“Other” Joe Lopez is well-known by gamers for his work on The Angry Joe Show. His winning dynamic with “Angry” Joe Vargas, a close friend since middle school, is a large factor in the appeal of their YouTube channel. As an integral part of the show, his humorous observations and experienced criticism have made him beloved amongst fans. Lopez has helped Vargas to hone his characteristic tone since his earliest days with Blistered Thumbs.
As The Angry Joe Show has increased in popularity, it’s received significant backlash for a perceived laziness. Although the channel puts out more content than ever, including reviews of board games and films, a vocal few incessantly demand a constant string of dedicated game spotlights. In many ways, this speaks to the quality of Lopez and Vargas’ craft when it comes to their analysis of video games. However, it leaves the two and their associates buried by the entitled whines of backseat drivers. Even worse, such selfishness from an audience can stifle the creativity that defines their style.
In truth, Lopez works astonishingly hard; for both The Angry Joe Show and a second job. As a result, my interview with him could only be conducted quickly, in a ten minute slot on his way out the door. I’m grateful to him for giving up some time to speak to Secret Cave, where we were able to cover an impressive array of topics. In this bonus SCP3 episode, Lopez fits in perspectives on audience pressure, the games that first influenced him and several other interesting areas. Click below to hear the podcast in full, or scroll down to read the rest of this article and transcripts of our dialogue.
If it isn’t the thoughtful scrutiny of The Angry Show Show that first compels you to subscribe, it’s probably the hilariously endearing relationship that Lopez and Vargas display. Their streams and Let’s Play videos are always a joy to watch, and it’s mostly because of their entertaining commentary. Though Lopez has recorded game-play with Vargas for a long time now, their friendship goes back even further. With their official site stating that their roots stretch back to school days, I was intrigued by their beginnings.
All block quotes in this piece are transcripts of Joe Lopez’s words from our SCP3 episode.
Basically, he was like a year older than I was. I was new to the neighbourhood. I came over here when I was fifteen, to Austin, and I met some friends who said, “Hey, come and check out our other friend, Joe! He’s a cool guy”. Then, we all met up. We started playing around, played football… The usual stuff; getting in trouble! [We] played video games, so we just started connecting. We had a little, tight group.
Back then, gaming was already a passion of Lopez’s. Today, through his work with Vargas, he samples a wide array of different releases. They don’t focus on any one genre, or platform for that matter. It’s one of the strengths of their show, meaning you can rely on their advice in multiple areas. Yet, all gamers have a humble beginning. For Lopez, his first digital days in pixelated palaces were an influence on his personality as much as his tastes.
It started with Super Nintendo. For me it was, honestly, Mario for sure [and] Killer Instinct. Then, believe it or not, I had a lot of wrestling games! I was huge into wrestling. Yeah, that was so much fun; especially creation.
That creation is now behind almost everything Lopez does for The Angry Joe Show. It’s fortunate that he’s been able to find an outlet that allows him to explore it, along with his love for video games. This has made him the perfect partner for Vargas, who shares both of those drives in spades. Despite heavily appearing in streams and sketches, his role behind-the-scenes isn’t immediately obvious. It’s easy to assume that Lopez has some hand in the editing. This much is true, but in an unexpected way.
I help out with the Let’s Plays, and stuff like that. I come up with some ideas for the parodies, but [Joe] does the majority of the editing for the reviews; the major ones. So, I just do the smaller videos. Then, we can put some more content out!
Their channel is extremely active, regardless of the number of reviews they put out. It’s thanks to Lopez, and others like Delrith, that the show stays vividly alive. Their attention to ongoing output is admirable, since their reviews require intense graft. It shows too, establishing The Angry Joe Show as a full-bodied source of both information and comedy, silly though it may at times be. This brings with it the side-effect of a rabid fan-base, aggressively ravenous for something they essentially champion. Every release on their channel is accompanied by a torrent of pokes for even more material.
Especially [in] Broketober! [We’re] kinda getting bombarded with all these new games that everybody wants us to do; every game that comes out! But, hopefully they’ll be patient with us. We’re gonna try to do Shadow of War and South Park [The Fractured But Whole].
It sucks too because it’s just him and I, and Del helps us with the streaming as well. It’s, like, three people!
