spawned the first bit of structure, and it was like, anything you got, throw it out there.

Tyler: I think time really played into that because we all have our own things going on. So we ran into the speed bump of we can only script so much and memorize it when we’re planning to go out in June. It got really complicated because “A Date With Markiplier” came out a few months before we had this planning, and that’s what kind of spurned the choose-your-own-adventure style that we ended up trying to do and thin kind of having to reboot and come up with an overarching concept of where we still had the idea of a through-thread while keeping the improv buts and those sorts of things intact.

credit//Evan Bilda

What was the first game you guys came up with?

Mark: The first Idea actually was something that didn’t make it past the planning stages. We were going to do this storytelling style thing, where we were going to get the audience to come up with this Mad Libs-style story. They get the story, they get the characters, the get the location, they get what our objective is. And then I would narrate it out and improvisers would go on stage and act it out. It was one of those ideas that sounded good on paper, but as soon as we tried it with Rachel, we saw just how incredibly flawed it was and it didn’t go very smoothly. So we kind of fell back on games that are tried-and-true staples of improv, short-form comedies especially. There’s long-form and short-form, and usually, long-form is a complex process about building a narrative out of one word or a single idea. Short-form is pre-structured rules that the audience can easily understand and are a little bit easier for improvisers to get into the meat of stuff. Whereas long-form can take a long time to build up and a whole set of characters can come out of it.

Wade: We’d have a whiteboard that we’d access every day when we were planning this. We’d do improv every morning back in March and April when we’d get together, then we’d get together for three or four hours in the afternoon and just spitball ideas. We had this big whiteboard where we could write things like what are things we could do with the audience and we’d just look at them and say, “that’s probably doable, but that would take a lot of props and a lot of busses for just that one setup.” And the process of elimination, we’d take one idea and we’d all kind of contribute why yes or why no on something and limited it down from there. And it just came together throughout the week. When we first started on like a Monday, we were all just sitting around after the planning process like, “…okay, four more days, we think we might call it the ‘You’re Welcome Tour.’ Good start.” And then by Friday, we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do and it was amazing how quickly it came together as we all really wanted this to succeed.


So essentially you took all the best ideas you had that were also the lightest and easiest to take on tour and that kinda made up the whole show?

Wade: Yeah, and even now the show is still evolving. Between the practice tour and the last tour we changed things up a bit, and this tour we added a new show and a really impressive costume set. But we’re still fine-tuning it and adding pieces that we think are fun and that we think the audience will like.

Ethan: It’s interesting to think back to when we first started planning out the tour. Because the first run we did in June was the practice run of the tour. And up until the first rehearsal, we hadn’t done the tour at all. So it was all written on paper and we had an outline of what we wanted to do and how we wanted the show to be. And then we went to Oklahoma, for the first rehearsal and we got on stage with Swani, who is the director of the show. I remember that first full dress rehearsal of the show was the most nervous I’ve ever been through the entire duration of the tour. It was really weird, I was more nervous for that show with no audience or anybody than the first show. Because we had never done it before to completion and it was like, “will this work?” We had no idea. But then after that first rehearsal, it was like, “Wow, it came together! It actually works, this is astonishing!”

Mark: That is a very different recollection than what I have. Because I remember our first rehearsal like, “Whooooo. I don’t know guys, is this even remotely funny?” (Group laughs) But I do agree with the emotions that came out of it like the anticipation and the nervousness going into it and the feeling of pure terror coming out of us just before we went on stage, even if no one was there.

Wade: I feel like we took a long time that first rehearsal when Swani was like, “Great job guys, we just need to cut off about 20 minutes of that and make it a little bit shorter. And it was like, we were so perfect, how could we be faster?

credit//Evan Bilda

Ethan: Those first days of rehearsal when we were in Tulsa were so crazy. Because we were there for three or four days, and the venue was attached to the hotel we were staying at, and we didn’t see sunlight for all of those days we were there and didn’t go outside at all. Every day was the longest day ever and we’d just go in early in the morning and we’d just be rehearsing all day every day and then and by the time it was done we were like, “We have a show!”

Wade: It was like 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day.

