Cracked: From ‘Mad’ Knockoff to YouTube Humor Original [YouTube NextUp Creator Profile Series]


Mad magazine may be America’s premier humor magazine, but many other humor magazines tried to get the same attention. One of them was Cracked, and according to its surviving entity, Cracked was founded in 1958 as a Mad magazine knockoff and “spent nearly half a decade with a fan base primarily comprised of people who got to the store after MAD sold out” before the print edition shut down in 2007.

Since the end of its print edition, it has flourished on the internet thanks to its website and, increasingly, its YouTube channel. The YouTube channel goes beyond just writers giving their two cents on the latest pop culture news, and features funny skits that try to answer questions like “What would happen if Pokemon were more realistic?” or “What happens if Google’s parents are away?” Many of’s writers are featured in the YouTube skits.

NMR talked to’s video producer Breandan Carter about how their blog content translates to skits on YouTube and what the creative process is like for them.

Give us the gist of what the YouTube version of is all about.

Cracked at its core is a humor site that specializes in satirizing common tropes in pop culture. We strive to make the most interesting and fresh observations on history, pop-culture, science, etc. We’re trying to appeal to anyone with a sense of humor who likes to dissect pop culture and discuss movies, TV and video games until they’re red in the face. If you’ve ever wondered why Hogwarts would hire a dark lord to run one of their houses, why Link finds random chests all over the forest floor, or why Ewoks are grossly underrated, you’d feel right at home with Cracked.

You guys originally started as a blog, but are now focused on making web series and skits for YouTube. Why do feel that YouTube is an effective way of bringing your humor to a wide audience and how does it complement the website?

YouTube is an incredibly effective vehicle for getting our content to the masses. They’ve done an amazing job of developing a relationship with the next generation of content creators and consumers. YouTube compliments Cracked by introducing a new audience to our particularly irreverent brand of humor and building a community with these new viewers.

What would you say is your breakthrough video?

Our breakthrough video would probably be “Internet Party”, a sketch created by Those Aren’t Muskets! (our head of video Michael Swaim and our head editor Abe Epperson). The premise is that Google is throwing a party and all the anthropomorphized popular websites are in attendance. We hit amazing numbers with it back in 2008 and it put us on the map as observational humorists. We actually just made a sequel called “Internet Office Party” with updated observations to keep up with the ever-changing digital realm.

How do you guys come up with ideas for your skits/parody videos?

We have 6-8 in-house writers for the site who discuss new ideas that come from our video forums, 3rd party contributors and our own squishy brains. We then give notes on the ideas, and one of the writers will create a first draft of the script that we’ll all dissect and discuss together. This happens two or three times before we consider a script green lit. This writer’s group includes most of the cast members you’ll see in our in-house videos (Dan O’Brien, Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim, Jack O’Brien, Soren Bowie).

How do you feel about the Cracked channel being selected as a NextUp Collaborator? What are you doing for the project?

We were very excited to be a part of the Nextup program. We garnered a lot of insight on the direction YouTube is heading with their new user interface. It’s allowed us to navigate the intricate elements of YouTube content creation with ease and learn the importance of collaboration and calls to action at the end of our videos. The YouTube community is just that, a community. And we’re incredibly grateful to become a stronger part of that. For our Nextup project, we’re developing a short scripted game show series that incorporates Cracked trivia and YouTube personality collaboration.

What do you think you’ll get out of the NextUp program?

The Nextup Program has been invaluable as a learning tool for our channel. We’re learning what YouTubers really enjoy and we’re building our channel infrastructure around that. Cracked has an established community on our main site and Nextup has given us the opportunity to nurture a new community on YouTube. We feel really fortunate to have been a part of Nextup, and we’re excited to see what the future brings. Hopefully robot suits that can make us fly. That’d be rad.

About the piece:

Out of YouTube’s thousands of creator channels, 30 promising creators are picked every season to participate in the YouTube NextUp Creator program — a sort of Hogwarts Academy for the very best of the YouTube best. They spend a week training at the YouTube Creator Space in Los Angeles, attending seminars, learning advanced filming techniques and interacting with some of the YouTube greats. In short, it’s a pretty cool honor. Since YouTube thinks they’re worthy, NMR thinks you should know about them.

So we’re featuring the Winter 2013 class of Nextup participants — 2 a day for the next 15 days. Learn about these fresh faces, love their content and then subscribe to their channels, because these are the next generation of YouTube innovators.

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