*This list was original posted on 06/12/2019 and was updated on 19/05/2020 to include new information, or new entries to the list.
Cracked is an American humor website and YouTube channel, which came from the now defunct humour magazine of the same name. The magazine was founded in 1958 and was published somewhat erratically until it ran its final issue in February 2007, however the Cracked name did not die with that final magazine issue, instead in 2005 Cracked.com was founded to supplement and eventually replace it. The site was established by Jack O’Brien and by the time the magazine was finishing up, the site was attracting several hundred thousand unique users per month, as well as generating 3 or 4 million page views, with these numbers jumping up to about 17 million unique visitors and 300 million page views by February 2012. Cracked, is often compared to Collegehumor because both began to dominate similar demographics in the early 2000s, both focused on humor content and both ran a website and YouTube channel, so with that in mind, once you’re finished with this list, you might also want to check out my Top 10 lists for Collegehumor, these represent both standalone videos and those which are part of an extended series, and you can find them by clicking here and here respectively.
I have been a fan of Cracked as a website, and a YouTube channel since about 2008 or 2009, and while my interest has been more focused on their video content than their articles and listicles I’ve nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed being a member of their audience over the years. Things however began to shift when in June 2017 Jack O’Brien, the editor-in-chief stepped down from his position to pursue opportunities with the podcasting division of HowStuffWorks. After this, and perhaps because they were aware of upcoming changes, or just because new opportunities presented themselves, other members of Cracked’s staff also left the company. In October 2017 Soren Bowie moved on and became a writer for American Dad and Michael Swaim decided to pursue some new ventures, including making his own own fan backed content on his channel, Small Beans. He later started working for IGN in a senior video content creator position.
Perhaps because of the loss of several notable personalities or because of financial issues behind the scenes, Cracked made the decision on the 4th December 2017 to lay off 25 members of their site, this included the entire video team, and as such the YouTube channel was for all intents and purposes silent. This in my opinion was obviously not a great decision for Cracked, it may or may not have been necissary, but it was largely out of the blue for both the fans and apparently some of the members of staff as well, and it certainly could have been handled better. However from what I can gather the members of the staff who were let go, in particular the video team have managed to adapt, some of their familiar faces are in fact thriving. For example Cody Johnston, utilising a similar but legally distinct set up to Some News, a series he hosted on Cracked, created his awesome Some More News show, which he runs alongside another Cracked personality, Katy Stoll. Speaking of which you can donate to their Patreon to help support their content, something which I strongly urge you to do. Another Cracked alumnus Daniel O’Brien, went on to become a staff writer on the HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Anyway, as I mentioned above, the channel has mostly been inactive ever since, with the notable exception of the second season of People Watching which went up between 23rd August 2018 and 31st October 2018. I can only assume that the reason behind People Watching being posted so long after the Cracked YouTube channel stopped airing new content was because the show itself is animated, and the animation process is fairly lengthy, but also because the people who make the actual show only started crowdfunding for the creation of the second series during the summer of 2017 and so presumably work did not begin until at least late 2017. Speaking of which, People Watching is created, written, directed and illustrated by Winston Rowntree, who is also behind the webcomic Subnormality, which you should check out, and can do so by following this link.
Roughly a year and a half went by between the final episode of People Watching airing on the channel and any new content being uploaded, but after an extended hiatus it would appear that Cracked are producing video content again, with a new face and a fresh take on the familiar Cracked energy and views on popular culture. The new series, entitled ‘Your Brain on Cracked‘, the title of which is presumably a pun/reference to the popular and oft quoted anti-drug videos of the 80s, is hosted by Jordan Breeding (as Dr. Jordan Breeding). Despite still being somewhat upset by the initial lay offs, and the lack of Cracked for two years, I feel that these videos are a welcome return for the channel and I can’t wait to see more, you can find out more about Jordan by visiting his site here.
Anyway, that is more than enough preamble, continue reading below for what you presumably came for, my Top 10 list of standalone cracked episodes, and feel free to click here afterwards to check out my companion piece for this where I talk about my Top 10 extended series from Cracked.
1. Andrew Jackson: Most Terrifying Man Ever Elected
Not only is this a surprisingly funny video, but it’s also informative and managed to make me terrified of a man that died approximately 174 years ago.
2. How to Survive Life as a Character in a Bad Work of Fiction
I like metafiction, fourth-wall breaking and I’m also partial to pseudo-classical stories, like bad Pride and Prejudice fanfiction. So this was a grand slam of a video for me, and it really gave Michael Swaim, usually more of a wild card, a chance to show off his acting chops.
3. The Terrifying Conspiracy Behind Early 90’s Kids’ Toys – Nickelodeon Gak Parody
This is one of those totally surreal sketches that makes me laugh every single time. It’s also so realistic to those types of commercials I watched as a kid.
4. If ‘Breaking Bad’ Was Made For Kids – Board Game Parody
I didn’t really watch Breaking Bad, I usually wait until hyped shows are over then watch it without any pressure but for whatever reason it just kinda slipped off my watch list. However this sketch was clever and refreshing and just a little bit dark, not only did it make me want to actually watch the main show but it was just downright entertaining.
5. The Rise and Fall of the Most Famous Background Actor Ever
I like when comedy is taken to an extreme, or its played off as serious and this sketch really straddled both of those well in a fun little story or supply and demand and how we pigeonhole celebrities, think of The Simpsons episode where Bart says ‘I didn’t do it’ and you’ll get what this one is about.
6. Why the ‘Paranormal Activities’ Family Really Moved Out
It’s hard to talk about what I liked about these entries without spoiling what makes them funny but in this case the humour comes from subverting expectations, family obligations and people just being inappropriate.
7. Is it time for Batman to Tone it down
This makes me laugh every single time, mean logically Batman is a messed up Orphan who was never told no, so he could easily have turned out like this. I mean his suit is designed to strike fear into their hearts so this just takes that to its logical extreme.
8. The Horrifying Downside to Being a Superhero’s Brother
You don’t usually see Soren Bowie and Cody Johnston together which is a shame because when they do they can make something genius like this sketch about how having superpowers doesn’t mean you grow up, and being the long suffering brother of a superhero.
9. 23 Jokes that Never Made It Into Our Best Videos
Gives us a rare look behind the scenes of Cracked in their typical tongue in cheek fashion. Personally I’d have liked from across the page stuff because I found this episode really funny and interesting.
10. Why Last Action Hero is Secretly Terrifying
This episode is really clever, you don’t see the host often enough and it could just as easily have worked as a Today’s Topic but its genuinely funny, a little bit grim and also really NSFW me want to watch The Last Action Hero again.
Honourable mentions go to If Cereal Mascots Got Serious about Stealing Cereal, Why the Scooby-Doo Mystery Team is Terrible at Mysteries, Why the Worst PowerPoint Presentations Take Preparation, When Giving Away ‘A Lifetime Supply’ Turns Deadly and When Body Switching Movies Collide – Sci-Fi Parody which I also really enjoyed but didn’t quite make the top 10 list.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/