SmartShanghai: Hey Mamahuhu gang! You're back. What have you guys been up to for like, two years?
Matt: Just you know, different work, different places.
Alessio: Matt's a producer, I'm a cinematographer, so we've been working together. [They're also brothers]
Matt: Johnny's chasing Chinese Hollywood, he used to work in DreamWorks.
Johnny: DreamWorks actually found me because of Mamahuhu, they watched some videos. I got the chance to work at DreamWorks the last two years, but I quit this year. I wanted a new chance.
SmSh: Wanted to work with real professionals, huh?
Matt: Yeah, then he finds out he's going to work with us.
Jorge: I'm hanging out, just friends with these guys, I've just been helping with whatever I can.
Matt: [Jorge]'s from the Shanghai Show, the podcast, so that's something he helps on.
SmSh: So why the comeback? What was the drive behind it?
Alessio: It all started with the video we did about the history of Mamahuhu. You know it used to be a prank show, which none of us enjoyed shooting. Matt had to go out and do those.
Matt: I dug the foundations for Mamahuhu. So yeah, we reached out to everybody about it, and as we talked about it, we decided, hey, let's make it again.
Alessio: The more it went on, the more we looked back at [our time as Mamahuhu] fondly. And with the skills we have now, and with the benefit of hindsight, we're just excited to be back. Kind of learned from the past as well. We thought, let's write everything, plan it, and then shoot it all together and publish it. Before, we were writing, filming, editing and then releasing them weekly. It was just me and Johnny going "well, Chinese people do this, Western people do this." We had a board. "How would you react to this one?" It was very much motivated by what we could get done in half a day.
Matt: We always wanted to keep doing it. We were in different places doing different things, it just happened that we all came back at this time.
SmSh: How is it getting back into the swing of it?
Matt: The first week back was horrible. We didn't know it was going to be the hottest time of the year. It's boiling and the cicadas...it was rough.
Alessio: The last couple of days we've been translating subtitles. We have one that's particularly difficult, written by Joe Schaefer from Kung Fu Komedy, and the translations are a...it's about pitching a fusion restaurant and he just keeps going over the top, saying like "it's a fusion experience! It's a fexpersion! An explusion!" and we're just trying to figure out how to translate that.
SmSh: Maybe do it like Monty Python, where the subtitles veer off topic completely?
Xi: It's a good idea!
SmSh: So is anything different about Mamahuhu two years later?
Alessio: Better knowledge, better equipment... Jorge? Being a bit wiser about it?
Matt: We're older.
Johnny: I think the culture stuff makes Mamahuhu special, and I think we'll keep focusing on this point. But after two years, we've all learned more, and yeah, we're getting older. We want to make Mamahuhu higher quality.
SmSh: Do you think people even remember who you are? Two years in Shanghai is like a million in normal years.
Alessio: That's a good thing, because we can be reposting the old videos and the new people are like "whoaw, this is amazing!"
SmSh: How do you think it stays relevant two years later?
Johnny: We always focus on the culture. I think we're the first team to make videos about culture.
Alessio: I think that was its biggest appeal, you try your best to make it appeal to both Western and Chinese. I think that's a really nice spot to be in.
Matt: It's a very fine dance.
Alessio: And you want to keep it frequent. Skits take a lot of work, you don't want to stop doing those, but you also want to keep more consistent content. So every Friday we have like a video podcast talk show, not sure what to call it, that we film with Jorge. We're just talking about the latest news in China that's humorous. Friday's video is about Rap of China. It's like the Voice of China except it's hip-hop.
Jorge: [That show] has hundreds of millions of views online.
SmSh: Is it any good?
Jorge: Yeah, surprisingly, the rappers are really great. A lot of rappers that rap in their dialects, it's a really cool show.
Kay: Another thing about Mamahuhu that's very good, it's like a window that shows the world how actual China is. We're living in this city and we have these real experiences and then we talk about them. It's not some old impression of old China, of old times.
SmSh: So by the time this is up, there'll be a 10+ minute video out. Who even has 10 minutes for funny videos anymore?
Alessio: Well we didn't think "let's make a ten minute video," we just had an idea and wanted to do it. Started writing it, and then looking at it we're like, "this may be longer." But I think it's pretty solid. It's part of that balance.
SmSh: Is this long-form stuff more like an experiment?
Alessio: It's not really an experiment.
Matt: If they don't like it, they can just stop watching it.
Alessio: That's really not going to come across in print.
Alessio: You really fucked us there.
Matt: I'm not saying another thing.
SmSh: So, what's the future hold for Mamahuhu? I ask, two weeks after you're back.
Alessio: I think everyone has dreams of doing something bigger someday. Johnny's chasing it, Johnny's trying to get films made, so hopefully one lends to the other. The bigger the fanbase grows, the bigger the opportunities we have to grow.
SmSh: All right, generic question time, what's the biggest development in the two years you've been gone?
Kay: Disneyland. Not for me, maybe for the kids.
Jorge: Did he say Alipay? I'll say WeChat Pay. Oh, we have Taco Bell. That's a game-changer.
Johnny: The Chinese film industry. It's crazy. This new film, Wolf Warrior 2 made nearly 40 billion.
SmSh: Is it good?
Johnny: Not for me. But the director worked really hard, so he deserved it.
If you have enough time in your busy schedule to see Mamahuhu's latest 11-minute video, check it out below. Mind your VPNs.