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Exclusive Interview with YouTubers A Brit and A Yank (James Stapleton and John Raphael)

unspecified-2We all know of the Spice Girls, and whether we want to admit it or not, we all probably find ourselves singing along whenever we hear one of their songs. But what most of us don’t know is the untold and top-secret story of two members who were excluded from the group: Cheeky Spice and Fancy Spice.

In all reality, the story is entirely made up and comes from the brilliant and genius minds of humor-masters James and John, perhaps better known as the Brit (James Stapleton) and the Yank (John Raphael). Their YouTube channel, aptly named A Brit and A Yank, is teaming with videos that will leave your abdominal muscles sore from laughing so much. The comedy duo tackles award show reviews, popular YouTube challenges, and, most recently, a parody called “Spice Girls: The Untold Story.”

What was your motivation behind creating your YouTube channel A Brit and A Yank?

JOHN: I have a background in TV producing and I was looking to let off some creative steam outside of my day job as a celebrity assistant. James and I became friends through social media and a bunch of our followers loved whenever James and I would have any online banter, so I just thought, “let’s do a show together.”

JAMES: And truly, I was a little bit hesitant at the beginning. My background as a creative director means I am used to orchestrating things behind the scenes. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun and came up with the title “A Brit and a Yank.”

JOHN: I thought that combined, we really had something different to offer. Between the banter within our friendship and our background in entertainment we could create something truly unique…and good.

What goes into making one of your YouTube videos?

JOHN: Well, first we both agree on a topic to cover and then brainstorm where we want to go with it.

JAMES: And then we usually spend about an hour arguing over who’s right or wrong. (laughs)

JOHN: Compromise is key, and that’s actually what makes our videos work well.

JAMES: I agree. Our different ideas blend well to make one solid vision.

JOHN: He NEVER agrees with me, so I’m in shock right now! (laughs)

JAMES: It also depends on the video. If it’s a quick review or round up, then we shoot it fast paced on the fly, edit our best bits together, and we turn the video around quickly while the topic is still trending.

JOHN: If it’s something that’s more of a story-led production, we’ll write a script, rehearse, shoot the same thing from multiple angles, and then edit a final cut. For the Spice Girls mockumentary, we kept coming up with additional pieces we wanted to shoot while editing. We could have probably turned the piece into a full feature film.

What was the inspiration behind creating this mockumentary, “Spice Girls: The Untold Story”?

JAMES: We wanted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls as we both love them so much and, like most of our videos, it started with a small, simple idea and morphed into a giant production.

JOHN: This is our love letter to the group. Who hasn’t dreamt of being a Spice Girl? That was the question that kept popping into both of our heads, and so we came up with the concept of us being original members of the group who were constantly pushed out of the history books. It was our way to both honor them…and to become Spice Girls ourselves.

JAMES: In the most ridiculous way possible. (laughs)

How did you come up with the names Cheeky Spice and Fancy Spice?

JAMES: Well, John’s Spice name seemed very obvious from the offset to me, but he didn’t like the title of “Annoying Spice.”

JOHN: Excuse me! You clearly should have been “Snobby Spice”…

JAMES: There’s nothing wrong with being called a snob or liking the finer things in life. I just happen to call that being fancy. 

JOHN: ANYWAY…we wanted something cute and clever, and I do think of myself as cheeky and James does come across as fancy. At least in his mind.

The story of Cheeky Spice and Fancy Spice and their unfortunate exclusion from the Spice Girls was very detailed and thought out. How much planning went into creating this video?

JOHN: This was definitely our most intense production since we began making videos together.

JAMES: We knew we wanted to do a video where we could showcase everything that we’re capable of doing in terms of comedic writing, performing, editing, etc.

JOHN: We wanted a little bit of everything in this video to show people what we’re really capable of. In terms of the story, we came up with the plot and talking points, but the majority of our interview segments were completely improv. Our improv shaped the story, and we filmed and edited around the ridiculous things we said. It wasn’t easy.

JAMES: Part of the fun was taking things back to the 90s and throwing ourselves into their iconic music videos with a green screen and making them look as realistic as possible. We do all the editing and production ourselves, so it was time-consuming but worth it!

What’s your favorite Spice Girls song?

JAMES: Without a shadow of a doubt “Say You’ll Be There.”

JOHN: Truly mine changes depending on my mood. But if I had to pick just one…

JAMES: You do have to! That’s the question!

JOHN: FINE! “2 Become 1” without a shadow of a doubt! (laughs)

What’s next for A Brit and A Yank? Are the two of you possibly a part of another popular band? Perhaps Backstreet Boys or One Direction?

JOHN: I love the Backstreet Boys! They definitely deserve a tribute at some point. James might be a little too old for One Direction.

JAMES: How rude. Well, we’ve already gone head to head with Judge Judy, had dinner at Downton Abbey, and were the winners of America’s Next Top Model, so I guess stay tuned to see where we pop up next.

Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so is there anything that you nerd out about?

JOHN: I’m a pop culture fiend. Madonna is my number one obsession and every day I’m trying to chip away at James’s soul to do a Madonna-inspired video since he’s not her biggest fan. I also can’t get enough of FRIENDS, Harry Potter, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Cher…

JAMES: John is obviously gay. Currently, I am nerding over The Great British Bake Off; I love that show! I do tend to just re-watch episodes of my favorites; Absolutely Fabulous, Kath and Kim (Australia Version), Happy Endings, and Desperate Housewives.

JOHN: I guess I’m not the only gay one. Also, we both love The Real Housewives, Nashville, and whenever we are working, we always make sure to stop and take 30 minutes to watch Jeopardy.

Written by Allison Schonter

Hey! I'm Allison, an English major with a concentration in creative writing. I obsess over movies, TV shows, and music. My current obsessions include The 100, The Walking Dead, and Fear The Walking Dead. So go ahead and talk to me about those.

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