Agents of Cracked Proves Consistently Funny

A web series about the inner workings of a comedy website is the kind of formula you’d think would only work once. But Cracked.com’s Agents of Cracked proves yet again that execution makes all the difference.

To be clear: Agents of Cracked is really quite funny. While ultimately a classic Odd Couple tale of two guys forced to work together on Cracked’s listicles and video content, the set-up pays deliberate homage to Lethal Weapon. In addition, though, the interplay between Michael (Michael Swaim) and Dan (Daniel O’Brien) over the first two seasons manages to evolve and grow in complexity while keeping true to the core element that make it work: Namely, Daniel playing straight man to Michael.

That’s not to say that Dan doesn’t get his moments — a recent episode, in which he is confronted with his own doppleganger, is a great example of the strange and awkward humor Agents specializes in.

Attempts at straight parody, like a Mad Men riff that’s really no different from any other Mad Men parody out there, are less successful, but the show has a clear original voice, a way of taking basic set-ups and finding unique twists to them.

Production values are as a rule top-notch: The writing is a notch above the directing, but that just means the truly funny lines sing out. The chemistry between Michael and Dan, something slowly built up over the course of the first season, proves to be the anchor of the show, keeping the wackiness relatively grounded.

And it’s definitely got fans, thanks to the loyal Cracked audience. The first season, according to Cracked, received four million views, with fans petitioning for more; its audience is so powerful and motivated that it was able to beat web series favorites like The Guild and Dorm Life for the Audience Choice Award at this year’s Streamys.

“We interact with the audience every single day, and we know how supportive they are and how passionate they are,” Swain said via phone.

“This is what happens when you encourage people to comment and share and contribute to the content creation process,” O’Brien added, referring to the Cracked Comedy Workshop, in which a few hundred active participants brainstorm and suggest ideas for Cracked content — including Agents scripts. Three episodes of the new season were written by workshop participants, who were paid for their labors.

Agents of Cracked doesn’t really delve into any of this; the business of running a website isn’t necessarily the focus. And while it’s not pushing the boundaries of what online comedy is capable of, it does manage to be consistently laugh-out-loud funny — which is a great accomplishment.

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