It’s intriguing, if unfair, that Lopez and Vargas’ audience feel more in control of the show than those who actually make it. The resultant pressure that the duo repeatedly encounter is a constraint, not a liberation. It means that, instead of following their instincts, they’re diverted by the bubbling wishes of their own followers. There’s an element of catch-22 to the situation, which leaves them wading in a confusing quicksand. Amazingly, Vargas has been known to ask for permission to put out the kind of content he wants. It’s odd, then, that the same vehement detractors are so instantly satisfied by his eventual toils.
When we kinda set the schedule last time, we fell behind. Then, we just got all these comments that say, “Hey, you didn’t do this. You didn’t do this. You were supposed to do this”. I was like, “Yes, we understand what we were supposed to do. We made a schedule, [but] we’re getting overwhelmed”. We just needed to take a little break with that.
We’re actually gonna try something else. We kinda have a new schedule, but it’s kinda hard to put expectations [on it] ’cause then we have more pressure built up on ourselves. We have deadlines, and then everyone’s gonna get mad. So, we’re just trying to take it easy, and work at our pace, and try to do the best we can with that. Hopefully, our fans will still stick around with us.
We put out, like, three reviews and everything seems to go back to normal. It’s like, “Hey, Joe’s back! Congratulations, great job”. We’ve just got to continue with that momentum.
All of this is my perspective. Lopez himself isn’t one to complain, except where a video game or film has loudly asked for it. In actuality, he gets as much from the channel as he gives. After all, it’s a genuine interest of his. Beyond an appreciation of, and love for, the position he’s in, Lopez treasures interaction with fans. Not all of the channel’s subscribers spit unwarranted vitriol. Most simply watch, while others gleefully support streams with insightful contributions in the chat.
I enjoy all of it, honestly. But, streaming would probably be the top one because that’s where we actually meet up with fans, and they’re there to see us, and it’s a great, little one-on-one we get to have with them. So, I like doing that.
Behind The Angry Joe Show is a lot of imagination. Lopez and Vargas are uncomfortable with half-baked reviews. That may explain why producing such videos has become a laboured process. The results show every time, with their reviews featuring structure, narrative, intelligent thought, memorable sketches and, at the end of it all, an ever-increasing run-time. Their channel isn’t just captivating, but renders a service in the process; a consumer guide that’s sincere in its critique.
Obviously, we put more pressure on, “It’s gotta be a great video. It’s gotta be better than before. Are they gonna like this? We should redo everything [and] scrap it”. We start getting into our heads.
We try to be informative and creative. That way, we’ll entertain you and yet you’ll get the knowledge on the game; whether it’s worth your money or whatnot.
That’s exactly what we like to hear too, like, “Hey, you guys saved us x amount of money. Thanks guys, I’ll use it to buy something better. I’ll try this indie game, that I’d never even heard of”; stuff like that is pretty cool to me. [We] just try to save you guys money, and [help you] check out some other stuff you normally wouldn’t be into. Actually X-COM… I had never even heard of it. Joe, he actually showed me X-COM. Phenomenal game, and he showed, like, a whole bunch of other people X-COM. They loved it as well!
In fact, over the years, I have personally tailored some of my purchases to Lopez and Vargas’ recommendations. In particular, I was sold on Scribblenauts: Unmasked within minutes of their game-play footage. Similarly, I’ve been able to avoid some profound tripe after hearing their disdain. This doesn’t make their opinion lore. I strongly disagree with Vargas’ rating of Batman: Arkham Knight, for example. But, with a discerning palette, The Angry Joe Show is a high watermark for gaming journalism based on the internet. So much comes through their sphere that it can even quickly muddle. That said, Lopez was still happy to round out this interview with two titles to keep a keen eye on.
I’ve played so much right now I can’t even think! I know the last one, Cuphead, was a lot of fun. You should definitely check it out. You need to check it out, and you need to be patient with it because your anger will get the best of you!
You can watch The Angry Joe Show on YouTube here. Alternatively, visit their official site or follow “Other” Joe Lopez on Twitter (or “Angry” Joe Vargas here)! You can also follow Secret Cave for ongoing updates, or check out our YouTube for further podcasts.