I write, edit and make videos for Cracked.com and co-edited and contributed to the book "You Might Be a Zombie (And Other Bad News)." Redditer Strongo told me that someone requested an AMA from a Cracked contributor, so here I am.

Comments: 1034 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

Mescallan1225 karma

So, what are your top ten favorite things about working at Cracked? Starting at 10, with a new comment for 5-1.

danielobrien560 karma

That is legitimately hilarious to me.

ksmv236 karma

Has Digg's downfall affected Cracked.com's viewership/page hits in any noticible way?

danielobrien187 karma

There was maybe a tiny hit the very instant they did that redesign, but not in any way that caused alarm. We've grown every month since then, and we're still growing.

l3uddha170 karma

My brother calls you DOB. It's pretty funny. He loves you and is going to try and become one of the writers.

How hard would it be for him to do that? He's only 16...

danielobrien381 karma

Super not hard at all! If he goes right here, he can sign up for our Writer's Workshop. From there, he can start pitching ideas and receive feedback from Cracked writers and editors. If his ideas are strong enough, they'll get approved and we'll pay him to write it. We don't care if he's 16- Ideas are king.

[deleted]141 karma

Tell us eight things we didn't know about you.

danielobrien385 karma

  1. I'm not actually as short as I look in videos, (and also real life).
  2. I'm almost never late.
  3. I had no idea the Reddit response would be this awesome and exhausting.
  4. I used to think I was going to become a doctor, because of the show Scrubs.
  5. I used to think I was going to become a lawyer, because of the show Lawyers Have Lots of Money.
  6. I used to think I was going to run for president some day, because an American Government professor I had my freshman year told me I couldn't be.
  7. The first job I ever wanted was "The guy who shakes paint at Home Depot."
  8. I still want that job.

TooEarlyForFlapjacks114 karma

Who is your favorite comedian?

danielobrien287 karma

I have to be a jag and go with the standard, obvious answer right now and say Louis CK. It's the same answer that everyone else is giving, but in my defense, Louis CK is fucking great. I also love and will always love Eddie Izzard, Mike Birbiglia and Bob Newhart.

God I love Bob Newhart.

discojellyfish80 karma

DOB!!!! Fuckin huge fan here! Look forward to every Friday. Anyways, let me get your danglers out of my mouth for a second, I have a few questions.

  1. How did you get your start?

  2. I loved Bartender. Do you plan on writing another book?

  3. If you had to be abducted, what method would you hope for the assailants to use?

danielobrien76 karma

Thanks for the kind words, Mr. (Dr?) Jellyfish, I appreciate it.

  1. I started writing when I was a kid, but back then I exclusively wrote a) silly stuff to make my friends laugh and b) epic, sweeping, fictional tales and insects, [mostly crickets]. I got my start at Cracked by submitting an article on a whim several years ago. Everything snowballed from there.

  2. Thanks very much! I'd love to write another book, and maybe even clean up and expand Bartender, but Cracked keeps me fairly busy, so all of my side projects happen very, very slowly.

BjornStravinsky72 karma

Whatever happened to Jay Pinkerton? I really loved the darkness of his writing style.

Also I'm guessing we won't be getting any more of these kinds of articles anytime soon?

danielobrien147 karma

Jay is writing for video games! He wrote the script for Portal 2! We love Jay!

scatterbrain_jane71 karma

Hey DOB, can't wait for the next season of Agents of Cracked. What's it like working with the spastic man-child known as Swaim?

danielobrien153 karma

Thanks, Jane! It's a blast working with both Michael, (he is as quick-witted and funny in real life as you want him to be), and his creative partner from Those Aren't Muskets!, Abe Epperson, who directs Agents of Cracked and most of the other Cracked videos. We get along well, because we have the same work ethic, ("an unhealthy amount of hours"), we have the same ideology when it comes to writing and comedy, ("Ideas are king, not idea-makers, so tell your ego to fuck itself"), and, also all of our dicks are exactly the same size. It's weird, if we take them out at the same time they all start buzzing.

Massawyrm66 karma

What is the process of going from pitch to published for CRACKED Freelancers? And what do you and your team look for most in a pitch (aside from originality, of course)?

danielobrien98 karma

Hey, everyone, it's Aint it Cool News' Massawyrm! Hi!

Anyway, a writer, (that is to say, anyone in the world who has a unique thing to say or a story to tell or a bunch of weird information about something), pitches an article idea in our Workshop, where it gets reviewed and discussed by our talented and attractive freelance writers, (as well as some readers, also attractive and talented). They give feedback based on their experience. Then the Editorial team goes through all of the hundreds of pitches and we meet to discuss them twice a week. We'll either say "Yes, we need to have this" or "Maybe, this could work if they tweak it a little bit." Sometimes we say "No," but we hate doing that, it does not benefit the site in anyway if we say No all the time, so if a pitch can be saved and pointed in the right direction, we'll do it.

