HUNTINGTON - Huntington is full of Christmas traditions from the Toy Train and "The Nutcracker" to the symphony's annual concert and the downtown parade.
While many of these events have already come and gone, Huntington's got one more oddly shaped holiday goodie hidden way down in Santa's bag.
It's a home show by the nationally traveling brother-built comedy machine of McElroy brothers known to more than one million listeners a month as "My Brother, My Brother and Me."
Mics on Justin, on Travis, on Griffin, and tuck in those ugly Christmas sweaters, boys, it's time for the second annual live recording of MBMBAM's all-inclusive, faux holiday celebration, "Candlenights."
"Candlenights" will bring the live comedy to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Grand Ballroom at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21.
Tickets are $20 and on sale now. Doors open at 7 p.m. Get tickets at http://candlenights2015.brownpapertickets.com for the show, which will also feature "Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine," the medical-themed comedy podcast hosted by Justin McElroy and Dr. Sydnee McElroy. Now in its third season, that podcast was named by iTunes as one of 2013's best new podcasts.
Eldest brother and show originator Justin McElroy said last year's home show taping in Huntington was a test to see if listeners and locals would come out to hear "Candlenights," more family-friendly PG-13 or so version of the popular MBMBAM podcast which dispenses tongue-in-cheek, faux advice as the brothers attempt to solve every question, query and quandary posed by listeners of their top-rated podcast. From ghost horses to Garfield fetishes, no topic is too complex for the podcast, which is like a radio show you can listen to on demand over the Internet or on a "podcatcher" like a smartphone or mp3 player with Internet capabilities.
Justin McElroy said the brothers were overwhelmed at last year's response as 600 people from 28 states, Canada, Switzerland and the U.K. came to Huntington for the show.
Sons of theater lovers the late Leslie McElroy and well-known theater personality Clint McElroy, the McElroy brothers said they plan on making this year's show even bigger and better than last year.
"Last year it was all about humility. This year is more Celine Dion laser light show extravaganza," said Griffin McElroy, who lives in Austin, Texas. "It will definitely sound better than last year."
"And there will be booze," Justin McElroy, added with a laugh.
"And it's about 80 percent sold out, and we've already sold as many tickets as we sold last year," added Travis McElroy, who lives in L.A.
Minutes into chatting with the three Huntington native stage-raised brothers, and you see why listeners from around the world continue to make the numbers skyrocket for their show.
The show debuted in 2010, and since 2011 has been featured on the Maximum Fun website where new shows are chalking up more than 100,000 downloads weekly. Thanks to a reservoir of more than 280 past episodes, MBMBAM downloads number more than 1 million a month.
Although they have chalked up a long list of famed guest stars such as Bill Corbett (MST3K), Lin-Manuel Miranda (burning up Broadway with "Hamilton"), Elizabeth Gilbert ("Eat, Pray, Love") and John Hodgman, the show mostly focuses on the brothers riffing on wild stacks of listener questions with a rapid-fire spray of pop culture-shaded comments.
"We are pretty earnest. Like no matter how weird we get, we don't make any effort to keep people at arm's length," Justin McElroy said. "I think people can tell if people are trying to BS them. We are straight with people, and people respond to that."
MBMAM did a couple mini-tours including a Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee run and then a Seattle, Vancouver and Portland run, with the Seattle date being the largest crowd to date with more than 1,000 people in the audience.
"We are like a real family in real life, and there is something really magical about that," middle brother Travis McElroy said. "We have had people respond and say things like, 'I never talk to my family' or 'We never get along' - and we do. We never knew how special that was until we started broadcasting familial relationships out in to the world. We did one episode where our wives did the show, so it was 'My Sister-In-Law, My Sister-In-Law and Me,' and people were like, 'They were so funny, and you have an awesome family, and your whole family is great,' and that makes me feel lucky."
The success of MBMBAM has indeed helped the brothers reach out to their family and start up such additional podcasts as the Sydnee and Justin McElroy tag-teamed "Sawbones," which is always the tour opener for MBMBAM, as well as "Adventure Zone," during which the brothers teach their father how to play "Dungeons and Dragons."
That kind of quality output and popularity with an Internet-focused young demographic caught the eye of Seeso, the new ad-free streaming comedy service from NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises.
That new online "channel," which is packed with such fan favorites as "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and 40 plus years of "Saturday Night Live," will also have exclusive original series as well such as "The UCB Show," from hosts, creators and Upright Citizens Brigade founders Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser.
The brothers said they can announce they are working with United Talent Agency - who connected them with Seeso - and for whom they are in the early days of a development deal to create "MBMBAM" content for the web comedy channel.
"We are working on something with them and trying to figure out what that show will look like," Justin McElroy said. "It will be MBMBAM, and we are trying really hard to shoot it in Huntington. Our dream would be to do that, and with any luck it will be available for people to download and watch online this next year."
While that deal and a record year for MBMBAM have the brothers riding high, their hearts are warmed even more by the MBMBAM fans who have once again stepped up and helped knock out the 100 Christmas needs listed in The Herald-Dispatch's Empty Stockings list.
Just last week Justin McElroy posted this year's Empty Stockings list on the MBMBAM Facebook page, and the response was again overwhelming.
Jaye Toler, director of development at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Tri-State, Inc., said she has once again had her heart lifted by the MBMBAM fan love.
"They are amazing, and I cannot say enough to acknowledge their generosity," Toler wrote in an email. "Both last year, and this year, we've been overwhelmed by their help. Several members have asked if there were needs beyond those that were published. And they've committed to help with those as well. These gifts during the holidays make our guests feel more 'normal' during a difficult time. It means so much to them, that the community is pulling for them. And to think these people could be in Minnesota or England... That's amazing."
Justin McElroy said the Empty Stockings list really hits hard when people read how tough some folks have it.
"The Empty Stockings list is very powerful," Justin McElroy said. "You know about poverty, you hear statistics about poverty, but until you see them in people and their situations it doesn't click. When you hear how hard some people have it, it is impossible not to act."
Griffin McElroy said one thing that was really incredible this year was how fans were chatting back and forth and teaming up to get some more expensive items such as a stove and a bed for a little girl who sleeps on a mattress in a mice-infested single trailer she shares with five adults.
"If you don't find yourself in the holiday spirit, outwardly helping someone else in need is the best way to put you in the holiday mindset," Travis McElroy said. "...This makes someone else's holiday happen, and fixing someone's problems is a genuinely wonderful experience to have. We are just facilitating what is in other people's hearts."
If you go
WHAT: "My Brother, My Brother and Me" live from Huntington for "Candlenights 2015." Opening the show will be a live taping of "Sawbones."
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21. Doors open at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Grand Ballroom of the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
TICKETS: $20 and on sale at http://candlenights2015.brownpapertickets.com .
THE AFTER PARTY: The Lantern on 4th Avenue
THE McELROY STABLE OF PODCASTS: You can listen to a wealth of podcasts performed by the McElroy brothers. Their flagship is "My Brother, My Brother and Me," which has been around since 2010 and on Maximum Fun since 2011. Other podcasts from the brothers and friends include "Sawbones," (with Huntington physician Dr. Sydnee McElroy) "Bunker Buddies," "Adventure Zone" (with Clint McElroy), "Trends Like These," and the once-a-year podcast, "Til Death Due Us Blart," a Thanksgiving holiday special where the brothers review "Paul Blart Mall Cop 2."