CH Media, doing business as Dropout,[1] is an Internet comedy company based in Los Angeles which produces content for release on its streaming service, Dropout, and on YouTube. It was originally founded as the CollegeHumor website, created by Josh Abramson and Ricky Van Veen in 1999,[2] and was owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC) from 2006 until January 2020, when IAC withdrew funding and the website shut down.[3] The current CEO of CH Media is Sam Reich, a veteran performer and former Chief Creative Officer of CollegeHumor, who purchased the company in 2020 from IAC.[4][5] In September 2023, the company formally dropped the CollegeHumor branding in favor of its Dropout branding, which originated with its streaming service.[1]

CH Media
  • CollegeHumor
  • CollegeHumor Media
FoundedDecember 7, 1999; 23 years ago (1999-12-07)
FoundersJosh Abramson and Ricky Van Veen
United States
  • Dropout (formerly CollegeHumor)
  • Dorkly (sold)
  • Drawfee (sold)

After it was acquired by IAC, CollegeHumor Media became CH Media which consisted of three main brands:, and[5] The former CollegeHumor site featured daily original humor videos and articles created by its in-house writing and production team, in addition to user-submitted videos, pictures, articles and links. Many of its staff also operated the sister website Dorkly, centering on fandoms and video game parodies in the vein of CollegeHumor before the site ceased publication of new articles in January 2019.[6][7] Like CollegeHumor, despite the website shutting down, Dorkly continued to release new original content on YouTube. Dorkly is now owned by CH Media's longtime partner for animated content, Lowbrow Studios.[8] Drawfee is also now an independent creator-owned company.[9]

IAC launched CH Media's streaming service Dropout in 2018.[10] The streaming service includes original series along with the CollegeHumor back catalog of over 1,500 videos.[11] Following its acquisition by Reich, the company primarily focused on production for Dropout until the rebrand in 2023.[1]

History edit

Founding of CollegeHumor (1999–2006) edit

CollegeHumor logo

The CollegeHumor website was created in December 1999 by Josh Abramson and Ricky Van Veen when they were both freshmen in college.[12][13][14] Abramson and Van Veen were high school friends from Baltimore, Maryland;[15] Abramson was at the University of Richmond[16] and Van Veen was at Wake Forest.[13][17] They began by posting silly photos of themselves as well as jokes, links, and other amusing material they collected from emails circulating among college students.[13][17][15] Within three months the site was receiving over 600,000 visitors per month and $8,000 in monthly revenue.[17] In under a year, they received a buyout offer from an Internet company called eFront for $9 million, most of which would have been financed with stock shares. Abramson and Van Veen refused the offer and continued to grow the company themselves.[17] Abramson said in an interview that they wanted to start "an advertisement-based business because at the time the advertising market was pretty hot and we'd seen other people develop Web sites that were popular making a lot of money." Their aim was to create a humor site that would appeal to the advertiser-friendly college-aged demographic.[18]

In 2001, they added Jake Lodwick, a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, and Zach Klein, a friend of Van Veen's from Wake Forest.[13][19] By the time the group graduated from college the site had earned more than $100,000 and the partners still owned 100 percent of their business, which at that time was attracting 2 million viewers a month.[17] The group moved the company to San Diego briefly[17][20][19] before settling in New York City in 2004, where they set up shop in a 4,800 square-foot loft in TriBeCa.[13][17][19] Wired highlighted that for people "who know CollegeHumor from its glossy sketch-comedy heyday, the website's earlier incarnations might be unrecognizable; it was a chaotic repository for the collective horny collegiate id, more of a precursor to the Chive or Barstool Sports than the showcase for UCB graduates it eventually became".[3] In 2006, prior to its acquisition, the CollegeHumor website had "about six million unique visitors per month" with "revenues between $5 and $10 million".[21]

