“Lord, we start off by praying a special blessing on this incredible team as they launch from home, that each of us would go with them in our hearts, in our prayers and in our support. We pray this in Jesus’s name, amen.”
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And with that, the five guys that make up Dude Perfect — the trick-shot artists who became YouTube superstars — set out on their first live tour. They had gained a massive following by posting expertly-edited videos of them executing incredible trick shots, depicting hilarious stereotypes, and making up goofy shows. But they’d never done anything in front of a live audience. Would their act be a hit outside of YouTube?
Judging from the documentary Dude Perfect released this week, it was. Tyler Toney, Garrett Hilbert, Cory Cotton, Coby Cotton, Cody Jones and their crew visited 20 cities last year, performing a 90-minute live show in each city, and capped the “Pound It Noggin Tour” with two shows in their hometown of Dallas. (A 2020 tour was planned, but is now on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.)
The documentary is essentially a backstage pass to life on tour, but also gives greater insight into the history of the group, how it got started, why the friends nearly quit, how their wives and families have been involved, and how they aim to steward the great platform they’ve been given. Dude Perfect has more than 51 million YouTube subscribers and counting, making it one of the world’s most-subscribed YouTube channels.
At various points throughout the documentary, the guys also share how their faith in Jesus impacts everything they do. In addition to the prayer with their family and friends before they left on tour, the five guys prayed together right before every show. They say the joy and excitement they exhibit on stage and in their videos is a reflection of the joy they have from a relationship with Christ.
“Faith is really the underlying principle and theme behind everything Dude Perfect does,” said the group’s unofficial lead man, Tyler (1 hour, 9 minutes into the documentary).
“Making content that was family-friendly came initially from our faith in Jesus, and we felt like that was something we really, truly wanted to do,” said Coby, one half of the twins in the group.
Dude Perfect often visits hospitals, grants wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and has set up its own Dude Perfect Foundation. While on tour, they got word of a 6-year-old boy they had met previously who wouldn’t be able to make it to their live show, per doctor’s orders because he was recently diagnosed with cancer. So they directed their tour bus to his house, and brought their show to him. Before they left, they prayed for Meyer (1:14 mark).
Dude Perfect is a full-time job each of the five guys in front of the camera, and also employs a crew of cameramen and video editors. But it didn’t start out as a full-time job. After graduating from Texas A&M, some of the guys started “real” jobs and got married. Trick-shot videos didn’t seem like a full-time venture.
But their YouTube channel continued to grow, so they continued making videos even though they now lived in different cities. That put major strain on families and careers. They came to a point where each member had to decide to go all in — with their wife’s support — or the group would disband.
“The minute we all went all in, the thing just exploded,” Cody said (45:00 mark).
“The Lord just took it to new levels,” Garrett said. “Deals just started flooding in. … It was like, ‘Boom, quit (your other job). This is what you were called to do. Do it.”
Dude Perfect doesn’t preach the Gospel or talk about faith in Jesus in their videos, but the guys don’t hide their faith either. The “About” page on their website says, “Obviously when that first ball swished, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we believe that nothing happens by accident, that God’s given us this platform for a reason, and that we have an opportunity to make an impact on the lives of countless others all around the globe. Above all else, our ultimate goal is to glorify Jesus Christ in everything that we do. We want to use this platform for something much bigger than us.”
Each of the guys further shares about his faith in Jesus in an “About Us” video from 2016:
“When I went to college, I knew that I was looking for some other Christian guys to really develop a friendship with, and that was really the starting point of Dude Perfect, before we even had the idea of basketball shots in our mind. It was just five friends coming together that were all Christians building each other up and having fun,” Tyler said.
“I was about to live with a different group of guys and I thought, ‘You know what, if I’m going to take this Jesus thing seriously, I need to surround myself with guys that love the Lord, and can push me as iron sharpens iron, and mold me into the man that I know I can be,” Cody said, adding, “I kind of jumped into this house last minute, not knowing them but trusting that God had a plan.”
“God had a way bigger plan for Dude Perfect than we could have ever imagined … to do Dude Perfect and to use this platform that He’s given us to make His name great and to honor Him through this, and to just proclaim His name as much as we can, and live a life that’s glorifying to Him,” Garrett said.
“I put the full weight of my life on Jesus and I have given the rest of my life to Him, trusting that He has great plans for my life, and that He knows better than I do,” Coby said.
“There is something more to life, and His name is Jesus. If you’ll put your hope in Jesus, He’s the answer. He just is,” Cory said.
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