Once a pitch is accepted, the writer has two weeks to finish it, and they are paid as soon as it's done. Then, one of the editors will take a pass on it, cleaning it up or making adjustments for clarity, or making additional jokes or whatever it needs, and then it'll be handed off to our layout team. They'll go in and throw in photoshops and pictures and hilarious captions and any other thing they can think of that can improve the article.

Then we run it on the site, and the person who pitched it, (who may be a 16 year old kid, or an unemployed musician or a Veteran or a lawyer or antiques-dealer), is now a paid, published author with an audience of millions.

As for what we look for, originality is key, and as a rule we love surprising and challenging information, but my favorite pitches are always the ones that re-contextualize something familiar in some new way. Any time there's an article that points out that a beloved movie is actually secretly terrifying, or that you've been fed a bunch of lies in high school, or whatever. Articles that address something so familiar to you and force you to look at it in a completely different way. That's so exciting to me.

tsuk65 karma

How did you start working at cracked? where do you get your ideas From?

danielobrien152 karma

The summer before my senior year of college, I was a fan of Cracked, so I sent a cold article submission to one of the editors, because they didn't have the Workshop in place or anything back then. I didn't know what the process was, or if they were even accepting submissions, I just sent it off. The editors liked it enough that they wanted more articles from me, so I did that for a while, writing as many articles as I could. This eventually led to a freelance editorial position. I did it for 40-50 hours a week my senior year, and it involved writing, editing, doing the layout for every single article on the site, and really any other task that anyone assigned to me. I loved the job, so I said "Yes" to everything and took every project that came in. The month I graduated, they offered me a full-time gig and, two months after that, I left New Jersey for Santa Monica, and here I am, with the best job ever.

I work hard, but I won't bullshit myself: I'm the luckiest idiot on the planet. I happened to show up at a time when Cracked was in a period of transition and needed help. If I showed up a month later, I never would've been able to weasel my way into this sweet, sweet job.

My ideas come from wherever. You know. Doing stuff, and so forth.

feelsmagical63 karma

I work at 1337 Ocean [web developer]... I believe you guys are next door.

Do you frequent Ye Olde Kingshead? Our office goes every Friday for happy hour... and we adore you.

Edit: I owe you a beer.

danielobrien75 karma

See you Friday!

kites4760 karma

How long do you plan on writing/editing/and making videos for Cracked.com?

danielobrien280 karma

As long as they let me. Right up until the minute someone realizes "Holy shit, we've been PAYING you to write dick jokes for the internet? No, no, I'm afraid this won't do at all, you're fired forever."

[deleted]55 karma

Why is every single article spread over exactly 2 pages, no matter the length? By the way I love you guys, you help me fail my exams

danielobrien85 karma

Does it really bother you that much? I don't mean to sound aggressive, I'm just genuinely curious, because when Brockway did his AMA, people asked that same question a ton. I guess I never think about it, when I read Cracked or any articles. I just think "Oh, this is on two pages because it is," and then I move on. "Oh, this TV show has commercials, Oh this movie has previews."

ladydungus52 karma

How do you feel when you see other sites blatantly steal your articles and style?

danielobrien152 karma


gomijin51 karma

Do you admit that men with beards should be paid up to four times as much as baby-faced manboys? If so, why aren't they, and what do you plan to do about fixing it?

danielobrien54 karma

Your car is stupid.

Eustis42 karma

I don't have a question, but I've read your stuff and I think you, sir, are absolutely fucking hilarious and it brightens my day to read an article that you've graced with your pen. Or fingertips. Or penis, for all I know!

Keep up the outstanding work and please keep the laughs and good times rolling in.

danielobrien33 karma


absolutepunt32 karma

Cracked is my favorite website. How do you feel about the new layout? I hate it.

danielobrien47 karma

I love it!

SharkPuncher31 karma

Have you ever witnessed Seanbaby committing a felony, and if so which ones?

danielobrien80 karma

Due to a weird legal loophole, Seanbaby has never technically committed a felony. Everything he does, regardless of what it is, becomes legal the second he does it, because police around the world are afraid of him. Putting him in jail would just prove that no jail can hold him.

thecward29 karma

Do you get to bone tons of chicks because you are famous on the internets now?

danielobrien112 karma

The amount of anonymous internet women that want to sleep with me based on Cracked.com's success is equaled by the amount of women in real life who don't respond positively to my "I'm huge on the internet" pick-up line.

It keeps things fairly balanced.

drodenbach25 karma

Why do you think your website has achieved the level of success that has? In other words, what sets your site apart from the millions upon millions of comedy sites on the internet?

danielobrien82 karma

I'd say it's equal parts strong content and our willingness to devour the hearts of our competitors, (in an effort to absorb their courage).