Acquisition by IAC and expansion of CH Media (2006–2020) edit

In August 2006, Abramson and company sold 51% of Connected Ventures, CollegeHumor's parent company, whose properties include CollegeHumor, Vimeo and BustedTees, to Barry Diller's IAC for a reported $20 million.[21][22][23][24] After being discovered by CollegeHumor Media in 2006, Sam Reich was hired as Director of Original Content.[25][3] He was then promoted to President of Original Content along with the premiere of The CollegeHumor Show on MTV in 2009.[26] Kate Knibbs, for Wired, stated that after the acquisition "IAC wanted CollegeHumor to get big, and then bigger. [...] With corporate money and Reich's appetite for experimentation, CollegeHumor became a full-blown incubator for new talent".[3] Max Willens of trade magazine Digiday commented that "CollegeHumor was only intermittently profitable throughout its history 20-year history" but it "was consistently innovative and forward-thinking. It started to sell merchandise in 2004; in 2006 it began developing original video content, and by 2009 it was licensing original long-form programming to streaming platforms and television networks. CollegeHumor embraced revenue diversification almost a decade before most media companies were even considering it".[27]

CollegeHumor become known for its original comedy content. The site was nominated for the Webby Award in the humor category in 2007,[28] and many of their individual videos have been nominated for and/or won Webby Awards: winners include "Pixar Intro Parody" for Best Animation, "Web Site Story" for Best Individual Short or Episode, and Jake and Amir for Best Series. Their shorts "Awkward Rap" and "Hand Vagina" were nominated for the Webby Award for Best Comedy: Individual Short or Episode in 2008 and 2009.

In 2010, IAC launch Dorkly as a sister website to CollegeHumor; this brand focused on fandoms and video game parodies and was edited by CollegeHumor staff.[6][29]

In 2014, IAC merged its "comedy site CollegeHumor with its production company Electus, consolidating its digital studios, production companies and web entertainment properties under the Electus Digital banner".[30] Under Electus Digital, Reich founded CH Media's offshoot production company Big Breakfast, and moved CollegeHumor's video team to Los Angeles.[31][30][32] That year, Drawfee was also spun off into its own channel.[33][34] CollegeHumor was listed on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels, ranked at number 76, in December 2014.[35] In the same month, Fortune reported that IAC was considering selling CollegeHumor with the aim of finding a buyer who would "pay around $100 million" for the company; this was part of a trend of comedy websites and other video outlets seeking to be sold after Disney acquired the Maker Studios YouTube channels for "almost $1 billion".[36]

Willens stated that CollegeHumor began to use Facebook as a platform for videos which, in 2017, had a higher reach than YouTube. However, Facebook never delivered the expected revenue which led to a pivot towards developing a subscription service "by mid- to late 2017" to "better monetize its audience".[27] Video production staff were split – the staff for Big Breakfast, which focused on production licensed to third parties, was reduced to six people while the upcoming subscription service had a staff of over 60 people.[27] On September 26, 2018, CH Media launched Dropout, a subscription service that includes uncensored and original video series, animations, and other forms of media including comics and fictionalized chat conversations.[10][37] In October 2018, IAC sold Electus, which included Big Breakfast, to Propagate Content.[38]

On January 23, 2019, CH Media announced on the Dorkly homepage that they would be ceasing the publication of new articles and comics on the Dorkly site in favor of shifting to other platforms for new material, citing increased costs of the website and the decline of ad based revenue for publications such as Dorkly.[7]

Acquisition by Sam Reich and rebranding to Dropout (2020–present) edit

On January 8, 2020, it was announced that IAC was selling CH Media to its Chief Creative Officer, Sam Reich, resulting in the job loss of nearly all employees and staff.[5][4] The restructured company was reduced to seven people;[39] Brennan Lee Mulligan, Dungeon Master of the series Dimension 20, was the only creative left on the payroll.[40] Bloomberg News reported that, "IAC will keep a minority stake in the business, according to a person familiar with the matter".[4] Reich clarified that the company would continue releasing pre-recorded CollegeHumor content on its streaming platform Dropout for at least the next 6 months and stated that he hoped to use that time in order to "save Dropout, CollegeHumor, Drawfee, Dorkly, and many of our shows".[41] Knibbs commented that "Reich is beloved within the CollegeHumor community—WIRED spoke with more than a dozen former employees, and the praise was unanimously effusive, rare for someone who just laid a bunch of people off".[3]

