HowStuffWorks Taps Founder Jack O’Brien to Lead Them Into Comedy

New West Coast office will seek to leverage L.A.'s comedy and improv communities

Company's chief content officer Jason Hoch says comedy is "the first of more new genres to come."
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One of the final things Jack O’Brien put together at before heading out the door at the beginning of June after 11 years was a “Spit Take” look at the trouble Benedict Cumberbatch had with the word “penguin,” the difficulties encountered by Bill Cosby on YouTube and more. If you’re not familiar with the work and personality of that site’s founder and editor in chief, “6 Celebrities That Can’t Figure Out Basic Human Activities” is a fun place to start.

Many wondered where O’Brien was headed next. This morning, we have the answer. He will oversee HowStuffWorks’ new comedy division, from a West Coast office set to open shortly. From today’s announcement:

“HowStuffWorks has been one of my favorite podcast creators for a long time–Stuff You Should Know is actually the first podcast I ever listened to,” said O’Brien. “There’s a natural overlap between the voice I created at Cracked, and the voice Josh [Clark] and Chuck [Bryant] have cultivated on Stuff You Should Know. I’m really excited to launch a series of new, creator-driven comedy brands.”

Based on the send-off O’Brien received from his staff, two things seem certain. He knows how to mentor writers and create a fun, freewheeling atmosphere. To wit, one of the love letters in that send-off, from Cracked senior editor and columnist Robert Brockway, began as follows:

When I first met Jack O’Brien, he was taking a Bolivian Trainride in the bathroom of Armar la Gorda, a dusky Latin Satanist gay bar on the corner of 66th and 6th. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the maneuver, a Bolivian Trainride is when one man sets up a line of cocaine on his erect-

Is Brockway kidding? Of course. But in terms of all the farewell-letter set-ups, this was the one that easily cracked us up the most.
Previously on Fishbowl:
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@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.