Dear Soren, every time I watch the moment when you smile at the waitress and then unexpectedly cough up feathers in the Alternate Dimension episode of After Hours, it makes me laugh out loud. Every time. Was it hard putting aside your natural suaveness and social ease to play an alternate version of yourself? Or, the darker question, was it hard to watch the actual alternate version of yourself snag some screen time while wearing track pants?
So the thing about coughing up feathers is that it’s almost impossible. The minute you put a feather in your mouth, it get’s the slightest bit wet and wants to stay in there forever. I spent an hour and a half before the shoot trying to build a contraption that wouldn’t be noticeable and would allow me to cough them up bone dry, which meant that I had a lot of failed moments sitting by myself outside the diner scraping dyed feathers out of the back of my throat.
I finally invented a feather dispenser made out of a disk-shaped piece of paper, folded in half and filled with feathers, but with a tiny hole cut in the middle of the disk to allow air through the back when I coughed. I’m going to patent it and make a million dollars.
Before I ever published a single article for Cracked I would read the columns from Dan and Seanbaby and Brockway and Bucholz, I would watch Michael do Cracked TV and it was intimidating because not only were they each uniquely funny, they were all quietly real writers. Their structure, their pace, their word choices were so careful and precise that I thought, “I’ll never be able to do this. They’ll know. They’ll know I’m not supposed to be here.” But they couldn’t have been nicer or more encouraging when I started writing. The first article I ever wrote was a guest column because Dan asked me to fill in for him on Thanksgiving. When I asked him what I was allowed to write about he shrugged and said, “Anything, I trust you.”
Over the past few years as a columnist, there are a handful of articles I look back on proudly because I think they are smarter than anything else I’ve written, and inevitably David Wong or Jack O’Brien are at least partially responsible for all of them. Each time I turned to David or Jack with a bunch of loose ideas, they somehow knew how it all fit together immediately, like they already figured it out years ago and now they were just helping some slower kid with his homework.
If I push the thousands of reasons why Cracked is one of the best things that ever happened to me off the table and just leave my favorite, it’s everyone I work with. When you are surrounded by people who are better than you, it makes you want to be better every day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write a drunk column about which birds look like they fuck the best.
We both ended up bleeding from the mouth after. I can’t remember the specifics exactly (I think one of us got hit in the tooth when the other one came in too strong, but I can’t remember who that happened to and I certainly can’t remember why the other one was bleeding). It really drove home the fact that Michael and I are not kiss-compatible (unless mutual-blood-loss is your thing re: kissing [and if so I’m not judging]).
Soren made us film another take where the kiss was less “wild and intense make out” and more “soft, sweet and tender smooch-session,” which was weird because Soren wasn’t directing that episode or anything. He just happened to be there that day and after Michael, Abe and I had decided we got the take that we wanted Soren said “No, no, no, again, do it again. Slower.”
“So about a week ago, I messaged thisdanobrien (My favorite internet columnist/Author/Current semi famous crush) about how attractive I find him and how awesomely talented he is, and also about his interest in American History. He hasn’t message me back yet and I’ve been having a panic attack for 5 days. Just….stewing in my own anxiety. Fun fact for the day!”—
did you go see late night with seth meyers during fleet week? i was watching an episode and the camera panned to the audience. there was a dude who looked just like you. if it wasn't you, you have a (probably evil) twin.
I did. I met a marine while standing in line named John Tucker and he was a fan of Cracked so I sat with him, and also, it turned out, everyone else from the military. So it was a whole row of military personel, and me.
Some of my favorite moments in Cracked videos are when the people in them "lose their cool," so to speak, so I just wanted to say that your bit about crawling into a bathtub holding a toaster was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Is Open Breakup Letters gonna be a regular show?
Yes! It’s going to be ongoing as long as things exist in the world we hate. I imagine everyone in Cracked will do one of these eventually. Thanks for the kind words.
I was watching some of the older Cracked - After Hours stuff and I noticed your name came up both in credits and as an artist. Did you do that as commission-type deals or were you a paid staffer, or was there some third way I haven't thought of?
It’s just freelance work. I don’t do any of the writing or anything. I just draw what they ask me to draw and then they pay me.
Random question, but do eat real food in all those After Hours segments or do use fake tv food that looks really good but is essentially cardboard?
It’s all real food! By that I mean it’s edible and could technically be digested, but they are usually microwavable meals that are coagulated or hardened and lukewarm by the time we start rolling. They have to sit out for hours while we shoot and it can really mess with continuity if we play with them too much so I guess what I’m saying is that there’s not a lot of incentive to eat them. Fun fact though, if you go back and look at any of the episodes where we have pie, my mouth is full 80 percent of the time because, hey, someone gave me pie!
Are you in Welcome Back Potter and if you are, are you Draco? Because you would be an amazing Draco. I really want to see you as Draco.
Sadly, I am not. You won’t see me in the first season of that series, but maybe if we make another season I will show up as Draco. Or as one of those trolls that run the banks. Or as Hagrid’s motorcycle.
So, last week I made a post about Alex Noudelman, a “Top 10” websites mogul who likes stealing articles from other sites, then accusing the original authors of plagiarism. He can get away with this because some sites, like Cracked, have forums where the writers develop the ideas for months and months before the sites buy them, so Noudelman just goes in there, scoops up the unfinished articles, and posts them before Cracked can. You can look at all the evidence in the post I linked to above. Other highlights of his career include filing copyright complaints against the same sites he steals from, harassing the original writers and possiblyposing as a cancer survivor on Twitter (I’ll get back to this one later).
Yesterday, Alex Noudelman finally spoke up through his Twitter account. His explanation for all the theft? It was me! The guy writing this Tumblr post! Apparently, I stole all those articles, sent them to him to publish them under false pretenses… and then wrote a lengthy post exposing my own crimes, for some reason. Here’s his evidence:
Because, you know, teenagers haven’t been faking emails using a combination of “emailing yourself” and “MS Paint” since the dawn of time. (Note that he has my IP address because I left him a nice message asking for the stolen articles to be removed before this whole thing started.) Anyway, I told him that I would confirm the email was real if he confirmed that this conversation between us took place:
Dear Plagiarists, Cracked writers prove every day that they are borderline obsessive about topics that interest them and they are dangerously funny. I can’t think of a worse place to steal content from because they will come after you, forever.
I write a lot of notes throughout any given day on receipts, napkins, sticky pads for things I don’t want to forget, then I stuff them in my pockets and promptly forget about them, usually for months. When I find those wadded up pieces of paper again, the original idea has long since moved out of my brain and instead it feel like my pants are sending me cryptic notes. I have no idea what they want from me:
British actor, horse, were you in this week?, Dream.
What the Heart Wants gas station nachos
Europe: Peanut butter old people
Bounce when shit gets hot
Get to work on Considering
Stripping all the fun of making a video, forcing an author to picture the two of you meekly slapping your bodies together.