Tyler: I remember walking outside for the first time when we filmed a little bit that’s at the beginning of the show and just being like, “This is what light is? I’m blind!”

Wade: I feel like we were all in our own little community there for a minute. We’d wake up, then we’d all og downstairs and get breakfast, and each day you could tell people were more and more exhausted because they’d be a little bit later to breakfast every day. And then the last day, I don’t remember if I was first or second, but then a half hour later someone else finally showed up.


I know for at least Bob and Wade, you guys have other stuff going on and you’re not all in Los Angeles. How is it for you to come together and doing this tour on long stretches when you all kinda have your own things going on?

Bob: It’s honestly the most fun we get to have as friends, in this part of our lives the way it’s worked out. We do charity streams together on occasion, but the last charity stream I did I literally flew out to L.A. the day before the stream, we hung out for a day and planned the stream together. Did the stream, went to bed at Midnight, woke up at 3 a.m., and took an Uber to the airport. So I was in L.A. for 36 hours and we didn’t have any time where it was like nothing’s going on, let’s hang out for a minute. But on the tour, even though it’s fairly busy, there’s still moments like, this morning all five of us ended up in our dressing room and we didn’t have anything we were supposed to be doing, just relaxing and having some breakfast and talking like normal people. For me and Wade, I feel like it’s hard to get any of us to just hang out in a normal setting. So it’s really cool.

Wade: It’s not that hard to pick up where we left off. We had like a half day of rehearsal before the first show date [of this tour], and Mark and I had to drive to St. Louis and we had flight delay after flight delay. So we ended up driving to St. Louis with Molly (Wade’s fiancé). But I think we’ve got such good report with each other that it’s really easy for us to get on stage and laugh and be comfortable in front of one another. We’re not around all the time so it really is a fun experience. This trip especially I feel like it just kind of magnetized in the same rooms and just found time to hang out and BS and laugh. It’s been a lot of fun and cool we get to do it. I wouldn’t say it’s hard to make time for the tour, but it is a challenge to find the right time for the tour because I am planning a wedding.

The reason we’re doing the west coast and Europe back-to-back is because the last tour I was like, “Guys, I wanna keep doing this, but I will literally be killed by Molly if we try to do a tour right near the wedding. And I would like to keep my testicles intact. So can we do two close together or one in the fall?” But I’m really excited for Europe because it will be an easy transition and there won’t be so much dead space in-between and won’t need that much rehearsal unless we change the show up again. But the fact that we’re all able to make time away from our channels and streams and whatnot is awesome, and it’s an experience I’ll be able to look back on in my life and be thankful I got to be a part of this.


Ethan: I think that’s the beauty of this show. In that, there’s no pressure at all. We have really good chemistry here and we’re all just going out on stage and having fun. And we have a really forgiving audience and they’re really excited about what we’re doing. So even if we go out and make a complete fool of ourselves, which a lot of times we do, but even if we mess up we’re still having fun and that’s what they really want to see. If we’re having a good time, then they’re having a good time, ya know? So that’s something special about this show is that we just get to go out there and have fun and the audience just loves seeing that.

What was the first stretch like when you started the tour in June and getting used to performing nightly and life on the road?

Bob: For me personally, honestly, June was a little scary. The way the show came together was cool, by the end the grueling rehearsals we had it was like, “Hey, you know what, this show actually is kind of a fun show. I think the audience will like this.” But the way it worked is we got to the rehearsal place in Oklahoma and we spent three and a half days where every waking hour was rehearsing and working on the show with lunch breaks somewhere in there. By the end of rehearsals, I felt terrible. My knees and my feet were sore, I was exhausted, we had spent all day every day on stage. And then it was like, “Okay, let’s all get in a five-hour car ride and do a show.

For the short run we did in June I didn’t recover, every day was Advil-caffeine-Advil. Once we get to the show, for the 90 minutes we’re on stage, it’s an adrenaline rush and you magically feel better, but all the time in-between I felt terrible. But then in October it was really chill because we didn’t have to beat ourselves up for three straight days immediately before going on tour. But my first impression in June was “This might kill me.”


