Real quick announcement: We're launching an additional After Hours spinoff show, called "After Hours," and it's exactly the same as the old After Hours, except it's starring four brand-new people and the first episode is out today and I wrote it and I hope you like it and I think you will. From here on out we'll be releasing two episodes of After Hours every single month -- one every other Monday -- one with the new cast and one with the old cast and the first episode is below and this is a good thing and please watch it and then come back here for the real long announcement. Everything's fine, no one is leaving, we're just trying to give you more After Hours.
Real long announcement: Sometime last week I quietly celebrated the nine-year anniversary of my move across the country from Hazlet, New Jersey to Los Angeles, California to start my first and so far only full-time job as a Cracked employee. (I'd actually been working as a 40 hour/week paid intern the year prior to that, effectively making July my ten-year anniversary as a Cracked employee, but I was technically listed as "part-time" and "freelance" for that first year -- a distinction that was utterly meaningless to me, but not, I would learn, to the government, who noticed "Hey it looks like you worked 40 hours a week for a year without paying any taxes. Let us help you with that, using our very specific and crippling definition of 'help.'" So despite what it might feel like to you and I, there are arguments to be had on all sides for exactly how long I've been a Cracked Staffer. This is why in interviews, both Jason and I will claim to be the second creative employee hired by this company without ever really addressing it.)
In nine (but unofficially ten) years, I've been allowed to do some really cool shit at this website, but making After Hours with my former boss Jack O'Brien (who, as you'll recall, has since left to flip some copper wire he found and then "just coast for a while on the spoils, on the spoils of spools") will always be my favorite thing. I get to talk about stuff I want to talk about, I get to hang out with friends, and I get to showcase amazing art from artists I love, like Winston Rowntree, Nedroid, Starline Hodge, Matt Barrs, Cyanide and Happiness, and Bret Herholz.
After Hours is our long-running web series wherein four friends hang out together and discuss pop culture, augmented by clips and illustrations. And a lot of cool things happened to me through this show.
Through this show, I've grown very slightly as a performer, shifting from "He should not be on camera, he doesn't seem to know where to put his hands" in the early days to "Dan is OK for a non-actor, but he doesn't seem to know where to put his hands" today.
The show also did well enough that my superiors liked me more and eventually gave me more trust and opportunities. My title was "Assistant Editor" when we first came up with this show, and now it's "Creative Director of Video and Content Development, Concentration: THE FUTURE," because I've reached a level where I'm allowed to make up my own titles.
Further, the show got big enough that we get to do live panels about it in front of very kind audiences, and people have even paid to fly us out for conventions and other shows in places like Chicago, Austin, Montreal, New York, and Calgary. It was through these opportunities that I got to interview both Stan Lee ...
... and friend of the show Rosario Dawson:
Fun Fact: This was during the period of time when we briefly toyed with the idea of Rosario replacing Michael while he replaced her in Daredevil as Night Nurse. We ultimately did not do that.
Doing this show also gave me friends for life with the other cast members, which I didn't expect. We've been doing this show for seven or eight or a thousand years, and we shoot it from about 6 p.m. to about 6 a.m. There aren't a hell of a lot of people I can be around at 4 in the morning in front of a camera trying to remember a monologue about Pixar, knowing that there's a whole crew of people who are working hard and can't get home until I get my lines right. It's stressful, but I can't imagine doing it without Soren, Wilbert, and Michael.
We support each other when we're exhausted, and make just the silliest fucking jokes when it's the middle of the night. Soren and I (who clearly started out as almost adversaries, but organically evolved into close friends over the course of the show) literally could not keep it together one night because one of us started doing an impression of Jean-Luc Picard on the starship Enterprise demanding Gatorade, which is the kind of joke you come up with when you're sleep-deprived. The impression never stopped. Whenever the camera stopped rolling and we needed to reset, one of us would say some variation of "Riker. Riker. Number One. Listen to me. Get me a Gatorade. It doesn't matter what flavor, just get me any- Actually, now that I think of it, Arctic Freeze. It can only be Arctic Freeze. Or just any blue one. Get me a blue, preferably Arctic Freeze, but blue. Riker. Get it for me. I can do a green, but they've gotten clever with the green and I don't like it. Some of the greens are kiwi strawberry, so if you get me green make it a real green, but try for blue."