In July 2020, a newsletter noted that production had begun on new seasons of various Dropout shows. The company continued to upload content on the CollegeHumor YouTube channel.[42] Also that month, it was announced that Drawfee was to be spun off into an independent company, owned by creators who had previously lost their CH Media jobs.[9][43] In December 2020, Reich commented that:

We saw this opportunity to sort of right size it. 'Okay, if the expensive content isn't moving the needle, maybe that opens up a window for us to do a less expensive version of this.' And it's that pitch that we made around town to try to sell CollegeHumor. And it's only when no one took us up on that offer that I went 'you know what, I think I believe enough in this to try to do it myself.'[44]

In July 2022, PC Magazine commented that the current slate of shows still reflected the January 2020 reduction "to a skeleton team with far fewer resources and full-time staff to create original content. When it comes to new, weekly shows these days, it's basically all Breaking News improv bits and game shows. There's also an incredibly heavy emphasis on the popular tabletop role-playing game show Dimension 20".[11] In May 2023, it was announced that Dorkly was to be spun off into an independent company, owned by Lowbrow. The announcement was made on the various Dorkly social media accounts, including Instagram and Twitter.[8][45]

On September 26, 2023, it was announced that the branding of CollegeHumor would be retired, in favor of Dropout. This included rebranding the CollegeHumor YouTube channel to the Dropout YouTube channel.[1][46] Reich stated that, "More people who are active fans think of us as Dropout than CollegeHumor now, and this message is almost for everyone else".[46] On moving away from the CollegeHumor style of shortform sketches, Reich highlighted that was in part due to the transition from advertisement-based video on demand (AVOD) to subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) as they felt they "needed to offer something more meaningful".[39] The SVOD model also allows Dropout to have editorial freedom as AVOD platforms such as YouTube and TikTok have a "censorship issue" – Reich claimed many topics may result in being "marked as not safe for advertisers" so the ideal content for these platforms is "a little milquetoast".[39]

CollegeHumor website features edit

Videos edit

CollegeHumor produced original comedy videos under the CH Originals (formerly known as CHTV) banner. In addition, the website hosted a large collection of user-submitted viral videos, encompassing home movies, bizarre sports highlights, sketches, and such. These videos were released one month prior to being posted on the CollegeHumor YouTube channel. The CollegeHumor archive of over 1,500 videos is available on the Dropout streaming platform.[11] In December 2022, the CollegeHumor YouTube channel had over 7.39 billion views and 14.6 million subscribers.[47][48]

Digiday stated that "CollegeHumor's YouTube channel was at one time YouTube's seventh largest by number of subscribers".[27] Wired highlighted that YouTube became so central to the company that they "abandoned" the CollegeHumor "website in favor of rerouting to its YouTube channel".[3] In 2017, CollegeHumor had "upward of 200 million Facebook video views a month, about twice the number of views then received by CollegeHumor videos on YouTube"; by 2019, the Facebook video monthly views slipped "to about one-third of the 2017 tally".[27] The Washington Post opined that the pivot to partnering with Facebook "probably sounded the death knell for the humor site" as Facebook had falsely inflated video metrics.[49] In contrast, Wired commented that its sources "suggested YouTube was far more central and influential to CollegeHumor's business model than" Facebook – CollegeHumor ran into trouble creating videos which YouTube would allow monetization of as flagged videos would be banned from advertisement placement.[3]

Pictures edit

CollegeHumor's pictures section featured user-submitted photographs. Like the site's videos, CollegeHumor's pictures were of a humorous or bizarre nature.[50] CollegeHumor also occasionally held photo-based contests for its users. This feature has since fallen out of use and is no longer updated.

