The bile behind this piece has been coming for a while so bare with me. First off a little background for anyone who doesn’t know, Collegehumor is a comedy website and YouTube channel which focuses on funny videos and articles. It has a sister site operated by the main staff called Dorkly which focuses on video games and the culture surrounding them. Collegehumor as an website has been around since 1999 however it didn’t start to really gain attention until the early 2000’s with the spread of personal computers and the launch of YouTube. And by and large it’s been consistently popular often compared to a similar site called Cracked (although in my opinion Cracked is a lot better) because both have reached a level of saturation on the Internet where it’s weird if you haven’t seen something from them even if you don’t regularly watch or consume their work.
Collegehumor used to be so good. As I said above I never liked it as much as Cracked but there was a lot I enjoyed watching and the slow and gradual deterioration of the site has been hard to watch…about as hard as watching any of the videos on the channel now.
As much as this review is criticising the very real decline in quality of the site It’s also an opportunity to look over the period in its history when it was still relevant and entertaining. With that in mind in this next part I’ll be discussing a few of the best hits of Collegehumor. In its heyday Collegehumor produced lots of great videos (and series) among the best were:
‘Hardly Working’ depicts the random and fictionalised events which take place in the office on a daily basis. I think it was so popular because you really felt like you were spending time with the cast while maintaining the scripted silliness of a show (In that sense it reminds me a lot of a Mitchell and Webb Look where the characters filmed a variety of sketches under the guise of behind the scenes but all for humorous effect)
‘Jake and Amir’ which is arguably the most popular series on the site and follows Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld two former Collegehumor writers who engage in random hijinks with Jake often being played as the ‘Straight man’ or normal guy character and Amir being the weird and/or random character. It’s quite sweet though because you can see their friendship develop in the series. It’s final episode aired in April 2015 and for many marked the final nail in the coffin for the site.
‘Full Benefits’ was by far my favourite series on the site it followed Sarah Schneider and David Young two Collegehumor writers as they attempt to hide their burgeoning relationship from their coworkers. Not only was it incredibly well written (by Miss Schneider) but it was well acted by two leads who have amazing chemistry together and know how and when to be serious and how and when to be funny. The series was concluded when Schneider left in November 2011 and I was admittedly disappointed but at least then there was still plenty to keep you watching.
‘POV’ was the series which got me into Collegehumor. I remember back in school when I was surfing YouTube and came across one of the videos in this series. The series of sketches follow the main character from his point of view (which increases the relatability and realism the show is known for) and show us his life through familiar little events such as being stuck in a traffic jam or a boring class. We hear the character’s internal monologue which makes it additionally funny because we get a running commentary from the world’s greatest critic (his own brain) this show is widely popular and fans have been consistent in their demand for more.
‘Badman’ was another widely popular series and another of my favourites. The series follows a bumbling, dimwitted, sleazy and just generally incompetent version of Christopher Nolan’s Batman (played by Pete Holmes) it was frankly hilarious and one of the last big things the site did which I’ve enjoyed. It lead to Pete Holmes getting his own show which was also pretty funny.
The Adventures of Kim Jong Un’ received flack for being deliberately inflammatory and just dumb but I found myself enjoying it in spite of myself. The cartoon series parodies the leader of North Korea paying particular attention to the propaganda in the country to humorous effect. In the show he has a variety of abilities all because he’s the gloriously powerful leader and along with his robot servant he fights the evils that plague true Korea such as democracy of the evils of western society. So yeah you can see why it might have been seen as inflammatory and obviously it’s not wise to poke the bear so to speak especially if they’re amassing a Nuclear arsenal.
Finally ‘If Google was a guy’ which is the last of the series that I want to discuss. It follows An actor (Brian Huskey) acting as a physical personification of the search engine Google. The comedy in this series comes from people asking Google stupid questions which are fine for an impersonal piece of software but embarrassing to ask a person. This was another of the more recent hits which showed they could still put out good content but they’ve lots more of the core cast since then and have struggled as a result.
Now that I’ve covered what they’ve done I can move on to the reason behind this review. Not only have they reached the Shark Jumping moment they actually landed in the water and got gobbled up (Nice little reference to Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps there) because they’re no longer the site they were meant to be. They were created by young people in college trying to make something funny but the cast are all older now and the focus of the show has shifted to millennial and first world problems which just isn’t funny and is done better by other sites and channels.
It’s not just the shift in content I disagree with it’s just that whenever I visit the site these days I’m met with generic clickbait titles that are pale imitations of what you’d find on Buzzfeed or Huffington Post and the articles which were once the backbone of the site and used to be entertaining are all just content filtered from Reddit and have no originality to them.
Now I can respect a change in content it shows they’re paying attention to the market and at the end of the day they are still a business but if releasing content is more important than making it good then perhaps they should just call it a day. It seems though that they want to focus on the same type of viral videos that make sites like Buzzfeed famous but that’s not what people watched Collegehumor in the first place and they’re too late to the game to make any real impact particularly since the main cast have been chipped down since 2008 to the point where the core cast right now are all newbies none of whom have much presence or charm and the few who’ve been on the show long enough to be considered ‘originals’ have been steadily appearing in less and less videos.
This decline honesty couldn’t have happened at a worse time because if they keep losing important key members then they really will just be left with dregs and what’s worse is that people will follow a recognisable face for example Adam Conover was a popular Collegehumor personality and he eventually left the site to focus on his show an extended version of the shorts for which he was noticed on the site called ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ and lots of fans might have abandoned the site to follow him.
I think they might be in for some tough times ahead unless they can try and bring it back round to what made the show popular in the first place. I’m not saying that they can’t branch out but every video I watch right now either feels uninspired or like they weren’t quite sure what they were trying to say or worse it’s just a video espousing the hipster/Millennial lifestyle that they’re all living and frankly i’m fucking sick of hearing about it.
Okay maybe I’m a little annoyed so to make up for it I will add that the sister site Dorkly is still consistently funny and shows they are still capable of making good content.
I wish it was just a case of sour grapes about all my favourite cast members having left and that I need to hate it. But I don’t dislike the new core cast they’re just not that funny. And sure occasionally i’ll see a video I like but just like 1000 monkey working at 1000 typewriters can create Shakespeare six reasonably okay people create humour if they keep throwing shit at the walls till something sticks.
It’s gotten to the point where I’m surprised by a good video and I can go weeks or months without watching anything on the site. When ‘If Google was a Guy’ was released and I watched it I realised I hadn’t seen a video from them in nearly a year because nothing had looked good. I hope they can recover because they still have time but the window of opportunity is closing.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org