Without giving too much away, for those who haven’t been to the show, what do you usually do for the improv and fan interactions?

Mark: They really vary from role to role. There’s one role for a fan that is the most important role in the whole show, like everything centers around this person. And then there are other roles where you come up, give us an example of your favorite dance, and then you stand there for a while and cheer. But its equally fun because ever time people come up on stage they are involved in shaping the show. Their visions make the show what it is, and their choices are totally of their own volition in the moment they exist.

We have people who participate in games, we have people who come up and compete, we have people who come up just for suggestions, we have some people come up to define the entire show. But we wanted to give the most opportunity possible for fans to be interactive, and then on the other side, the whole audience has the ability to vote in the show. We give everyone in the show a paddle which has two sides that are very distinct colors so they can vote Yes or No, or red and green, depending on what side they want to be on. So everyone’s a participant in one way or another.

Bob: The fan participation stuff is really cool because most of the parts they participate in they can sort of decide how involved they are, cause sometimes people will come up and be very respectful and they just stand there and are just happy to hang out. But we’ve had people where it’s like they’re pushing to the center of the stage and getting involved in what we’re doing as the cast is trying to do part of the show. Last night there was a girl where her part was in the competition and she was on one side going to the front of the stage and getting people to cheer, and she swayed the whole outcome of that competition because she got the audience really hyped. And the audience members can just stand there and enjoy it or they can try to take over the whole stage, but that’s a thing where we try to make sure they’re safe and try to compete with them.

credit//Evan Bilda

Wade: Even in the realm of where they have this responsibility, there’s still that possibility they might go off script and do something else, and we’ve got to in the moment be like, “yeah, no fighting, but that’s okay.” We just have to make all these decisions on the fly and figure out how we’ll let the show be shaped. It really is a combination of what we want the show to be and what the fans make of the show, which is I think what we all wanted when we started.

Tyler: And at the end of the show we do a Q&A, and Katherine and Amy will go out into the crowd and get the audience members and have them ask questions. And they go all over because when we’re on stage it’s hard for us to try and reach to somebody who’s higher up to come down because that takes a lot of time, and we want to make sure they’re safe at the same time because there are stairs and those sorts of things. When we get into the Q&A we’ve been able to reach to anyone in the audience to be able to ask a question or tell us a comment or something along those lines, and that’s really cool because it gives every single person in the audience the opportunity to not just be a part of it and experience it with the voting, but also the opportunity to talk and interact with us in a more direct manner.

Ethan: I think the audience at our shows are really special, because not only do they know us but they know each other too because they’re all in our communities and they talk to each other too in the comments in our videos. Last night, there was a girl who was getting off the stage and she was going back to her seat, and this girl in the front row recognized her because they had been talking on Twitter, and they had just seen each other in person for the first time. And it was like, “OH! We know each other!” That’s something special that I don’t think really happens at any other kind of show.


What parts of touring do you individually enjoy and what, if anything, do you dislike the most?

Mark: Its hard for me to say because during the show I’m involved with every scene, so I can’t really say one versus the other. But what I like is the moment we have before we go on stage, we have this little moment where we all gather up, it’s five minutes, we always have the same song play. And we all gather up and give each other notes and little bits of encouragement. In the first few [shows] it was like, “Alright, I know we’re all scared shitless, but, rely on each other and we can get through this alive!” Later on it was like, okay, we all know what we’re doing, let’s have fun with this one. “Let’s mess around with X, Y, and Z, and let’s remember A, B, and C.” But we’ve been consistent with those moments and the more we learn about each other the more we feel comfortable with trusting each other for the scenes that we’re doing.

Bob: I’ll be selfish on this one. We made a change between June and October to the opening of the show and how that all works, and I am substantially more involved with the opening and almost the dominant character where I drive a lot of the action and if there is a narrative I’m pushing that along in the beginning. And it’s really fun because I am a very reserved and dry person, I’ve always been witty but I’ve also been a shy and quiet. And I have to be basically the opposite of that for the opening of the show — I feel like I get a little bit better at learning how to be more physically emotive on stage and be more of a character and use more of my voice. And it’s been fun because I’ve never done anything remotely like that and never really wanted to before, but for just a quick moment in the show I get to be this really interesting character and get to try to learn how to make that believable.

