Earl Dibbles Jr. may have started as an inside joke between singer-songwriter Granger Smith and his brothers, but the comedy character became a cult hero and a YouTube star with millions of views for his videos.
The first video, “Country Boy,” was about as low-budget as it gets.
“When we first did this, my brothers were shooting it and literally laughing so hard, they would have to go around to the side of the building to let out a laugh and then come back so it didn’t affect me,” Smith said during a recent interview with CMT Hot 20 Countdown. “And I would start laughing because if your brother laughs, you laugh, and it would take us forever.”
Smith — and Dibbles — have come a long way with his latest video, “‘Merica,” shot on a soundstage with a full crew and some special effects.
“This one is over the top,” he said. “It is a bunch of America-isms. So we tried to capture that with over-the-top shots and visual effects on the green screen.”
With a real budget to work with, Smith says the trick was to keep Dibbles true to his extremely humble roots.
“You can’t keep shooting the same video over and over,” he said. “He has to evolve somewhere, and so I tried to use the same part of my brain that created Dibbles to shoot him down the same direction so that the evolution comes from the same origin.”
With Dibbles briefly finding himself in outer space in the new video, the big question is where he may go next.
“I don’t know,” Smith said. “And I didn’t know when I did this. I didn’t know what was coming next anyway. I’m making this all up as I go.”