The coolest part about making this show to me is that it's resonated with people. I've never done drugs (unless you count caffeine or alcohol or, of course, all of the many drugs I've done), so my major high school and college vice was staying up too late with friends at diners making jokes and thinking way too much about our favorite movies and TV shows. Then I moved away, started this job, and we made this show without knowing if it would resonate with anyone.
It did. The first episode reached the top spot on the front page of Digg (which at the time, uh, mattered), and we got one million views in 24 hours. Any fears that this was a fluke disappeared over the next few months, as we released more episodes to similar success. After Hours is, without question, our most successful show.
Why Did it Take You So Long to Make More?
Everyone wanted us to double the amount of episodes that came out, but that put a strain on the performers (all of us still have full-time jobs) and the writers (most of whom are also performers and editors and other things). My mantra has always been that the only reason the show is good is that we spend a lot of time and people making it good.
We couldn't double it with the current cast. We're old people now, and staying up all night takes at least me out of commission for two full days, and the site can't really afford that. But we also weren't going to double After Hours unless we knew we had great people, and sometimes it can take a while to find great people.
Writers are supposed to be ruthless, and the first rule of editing is -- or should be -- "Don't be afraid to kill your babies," and I try to practice that as often as I can, but After Hours is different. It's wrapped up in the friends I've made, the experiences I've had, the community I've found, and the creative fulfillment I've felt. I don't know how else to say it: This show is precious to me.
I hope that's enough to convince you that I wouldn't be letting a new cast of After Hours go forward if it wasn't totally, unquestionably, and fully in good hands. A lot of the same writers and the same directors will be involved, and I'll certainly always be lurking around because I'm incapable of stepping away. But even if I did step away, it wouldn't matter, because the people who are now sharing After Hours duties are people I trust and appreciate and am often very intimidated by. Our fearless directors, Adam Ganser and Abe Epperson, are still onboard to provide continuity on this show and make sure we never settle for anything unworthy of an After Hours episode. Nick Rood, the editor who has put all of your favorite After Hours episodes together, is still here.
But Who's in this "New Cast" You Won't Shut Up About?
Cody has been with the site for a hundred years. He's one of the rare current Cracked writers who also somehow wrote for the 2006 magazine, and he's already written a bunch of After Hours episodes, and in fact used to be our cook, as an extra. I don't know how else to say this other than to say I'm in love with Cody.
Yazmin showed up to this weird After Hours space full of weird After Hours people and was instantly ready to play. "Ready to play" was how I described Katie Willert when we first started original After Hours, too. Those are two people who are present and opinionated and playful and game for whatever. Yazmin also reminds me of Soren, in that they both have an authoritative coolness that I will never possess, and I can't wait to see how that particular mix will inform future episodes of the show. I don't want to overstep my bounds, but I'm in love with Yazmin.
Kimia is my new muse, and I'm excited to write weird shit for her to do forever and ever, and if you've never seen her before, then I'm so glad that we get to be the ones to present her to you. In the middle of most days, I pull out a notebook and write jokes and bits for Kimia in After Hours. She is IRL a very good swimmer, and I think it goes without saying that I'm in love with Kimia.
Carmen. I've made no secret that Carmen is my favorite writer on Cracked right now, and she's also written some of the best OG After Hours episodes, so you must know the show is in good hands with her. I have literally in my entire life never met someone whose commitment to comedy was equaled by their commitment to decency and equaled by their commitment to ferocity. She's my direct employee, so I will surely get in trouble for this, but I'm in love with Carmen.
I've also always thought of the audience as "the fifth character in After Hours," so hopefully this won't be wacky to say, but I'm in love with all of you who watch the show.
The bottom line -- which is a weird thing to do because you theoretically already read the whole thing so you shouldn't need a short summation -- is this:
a) We wanted to make more After Hours;
b) I would not allow bad After Hours episodes to go out;
c) I am now announcing the doubling of After Hours with a new cast;
The only logical extrapolation from those bullet points is that the new cast is fucking great.
Plenty of everyday things have weird connections to the Nazis.
Sometimes the silliest goofballs get away with the vilest things.
The thing about plot twists is that they almost never make sense on repeat viewing.
The coolest thing about being famous is that you get access to other famous people just as interesting as you.