There’s no one in our generation who hasn’t heard of or enjoyed CollegeHumor. Though still active, the YouTube comedy channel peaked about five to ten years ago, when its comedy sketches and skits regularly went viral. Classic series like Hardly Working, Jake and Amir, and Adam Ruins Everything, as well as viral videos like "The Six Girls You’ll Date in College," were foundational to internet humor at the time and linger on in our comedic consciousness.
Though CollegeHumor has had hits in recent years as well, such as its CEO series, and the channel's videos still rack up hundreds of thousands of views, their virality has diminished. As their core audience graduated, their content, as well, shifted from the titular college–focused humor to more workplace and office–oriented skits. That’s not to say the quality of their work has diminished, though. It's still consistently funny, even if it's less relatable.
In 2018, CollegeHumor launched its own streaming service, Dropout. Though streaming seems an odd choice for an internet comedy company, it marked the start of a major shift for CollegeHumor. In early 2020, CH Media, which includes, among other properties, CollegeHumor, Dorkly and Dropout, was sold by its parent company to CollegeHumor executive, Sam Reich. CH Media was losing money. Cut–off from corporate resources, the YouTube comedy stalwart ended up laying off a majority of its staff. The transition foreshadowed the end of an era and the loss of a charismatic and talented group of people, many of whom advocated for each other on Twitter after becoming unemployed.
Since then, many CollegeHumor affiliated channels, like Drawfee, have gone independent. Meanwhile, some of their other series have gone dormant. However, CollegeHumor is still holding on, mostly through Dropout, where they are most regularly releasing new content.
Though it offers fewer shows than traditional streaming services, Dropout has a wealth of original content that has regularly brought me genuine delight and precious laughter over the past year and throughout the pandemic.
I bought a subscription to Dropout after becoming obsessed with the CH show Dimension 20, in which a group of former CollegeHumor–affiliated staff members play Dungeons and Dragons together. Run by creator and dungeon master Brennan Lee Mulligan, it’s one of the best D&D "Let’s Play" shows, even though the genre that has exploded in recent years.
Dimension 20 boasts an excellent cast and beautiful, emotional narratives juxtaposed with absurdly stupid jokes. Its multiple seasons speak to its popularity, and it has inspired gorgeous fan art scattered across the internet. Its first season follows a group of high schoolers traversing the fantasy setting, which is a mix of John Hughes and J. R. R. Tolkien. Another season is a modern urban fantasy adventure set in the alleyways of New York, while their latest campaign mixed Game of Thrones and Candyland—it's a narrative of political intrigue set in a world where everyone is food.
Another show on Dropout is a pseudo–game show hosted by Reich called Game Changer. The premise of the show is that the game changes every episode. If you want to choke laughing, one of the funniest episodes is available on YouTube. The series exemplifies the lighthearted tone, genuine humor, and talented cast available on the streaming service.
Another game show on the service, Um, Actually, has guests correct a series of nerdy statements from across fandoms, video games, and even classic sci–fi literature, most of which have one technical falsehood. It’s both a celebration and a light mockery of nerd culture, and it boasts a varied series of guests. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m a self–identifying major nerd, but the pedantic and self–aware nature of the show is just delightful. It’s perfect to put on in the background while you’re studying or working.
One of the funniest shows on the service is Rank Room, where CollegeHumor cast members answer open–ended questions and rank the best answers. If you want to watch the episode “What Is the Sexiest Way to Die?", it’s available on YouTube, and its name truly speaks for itself. Rank Room embodies the general vibe of Dropout’s improvisational shows: the feeling you’re just watching a group of extremely funny friends riff off of each other.
On a different note, CollegeHumor’s cast and content also shows its dedication to diversity. One of my favorite series on Dropout is the podcast Tales from the Closet, hosted by former CollegeHumor cast member Ally Beardsley. On the podcast, Beardsley gathers other queer creators and professionals to discuss their lives as members of the LGBT community, as well as their coming out stories.
Beyond these, there are many other offerings on Dropout, as well as compilations of older, classic CollegeHumor bits from back in the day. The other shows on Dropout are professionally–made, explaining the reason they’re behind a paywall. These include animated shows like Cartoon Hell, and more involved, filmed–on–site shows like Total Forgiveness, which follows two former CollegeHumor cast members giving each other ridiculous dares.
A lot of Dropout content, especially from their most popular series—Game Changer, Um, Actually, Dimension 20—eventually makes its way onto YouTube. There’s plenty of samples from Dropout available for free, and the service also offers a free trial. I’m not sponsored or anything, but if you need something original and hilarious to distract yourself from the state of the world, I can’t think of a service that more deserves attention.