Um, Actually’ review
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
The jokesters over at CollegeHumor launched their own comedy streaming platform Dropout TV. I’m here to tell you if their exclusive content is worth the subscription fee.
Um, Actually has been around as a CollegeHumor series since 2015, so regular viewers know what to expect. Host Mike Trapp quizzes three contestants on a myriad of nerd trivia. To score points for correcting Trapp, they must begin their answers with “Um, actually,” riffing off the one-upping circle jerk that is prevalent within most nerd subcultures.
The trivia questions range in their complexity and often return to the infinite fandom wells of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Pokémon. Some of the more interesting questions, however, dip into lesser-known franchises such as Animorphs and Magic: The Gathering.
I was never a fan of Um, Actually in its previous, shorter format (episode runtimes were between four and six minutes, whereas now they’re over the 20-minute mark) so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this new incarnation either. It’s a gameshow for a niche audience—and unfortunately there’s nothing for me here.
Trapp continues his role as host from the web series version and he’s charming as heck playing the part. Like he did in the web series, Trapp’s quips actually do a lot of the comedic heavy lifting in these new episodes, riffing off the guests’ both serious and long-shot answers. It’s not enough to carry the full 22 minutes, however.
I’ll commend Um, Actually for kicking it up a notch though in terms of contestants. Recent guests have included Alice Wetterlund and Thomas Middleditch (both of Silicon Valley), as well as prominent voice actor Matt Mercer (Attack on Titan, Critical Role, and the Resident Evil video games). Like the rest of Dropout’s programs, Um, Actually has also dipped into the CollegeHumor vault for guest alumni, including Adam Conover, whose truTV show Adam Ruins Everything started out as a CH sketch. The variety of contestants is welcome, in addition to other regulars like Siobhan Thompson and Ally Beardsley.
Another improvement from the web series is the show’s set, which has been upgraded from just a couch in a room into a legitimate-looking game show set. The background especially hosts a bounty of incorrect nerd memorabilia such as a cubed Poké Ball, Thor’s hammer shaped like a traditional household hammer, and a four-pronged Nintendo 64 controller. You can tell a lot of attention to detail went into the set and it looks fantastic—now if only the rest of the show had more appeal.
I’m not oblivious to the possible redundancy in reviewing a full-length version of a web series I already didn’t like. There’s little appeal in nerd trivia to me, but take Dropout’s other original program Dimension 20 for example. D20 took a concept I have very little interest in and made it into the only show—on the streaming platform or otherwise—that I tune into on a weekly basis. Um, Actually isn’t an inherently bad show, but it also doesn’t make a case to appeal to people outside of core nerd fandoms.
You can check out the first four full-length episodes of Um Actually for free on CollegeHumor’s YouTube channel, as well as several of the older web series episodes. Newer episodes can only be found on Dropout TV.