Wade: It’s really cool that we all kinda have our own special moments in the show. Bob has his own parts that really kinda stand out and accentuate him. I’ve got a moment in the show, and Tyler and Ethan have their own moments in the show, too. I think just the fact that we’ve all come together to make something we’re all really proud of is pretty amazing. When we all flew out to L.A. The first time we had no idea what we were going to build, and now we’re performing in front of all these people that would laugh even if we just came out there and told a fart joke and walked back off. But whenever they leave, so many of the messages are like “I can’t believe how amazing that was, I didn’t know what to expect but that blew my mind. Even my mom had a great time!” Everyone has so much praise for it and its something we all built together as individuals who have come together and gotten to know each other through just creating stupid content online.

I think the fact that each one of us has our own stamp on the show, and yet, nothing about the show is really that individualistic. Like the improv bits, whoever has an idea steps out or if they want on or steps out or vice versa. There’s nothing I don’t like about the show or being out here, I guess the hard part is the prep before we leave and then leaving pets and people behind. We just moved into a new house and we had to leave our cat in this new house that he’s not fully accustomed to. So every day we’re checking our phones as my sister’s checking on him asking “Is he okay?” And prepping videos. We all still post videos to our channels and stream so we have to make sure we’re still on top of our normal day to day operations as well while we’re out here. I wouldn’t say that’s anything against the show, that’s just normal traveling BS that we have to deal with. But the show itself is an amazing thing to me.


Tyler: My favorite part going into this, I’m the least experienced person in this group in front of a camera or an audience. Mark’s been doing YouTube for six years, Bob three or four-ish, same around that with Wade, and then Ethan’s been doing it almost as long as Mark. I just started doing it maybe a year and a half ago, kinda more full time when Mark invited me out to L.A. to work with him. The biggest thing for me going into this is that I’ve always been a person that’s lacked confidence and been insecure in a lot of ways. When I get into those moments, I have all of these guys, that I’ve known for a significant time in my life, that are supporting.

At the end of the day, it’s us having fun on stage. It feels to me, when I get on stage and the crowd is right there, everyone’s on my side and I get to just hang out and goof with some of my best friends. That in it of itself is my favorite part of the show and my favorite part of the tour in general. My least favorite part, every tour I seem to get into this sleep-deprived state whether it’s my inability to get a solid night’s rest on the bus or I’m thinking about something or don’t get as tired as I would because I’m so energized after the show so I don’t fall early enough. But I get into this state where I get off the bus and I’m in a foggy state and I get to wherever the dressing room is and I just sit there and I’m like {exhales exhaustedly). And I don’t normally drink coffee or caffeine but I’m like I just need it shot right into my veins to keep me going before the show. But when the crowd erupts that’s usually when I get the most energy.

Ethan: I agree with Mark, I really love the pre-show rituals that we have. Whether its the pep talks we have right before the show, down to the little stupid things. We have an opening video that plays and there’s a song during the video, and I don’t know what the real lyrics are, but there’s a part in the song where it sounds like “I’m a little bad boy, little bad boy”, I don’t know. So Bob and I are like “little bad boy, little bad boy.” (Group laughs)

I’m sorry, but just [Mark’s] reaction of, “Really, that’s what you took away from that?”

Mark: No, I know about that part. I’m on the opposite end of the stage like (humming the song).

Ethan: Those little moments, those little stupid moments are really fun because having one great show is awesome but I think what makes the tour really special is all of the tiny moments that we have that are really memorable. Now because we do that, I’ve heard that song on the radio a few months ago when we weren’t on tour, and I was immediately like, “We’re about to go on stage!” So I love those little things. And I agree with Wade, the prepping before tour is really rough, especially this time. We were all going home for Christmas so I prepped three weeks worth of videos before tour, and then my flights were delayed so I didn’t get back to L.A. until really late on the 30th. So I had a little over 24 hours to prep two weeks worth of videos, which didn’t happen. But prepping stuff before the tour is always a little stressful.

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys standup comedy, Let's Play videos and trying new games, along with hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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