Youtube Review: Cracked After Hours

Michael Swaim, Soren Bowie, Daniel O’Brien and Katie Willert co-host a comedy variety show on YouTube via the Cracked.Com network.

The show centers on four co-workers sitting around a table, typically in a diner, discussing different aspects of popular culture. The individuals each portray a different character type. Soren is the rugged, handsome leading man type, Daniel is the nerdy, unsure of himself social anxiety OCD type. Micheal plays the cool but clueless character who is often impervious to other people’s feelings with Katie filling out the roster as the chick. She sometimes plays the feminist, others she plays the typical girl in a guy group. Most often she is used as fodder for the table to crack jokes as her expense.

Each character supplies a topic of discussion from one episode to the next, then they either enthusiastically or begrudgingly (depending on the topic) discuss the topic at hand. Some episodes discuss what-if scenarios, while others ponder the real-world ramifications the actions of a certain film would have if the rules of society applied.

Each episode is mostly self-contained. Although references do occur from time to time, they often happen in the form of quick flash backs, typically call backs to a previous joke, such as Katie’s changing hair styles or the waitress reaction to the group’s orders.

The jokes often rely on a combination of the characters reactions to the topic as well as satirical references to the topic. A character might behave with “nerd rage” if the topic disproves a popular myth about a particular pop icon that individual character held dear. An example was in the episode where they try to prove Batman is terrible at his job.

There have been rare occasions where the setting will move outside the diner. Some other locations have been camp sights on the side of the road or when the diner burned down they had to move to a new diner and the characters didn’t even notice for several episodes.

The topics are varied enough to keep the viewer coming back. Some episodes will center on a comic book icon or an animated character, such as the Simpsons. While other episodes will discuss the issues of a certain sitcom, or theme of sitcoms as in the episode that breaks down the fatherless sitcoms of the 1980’s.

The show is written by a team of comedy sketch writers who work for the website, Cracked.com. The characters are also featured in other video content on the show. The main “host” Daniel O’Brian is the head of video on the website, taking on a larger role in other shows the team produces.

The production values are high. The sets look professionally built and well lit. The extras are professional in their takes. The hosts deliver their lines as believable characters in the world they inhabit. The acting is probably the only down fall of the series. The characters are more or less caricatures of the personalities the individuals exhibit elsewhere on the channel. When they do show emotion it is often over the top. While this is clearly done for comedic affect, it can become repetitive at times. The actors have demonstrated in other videos they have a limited range so it’s quite possible the episodes are written to their strengths. All in all it’s a fairly entertaining series with short episodes that often provide a brief distraction from the monotonous while also providing alternative perspectives on popular tropes in Hollywood.

 

Summary: The series combines aspects of Seinfeld with a group of friends sitting around a diner talking about random topics. The comedy relies heavily on the way the characters react to what is being said rather than the delivery of the jokes. The series is well written and professionally produced. The show should appeal to those who are fans of films and television that want to get a nice break from the norm with a entertaining and often humorous look at  films and TV shows.

The over acting can be a distraction at times depending on the episode. The series can also rely on slapstick comedy which is hard to pull off when the characters are confined to their seats. These are minimal nitpicks rather than true flaws, however they could be potential negatives to some individuals. The comedy is typically good while the shows topics are usually varied enough to remain mostly fresh.

Rating: 4.5 stars.

 

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