The Valleyfolk reveals they fired Lee Newton after winning NBC’s Bring The Funny

The Valleyfolk, a crowd-funded comedy troupe that rose from the ashes of the popular YouTube channel SourceFed last year, and propelled by its fans won this summer’s inaugural Bring The Funny competition on NBC, stunned fans by revealing that they fired one of their four members a week after that network TV triumph.

Joe Bereta, Elliott Morgan and Steve Zaragoza made a video on Nov. 1 announcing that they were going in separate creative directions from fellow founding member Lee Newton.

Only Newton, in her own video, asserted the three Valleyfolk fellas fired her.

This caused an immediate backlash from fans, with 21,000 dropping their YouTube subscriptions (The Valleyfolk YouTube channel has 274,000 subs today, down from 296,000 a week ago), and more than 700 dropping their financial support. The Valleyfolk, as of today, have 3,226 Patreon subscribers.

In response to that backlash, the three remaining Valley-fellas released a 44-minute apology video on Nov. 4 titled, “Owning our mistakes.”

They also posted an amended statement under their original Nov. 1 video that reads:

*UPDATE UPDATE* – This is our worst video, by far, ever. If you want to see us sit down and discuss this stuff as ourselves, WITHOUT DUMB TALKING POINTS, click here:… *UPDATE* – Yep. We totally messed up with how we made this video. We meant well and missed the mark…. bad. Sincere apologies. Here is our updated public statement: Friends of The Valleyfolk, by now you know that difficult decisions were made and statements were released, and there are lots of speculation and rumors going around. We’d like to address that as much as we can here. We understand that the video we released seemed a little disingenuous, but none of us were prepared for how to handle this. What we knew was, difficult decisions needed to be made and you all needed to know about them as soon as possible and it needed to be as truthful, fair and informational, but also hopeful and positive as possible. We realize after all of your responses that you would have preferred clarity and we respect and completely get that. There are too many versions of that video and it seems we just chose poorly. We did our best to be as transparent as possible while also maintaining mutual sensitivity. Unfortunately there is legal red tape in the way of specific details being shared. Period. That’s the nature of how this has to be. It’s not ideal. But for very specific reasons we just cannot share any further details. And we are sorry that it has to be like this. But know that the core values of the group are still present, and we stand by them, as we have during this entire process. We built this thing to share in our love of comedy and entertainment with our friends and fans, and with hardships that none of us could have prepared ourselves for, despite many saying we should never go into business with friends, we choose to maintain that. Regardless of what happens as a result of these decisions, know that they were made and presented to you while dealing with the pain of having to end a friendship and partnership. We are sorry if you feel like we’ve betrayed you. We expected some would feel that way. We are three humans who made a decision that we knew could damage the thing we built together and could ultimately lead to the end of it, but decisions needed to be made and we are now dealing with the consequences of that. With that said, please consider everyone involved and try to understand that the decision wasn’t made without a considerable amount of certainty that it was the right thing to do. And for those of you who have sent encouraging and positive messages, with well wishes for everyone equally, we see you and we appreciate you more than you’ll ever know during this incredibly difficult time. So what happens next? Healing, communication when and where possible. And we are going to keep making stuff. Because there are people who believe in us, and WE believe in us and this crazy thing we love and care deeply about. Thank you, -Joe, Steve and Elliott

Nobody has revealed why the quartet split to become a trio, leaving fans to speculate how much of the split remains secret due to personal reasons versus professional ones. After all, The Valleyfolk, in winning Bring The Funny, not only earned a $250,000 prize, but also signed contracts with NBCUniversal and won a slot at the 2020 Just For Laughs festival in Montreal.

Related listening: I spoke with Elliott Morgan about his life and career last month (before I knew of The Valleyfolk split). You can listen to that discussion here.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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