In 2011, Kevin Morris of The Daily Dot reported that CollegeHumor had lifted several images from Reddit without permission of the copyright holders and had added the CollegeHumor logo to these images.[51]

Articles edit

CollegeHumor posted original writing from its staff and users, including humorous essays, comics, interviews and weekly columns on sports, video games, college life, and dating. Contributing writers to the site have included notable comedians Steve Hofstetter, Christian Finnegan, Brooks Wheelan, Paul Scheer, Amir Blumenfeld, and Judah Friedlander. Andrew Bridgman curated the articles and edited the website's front page.[52]

CH Originals edit

Jeff Rubin at the CollegeHumor presentation at the 2012 New York Comic Con

CH Originals, established by Sam Reich in 2006,[53] was CollegeHumor's original comedy video section, featuring sketches and short films written and produced by the CollegeHumor staff, which included Patrick Cassels, Emily Axford, Adam Conover, Mike Trapp, and Brian Murphy[54] (among others). CH Originals videos included sketch comedy, film and television parodies, animation, and music videos. In addition to stand-alone viral comedy shorts or "one-offs", which are usually shot on location and feature hired actors, CH Originals also produced a number of series—notably "Hardly Working", "Jake and Amir", and "Nerd Alert"—which were shot in the CH office and starred the CH staff members themselves.[55]

List of CH Originals series edit

Most of these series are now available in their entirety on CollegeHumor's Dropout.TV streaming service.

Jake and Amir edit

A series of short sketches about two former CH writers, Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld, who often act out the odd couple act. The show depicts Jake as a regular guy constantly annoyed by Amir's idiotic antics, while Amir sincerely just wants to be good friends with Jake.

Full Benefits edit

A series of sketches written by and starring Sarah Schneider and David Young about two coworkers and their attempts to keep their relationship hidden. Each episode usually begins with them waking up in the same bed after having one of their numerous one night stands. This series ended when Sarah Schneider left College Humor in November 2011.

TV RPG edit

An animated parody of popular TV series using the likeness of retro-style role-playing games.

POV edit

Sketches shot from the point-of-view of the main character, often voiced by Vincent Peone, CollegeHumor's cinematographer. These sketches are known for realism and relatability (in a humorous manner) and are among CH's most popular videos. In most POV videos the phrase "How is that even possible?" is often used as a running gag.

The Six edit

A set of videos starring Josh Ruben, each of which feature six outrageous scenarios in certain situations, such as getting out of the friend zone or having "monsters" for roommates. The videos are narrated in second-person, using Ruben as an analogy for the viewer.

Prank War edit

A series that documents the escalating pranks that are played between former CH staffers Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumenfeld. Prank War gained national notoriety after Amir staged a fake public marriage proposal from Streeter to his girlfriend Sharon at a New York Yankees game. The incident was known as "The Yankee Prankee" and was later featured on VH1's "40 Greatest Pranks Part 2".[56] Seidell and Blumenfeld have appeared twice on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to discuss their pranks. They have both since acknowledged the pranks to be pre-planned in advance and fake.

The All-Nighter edit

An annual event started in 2007 in which the CH staff shoots and posts 12 videos in one night between 9 pm and 9 am. While doing so, they communicate with fans via Twitter and UStream.

Dire Consequences edit

A series involving Kevin Corrigan and Brian K. Murphy, who each bet each other to do a wacky action, such as wearing progressively smaller clothes as a day goes by, or playing paintball solo against a group of US Army soldiers. The person who does these things is usually chosen at the beginning of the episode.

Adam Ruins Everything edit

A series that has Adam Conover informing the other character and the audience about the misconceptions related to the character's statement. Adam also voices versions of himself in animated segments with some of them being narrated by Chris Parnell. This segment later gained a TV spin-off on truTV.

IRL Files edit

Stories about a never-seen narrator who gets involved in wacky situations.

Very Mary-Kate edit

A series that revolves around the life of Mary-Kate Olsen (played by Elaine Carroll), a rich young woman who is heir to Woody Allen, and her sensible bodyguard.

Hello, My Name Is... edit

A series starring Pat Cassels and Josh Ruben. Ruben is placed in prosthetic and make-up by their make-up artist Hannah. From the prosthetic, Ruben spontaneously creates a character which Pat then interviews.

Troopers edit

A series that parodies of sci-fi movies and shows, particularly Star Wars. Shorts mostly focus on a pair of stormtrooper-like soldiers, Larry (portrayed by Josh Ruben) and Rich (portrayed by Sam Reich), and the humorous problems that arise from working for an evil interstellar empire aboard a small, moon-sized, planet-destroying space station. Features Aubrey Plaza in a recurring guest role as the Princess.

