The first season of NBC’s “Bring the Funny” has concluded, and the winner is the fan-favorite, The Valleyfolk. Joe Bereta, Lee Newton, Elliott Morgan, and Steve Zaragoza (formerly of SourceFed) took home a grand prize of $250,000 plus an invitation to perform at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal.
“Bring the Funny” is hosted by comedian Amanda Seales and is anchored by a panel of celebrity judges. Kenan Thompson, Chrissy Teigen, and Jeff Foxworthy navigated their way for months through various comedy acts, which all boiled down to the grand finale on Sept. 17.
“Almost two years ago now we started The Valleyfolk as a comedy production company where we make sketches and fun videos and just have it be a playground for all of our weird ideas,” Zaragoza tells The Burn-in, post-win over the phone.
Zaragoza went on to carefully describe how each of them fit together and how important their relationships are—not only to their fans but to each other. “It does work because our dynamics are so unique and we project the spectrum of what a comedy audience would want,” he explained. “We cover the spectrum of personalities. That might be the secret to our success.”
The Burn-In: As a sketch comedy troupe, I feel like you guys will naturally draw comparisons to a lot of the greats. How is what you bring to the table different?
Steve Zaragoza: I think we’re as unfiltered as we can be, especially with doing national television. I guess we kind of bring an ‘oddness.’ Jeff Foxworthy said that we were just so weird. I really, truly took that as a compliment because we are. We’re just weird. I don’t know exactly what it is, but we’re odd people. We came up with some really strange ideas, strange concepts that we then wrapped around some normal things for people to understand the structure. It’s just odd stuff that I guess separates us from other acts. We’re just odd people.
TBI: There were several stages of this competition; what was your favorite part?
SZ: If I had to [narrow it down] I guess I would say ‘Robot Doctor.’ That round was really surreal for me because the idea came from a podcast that I have with my friend Mike Falzone, called ‘Dynamic Banter.’ We just went on and on about this little stupid idea and then when the NBC show came up, and we were asked to submit some sketch ideas to potentially perform on the show, I just threw that one into the mix because I thought it was a funny concept. And everybody loved it. NBC loved it and ultimately Kenan, and Chrissy, and Jeff loved it. And then America loved it.
TBI: You were always the fan-favorite. What were some of the comments that you were receiving throughout this whole process?
SZ: Our fan base, our viewers, our patrons, and everyone who stood behind us and helped us achieve this honor, they’re incredible. Some of them have been right there with us since the very beginning of our careers here in the comedy/digital world. The responses have been, as cliché as it sounds, overwhelming, and amazing. Every sketch we put out is met with these amazing comments from people that are just like, ‘We knew that you guys could do it. Seeing you on TV is so amazing. We grew up watching you guys on YouTube, and now you’re on TV.’
It feels like a dream almost, and it’s not something that we as a comedy team expected to happen; certainly in this way, but really at all. We just figured we’d be making little digital videos that our wonderful audience loves. Hopefully, we’d just get to do that into perpetuity, but the fact that we got to do our weird stuff, and be odd, and show the world on television, our audience went nuts; they just loved it. They saw us being excited about it, and they saw how happy it made us and they knew. And they were right there with us.
TBI: What do you want the audience to know about what it’s actually like being on this show?
SZ: [It’s] absolutely a dream come true. That’s the best way I can describe it. We were four wacky kids who came from four very different places in life, found each other, made weird comedy together, then did a TV show, and then won a TV show. I don’t know if there are words to describe it. It’s something that such a small percentage of the entire planet will even get to experience. That alone overwhelmed me with this feeling of—I don’t know—it still hasn’t really fully hit me yet. But it is truly a dream come true.
TBI: What’s next for the four of you?
SZ: We want to hit the ground running. We want to continue creating content for The Valleyfolk YouTube channel and maybe up the ante a little bit. We’d love to start pitching our bigger ideas. We have scripts, we have pitches for pilots, for television—we have all of these ideas. We feel like because of the success of the show, it’s the best time to try to get that out there in the world; as well as continuing our work with The Valleyfolk and building it up as a comedy production unit. We still hope to release or maybe work on some cool, exciting ‘off YouTube ideas.’
Zaragoza rounded out the interview, with some loving words for The Valleyfolk fans. “It’s just truly something that I can’t express how grateful I am for. Thank you to everyone who helped us get here,” he said. “I’ve been filled with so much warmth and love; it’s really amazing.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.