On the strong content end, we've been doing this for several years and, for the first few, we didn't have an advertising budget. We've never had famous people giving us endorsements, we weren't offering discount boobs and whatnot. If we wanted people to talk about us and know who we were, we had to make sure our content was as strong and as smart and as funny as it could be. On the web, your content is your advertising. So don't be shitty. Person B will only hear about your website if Person A thinks your articles are funny enough to share with his/her friends. We just kept our heads down and focused on doing good work and trusted that people would find us, (and they have!).

Cracked is all about having a very small team of very sharp, passionate writers, editors, programmers and designers. We publish between 3 and 4 new pieces of content every day, and every single one of those things-- whether it's an article or graphic or video or contest-- is discussed, workshopped, and edited by our team of smart, dedicated, talented people who love Cracked. We all work on everything, we all put in 70-80 hours a week. We all look at everything and ask "Can I make this better?" And then I usually add a fart noise or a dick joke, as if to say, "Yes, I can."

But that's the bottom line. Cracked does well because our writers and editors work hard. Laziness is death.

pleasekopimi24 karma

Holy shit. Huge fan. No real question, keep up the great work. Also, more After Hours please!

danielobrien37 karma

Thanks! We just had an After Hours meeting today. REDDIT EXCLUSIVE: I wrote an episode about Batman. Expect it in the next two months.

truebastard22 karma

Do you have vintage Cracked magazines lying around in the workplace?

... does Cracked even have a workplace?

danielobrien46 karma

We have a closet full of every single Cracked issue ever!

shartersbeshartin19 karma

How do you maintain factual accuracy for some of the articles? (ie your "5 things that..") I know that in the comments your writers are occasionally corrected, be it rightly or wrongly.

How important is factual accuracy in the articles?

How long does it take to come up with the captions for some of the pictures? And since they have to not have any copyright, how long does it take to find a suitable picture?

Also, big fan of cracked - thanks for all your effort.

danielobrien49 karma

I can say that we have never and will never outright consciously lie to you. We will never discuss an article and think "Man, this entry would be great but it doesn't fit... Eh, fuck it, let's just make shit up." We demand that our writers have reliable sources, and we all check those sources to make sure they're accurate.

That said, we're on easy sell on sources. If a book or two are both claiming that Thomas Edison did XYZ, we feel comfortable putting it out as a fact in our article, because we're saying "According to this book, Thomas Edison did this thing." And that's true. Is the source wrong? Maybe. That happens a lot, at Cracked and in life. We include sources because we want to invite you to follow up and do your own research, and you can decide based on that what you want to believe. We're just going to make interesting, funny, articles full of things we all genuinely believe to be facts.

DiegofromDiegoOSU17 karma

Have you ever had an article or video take off that you really didn't expect to do well, and what was that like?

danielobrien37 karma

The article I did a few weeks ago about things I'd tell my 14-year-old self did so much better than I'd anticipated, I almost quit my job, because it was so clear that I have no idea what our audience is going to respond to. That article a) wasn't in some wacky character b) contained very few jokes and c) is one of the more honest things I'd written for the site. When I finished it, I almost posted on Twitter "Just finished an article that absolutely everyone is going to hate."

And it blew up, which was surprising and humbling and rewarding.

InflatableBombshelte13 karma

I just wanna say "7 Workouts For Firming You Up And Creeping Everyone Else Out" is one of the funniest things i've ever read on the internet.

danielobrien20 karma

Thanks! I had no idea if anyone would like that one. I wrote it and just thought "Well, this is certainly... weird." I'm thrilled people actually enjoyed it.

[deleted]8 karma

Do you visit any other comedy websites regularly?

PS You make me chortle every Friday. Let's get you writing another article about how much of a badass Teddy Roosevelt is.

danielobrien13 karma

I usually check out the Onion and CollegeHumor, and I have been LOVING Splitsider lately. That site's really freaking great.

[deleted]8 karma


danielobrien23 karma

Acting is fun, but also completely awful. I very, very much prefer writing because I feel like my talent, if I even have any, is more on writing than acting.

I won't speak to how I am in real life, but I can say that Michael is like his on-screen persona only in that he is very funny. He's not really that crass or loud or excitable, he's just a funny, kind, tall person. We should get him to do an AMA.

I choose all of the articles that I do, but I'm always open to suggestions.

Thanks for the kind words!

[deleted]5 karma


danielobrien6 karma

Levao! That crazy motherfucker rocks.

jutct3 karma

You guys have a lot of funny. How is it that other sources end up linking to cracked to prove weird facts in articles? How much time goes into researching some of the more popular articles?

danielobrien14 karma

I can't speak to individual articles. I know Wong has said in the past that a typical article takes him about 24 full hours of research. I rarely write research-heavy articles these days, and I never added up the hours in the past. Like, when I did the Badass Presidents article, it would be hard to count up how many hours went into that, because I'd already been reading about presidents long before I even thought about writing the article.

Because reading about presidents is the sexiest thing a person can do.