Falling flat: Two Guys Take On Real Estate and the landlord tipping TikTok
If you're on Real Estate Tok, you've probably seen the viral video from Two Guys Take On Real Estate that came out recently advocating tipping for landlords. With nearly a million views and nearly 12,000 comments, it absolutely put Matt (otherwise known as Flippin Landlord Ninja) and Kevin (also known as Property Prince) on the map, though not in a good way.
Though they subsequently came out with a video that attempted to make it seem that the first video was a joke, the earnestness in the video above certainly makes it seem like this was a sincere suggestion.
Just to recap, the Two Guys appear to feel that along with record-high inflation and housing costs, renters should spend additional money to tip their landlord for providing the property management services that landlords have traditionally offered, and that they are required by law to provide. The rationale? You tip your Starbucks barista (who earns just above minimum wage) and your wait staff (who, in most places, don't even earn minimum wage and live on tips).
I won't go into all of the reasons this is wrong-headed crazy talk. I'll just point you to the comments on the video for that.
What I will say is that this video points up the danger of creating "humorous" content. I'm sure that the Two Guys thought this video was hilarious when they were making it. After all, they put on a funny green wig. It must be a comic masterpiece, right?
However, there's no actual comedy in the video. The stand-in for the landlord is completely earnest in his "argument" and the bewigged renter is the one who's being made fun of on multiple levels. The whole thing is insulting, from the idea at the heart of it to the performances themselves.
I've written a lot of content for real estate investors over the years, and this video echoes some of the most negative rhetoric I've encountered in that space. I'm the first to acknowledge that landlording, especially the DIY kind, is a tough job. It comes with financial risks that can sometimes offset the potential rewards.
However, that's true of many types of work and many types of investment. And landlords who do the job right — with careful screening, solid onboarding, and conscientious property management — can end up with an appreciating property, excellent tenant retention, and a host of tax benefits.
Not all landlords are like that, of course, and many of them see their tenants as the enemy. They treat the people who are renting from them like children or criminals, always expecting the worst and resenting any service they require.
I've found in life that you usually get what you give, and when you expect the worst of people, they'll live down to your expectations. It's pretty clear to see that the Two Guys look down on their tenants and think that they should be grateful for the privilege of living in one of their rental properties. At least, that's the message the video conveys.
So how can you keep from going wrong with your funny video content?
Want to make sure you never make a fool of yourself and go viral for all the wrong reasons? Here's how to check yourself before you wreck yourself when making humorous content:
Don't punch down. That's the biggest problem with the Two Guys video. Landlords are in a power position as compared to the tenant. They have more money, they own the property, they decide who stays and who goes. The landlord can make a tenant's life miserable and, in some cases, can even make them homeless. Asking for a tip in those circumstances looks more like blackmail than a joke.
Remember what Mama told you. You may have heard the old saying "Never discuss religion or politics in polite company." That has always been good advice, but it is more important than ever right now, when folks are so divided in their beliefs and many seem to be living in an alternate reality. Just because that "joke" plays well at the country club or the corner pub doesn't mean it will play well online. Many of us tend to live in a bubble with like-minded folks, but it's a big wide world out there and you're almost sure to offend someone if you discuss these topics.
If you have to make fun of someone, make fun of yourself. Find humor in situations or in yourself. Don't find humor in others. Don't make fun of people based on stereotypes, whether gendered, racial or cultural. Stop falling back on excuses like "Nobody has a sense of humor anymore," "Everyone's so sensitive," or those old standbys, "political correctness" and "cancel culture." The problem is not the person you're ridiculing. The problem is you.
Some people do have a gift for creating humorous content that hits people the right way. Some people don't. If you are in any doubt about the appropriateness of your content, you probably shouldn't run it. It's better to waste a little time on a video you don't end up running than to damage your reputation and that of the rest of your team or brokerage.