Dobrow's Procrast-errific Web Video Destination

Media Reviews for Media People: My Damn Channel

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I spend 37 hours per day in front of the computer and have the attention span of a sugared-up first-grader, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I inhale a staggering amount of online video. Indeed, as I craft my masterworks of Western thought and struggle to locate that elusive mot juste ("luftmensch"? "jecoral"?), web video serves as the default procrastination apparatus. Mostly my wanderings lead to Springsteen clips, which I then forward to my similarly Jer-Z-fied pals. We've wasted 7,250 hours on low-res 1978 versions of "Prove It All Night" alone.
My Damn Channel's 'Cookin' With Coolio' revels in its own silliness.
My Damn Channel's 'Cookin' With Coolio' revels in its own silliness.

So no, I don't have a single regular supplier for my video fix, and I'm probably like the vast majority of web monkeys in that regard. For texty information and illumination and whatnot, there are 15 or so sites I'll check out every day. For video, I unthinkingly go wherever my idiot friends point me.

Happily, I've found a procrast-errific web-video destination in My Damn Channel, a better-realized version of the astronomically hyped, Ferrell-and-Apatow-backed Funny or Die. That's not a slap at Funny or Die, so much as an endorsement of the more comically consistent My Damn Channel. It's all well and good that the Ian Zierings and John Mayers of the world have chosen Funny or Die as their preferred venue for gentle image-tweaking, but such lazy bits pale next to the goodies tucked away in each of My Damn Channel's, uh, channels.

Where Funny or Die throws up a bunch of clips and calls it an afternoon, My Damn Channel showcases a range of distinct personalities. Funnyfolk like David Wain, Harry Shearer and Andy Milonakis get online mini-laboratories to call their own, and use them for everything from low-concept weirdness to wry political commentary. No one channel is like the next, though each shares a twitchy, absurdist comic sensibility that should resonate with fans of Andy Samberg's SNL Digital Shorts, "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" and anything involving alumni from MTV's "The State."

My Damn Channel has justly been lauded for the passive-aggressive (and educational!) comic gold that is "You Suck at Photoshop" series and Wain's vigorously quirky "Wainy Days" quest to find his fictional self a gal. The site's less-hyped content -- especially the soap opera spoof "Horrible People" and the self-explanatory "Cookin' With Coolio" -- similarly revels in its own silliness, especially the former's asides about how "a waxed ***hole is a window to the soul."

I also dig Grace, the gal who, for lack of a better way to put it, serves as My Damn Channel's hostess and hype woman. She has the Sarah Silverman I'm-adorable-so-I-can-get-away-with-saying-stuff-about-Hitler-and-weed thing down pat, but doesn't overplay the gimmick -- which makes it all the more rewarding when she sweetly intones "be nice to your mother, because you f*cked up her baby hole." Her presence keeps My Damn Channel from feeling like a guys-only clubhouse, a fate that Funny or Die hasn't been able to avoid.

My Damn Channel even pulls off the nifty trick of being entertaining in its advertising. Don Was' music channel boasts Lincoln as a primary sponsor, for example, but also tapes performances in the grungy "grand showroom of our sponsor, The Furniture Outlet, located in North Hollywood, California, at 13054 Sherman Way ... c'mon down for some great music and some great bargains on love seats and bedroom sets!" A bunch of brands that appeal to homebound drones like me -- iTunes, Wolfgang's Vault, National Geographic Channel -- have been in heavy ad rotation of late, as have web mainstays like Match.com and Peapod. They're all easy fits, just as cellphone tchotchkes and other portable media devices would be. Ads for new movies or records would probably get lost amid all the content, though.

The two potential worries here for marketers? One, that few of the clips are safe for work; and two, that almost none of the humor here is linear, meaning that devotees of Jay Leno and "Two and a Half Men" will furrow their brows in a futile attempt to grasp the punch lines.

In the end, you can easily lose yourself for 45 minutes at a time at My Damn Channel -- in fact, I kinda just now did, courtesy of the Lori McKenna and Jackshit clips on the Don Was channel. I've yet to feel a comparable pull to any other web-video destination not named YouTube, and YouTube's clip quality and smallish viewing window seem primitive nowadays when compared to MDC, Funny or Die, Hulu and the like. If you can visit My Damn Channel without meandering around for awhile, I applaud your self-discipline.
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