Dinosaur Office edit

A stop-motion series released via Nintendo Video on the Nintendo 3DS. The stop-motion shorts focus on Craig the Triceratops (voiced by Kevin Corrigan) and Todd the Apatosaurus (voiced by Caldwell Tanner) as they work at DinoSoft Limited with co-workers Sheila the Stegosaurus (voiced by Emily Axford), Richard the Diplodocus (voiced by Brian K. Murphy), various interns, and their boss Terry the Tyrannosaurus (voiced by Sam Reich). The dinosaurs face typical office problems such as rushing to meet deadlines and trying to decide what to have for lunch while also facing less typical problems such as asteroid warnings on the news, volcano drills, and Terry eating the employees.

BearShark edit

A traditionally animated series that features a bear (voiced by Kevin Corrigan) and a shark (voiced by Owen Parsons) teaming up to eat a man named Steve (voiced by Caldwell Tanner) and always succeeding (though Steve always comes back) only for them to slowly develop a friendship with him. This series received its own video game in 2013 on the Nintendo eShop.

Badman edit

A series that parodies the Christopher Nolan Batman films. The shorts involve Batman (played by Pete Holmes), who—unlike in the movies and comics—is portrayed as oblivious and incompetent, much to the annoyance of friends and foes alike. Matt McCarthy plays a number of roles, including Commissioner Jim Gordon, Detective Flass, Two-Face, and The Riddler. Other guest stars include Kumail Nanjiani and Patton Oswalt.

Precious Plum edit

A series starring Josh Ruben and Very Mary-Kate star Elaine Carroll and written by Carroll and CollegeHumor's president of original content, Sam Reich. It is a parody of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It replaced Very Mary-Kate in the Thursday release slot of CollegeHumor.

The Adventures of Kim Jong Un edit

A cartoon series which is a parody of the Supreme Leader of North Korea and the propaganda of that country. Kim Jong-un is shown to possess various abilities and powers, which he uses to battle enemies of the state, plotting to harm True Korea. His adversaries are generally depicted as weak and foolish individuals. Typically the ending of each episode features a scene in which Kim Jong-un's recently deceased father returns from the dead in some way and violently fights with his son. His enemies are mostly shown as democratic leaders like Obama. Kim rides on a unicorn that flies on a flying carpet.

Furry Force edit

A cartoon series featuring anthropomorphic superheroes which won the 2014 Ursa Major award for "Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short Work or Series". Described to be a cartoon on Fox Kids, Furry Force tells the story of four teens named Leon (voiced by Brian K. Murphy), Gary (voiced by Caldwell Tanner), Callie (voiced by Emily Axford), and Trang (voiced by Rachel Ilg) who become anthropomorphic animals to take on the evil plots of Victor Vivisector (voiced by Adam Conover) and his henchmen Hip Hop (voiced by Adam Conover) and Krunk (voiced by Josh Ruben) that mostly involve turning the forest into a parking lot. Leon turns into an anthropomorphic lion in a male g-string, Gary turns into a "wolftaur", Callie turns into an anthropomorphic squirrel with large breasts, and Trang turns into an anthropomorphic cow with udder-shaped breasts. The Furry Force's animal forms appear to be a combination of both gross and sexy to most people in a given episode, which often causes Hip Hop and Krunk to kill themselves (yet turn up alive in the next episode).[57]

If Google was a Guy edit

Actor Brian Huskey personifies the search engine Google, who deals with a variety of people who come into his office and tells him what to search. He reacts to the search depending on the person searching and the actual question. Cameos of other website personas include Siri (Alison Becker), WebMD (Roger Anthony), the NSA (Brian Sacca), and Bing (Randall Park). Other notable guest stars include Colton Dunn, George Basil, D'Arcy Carden, Milana Vayntrub, Jon Gabrus, Alison Rich, Nathan Barnatt, with Mark McGrath and Charles Shaughnessy as themselves. Jewel guest starred as herself in a special animated episode released during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hot Date edit

Brian K. Murphy and Emily Axford attempt a lovely night out for a romantic meal, but sadly blow their chances by bringing themselves.

WTF 101 edit

A cartoon series parodying The Magic School Bus featuring students learning about biology, history, and other subjects, usually in a gross and/or disturbing manner. Mary Pat Gleason voiced the deranged teacher, Professor Foxtrot.

Other series edit

Previously, CH Originals produced The Michael Showalter Showalter, a Charlie Rose-style comedic interview series hosted by Michael Showalter and featuring guests such as Paul Rudd, Andy Samberg, David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, and Michael Cera. They also gained notoriety for Street Fighter: The Later Years, which was nominated for "Best Series" by YouTube's Video Awards.[58] In 2011, they featured Bad Dads, a series of five, three-minute shorts starring Michael Cera and Will Hines. The series was written, directed, and produced by Derek Westerman.

Also previously produced by College Humor were Bleep Bloop and Nerd Alert. Bleep Bloop was a video-game-based talk show hosted by Jeff Rubin and Patrick Cassels, featuring various guests. Many comedians were featured on the show.

The CollegeHumor Show edit

On December 17, 2008, announced The CollegeHumor Show, a scripted comedy that premiered on MTV on February 8, 2009.[59] The half-hour comedy was written by and starred nine CollegeHumor editorial staff members (Ricky Van Veen, Jake Hurwitz, Amir Blumenfeld, Dan Gurewitch, Patrick Cassels, Sarah Schneider, Streeter Seidell, Sam Reich and Jeff Rubin), who played fictionalized versions of themselves.

Dropout series edit

In 2018, CollegeHumor created the subscription-based streaming platform Dropout, which became the home for a number of new scripted and unscripted series. After the company was sold to Sam Reich in 2020, budget constraints led to the cancellation of all scripted series in favor of more budget-friendly unscripted series. Ongoing series at Dropout include:

Dimension 20 edit

A live play tabletop role-playing show usually starring Brennan Lee Mulligan as the Dungeon Master. It primarily uses Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, and debuted in 2018.

Dirty Laundry edit

A game show hosted by Lily Du in which contestants submit secrets about themselves, and other players have to guess which player the secret is about. Each episode has a specialty cocktail in which the contestants can drink, and the bartender is Grant Anthony O'Brien. Secrets can also be submitted by both the host and the bartender to add further difficulty in the game.

Game Changer edit

A game show hosted by Sam Reich in which each episode is a different game and contestants are not told what they are playing before the show. In order to win the game, they must figure out the rules as they play. Special guest appearances have included Jewel, Michael Winslow, Ty Mitchell, Bob the Drag Queen, Tony Hawk, and Giancarlo Esposito. A spinoff was created, titled Make Some Noise, where contestants are given improv, impression, and sound-effect challenges. Guest players have included SungWon Cho, Jacob Wysocki, Carl Tart, Jessica McKenna, Lauren Pritchard, and Wayne Brady. Another spinoff was created titled "Play it by Ear", focused around contestants improvising in musical form.

Um, Actually edit

A game show hosted by Mike Trapp in which contestants win points by correcting untrue statements about pop culture. Contestants must begin their corrections with the phrase "Um, actually...", or risk losing the point. Guests have included Matthew Mercer, Rachel Bloom, Demi Adejuyigbe, Kristian Nairn, Doug Jones, Maddox, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Alice Wetterlund, Lindsay Jones, Zach Sherwin, Thomas Middleditch, and "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Books edit

  • The Writers of (April 6, 2006). The CollegeHumor Guide to College: Selling Kidneys for Beer Money, Sleeping with Your Professors, Majoring in Communications, and Other Really Good Ideas. Dutton Adult. ISBN 0-525-94939-9.
  • The Writers of (March 27, 2007). Faking It: How to Seem like a Better Person without Actually Improving Yourself. Dutton Adult. ISBN 978-0-525-94991-6.
  • The Writers of (August 15, 2011). CollegeHumor. The Website. The Book. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-82026-7.

Alumni edit

Many members of the writing and acting staff of CollegeHumor have gone on to larger productions after their time with the website. Katie Shepherd of The Washington Post highlighted that "alumni of the humor site have spread throughout the entertainment industry. [...] Multiple CollegeHumor staffers have gone on to write for 'SNL.' Others have gone on to work for critically acclaimed shows".[49]

References edit

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