The all-seeing, all-powerful, deeply weird algorithm means that no two people have the same TikTok “For You” page. But if you’re a comedy fan, you probably see a lot of out-of-context clips of TV shows. Sometimes they’re on the top of the screen while someone plays Subway Surfers below. Sometimes they have random music on top, perhaps in an attempt to skirt copyright — or just because whoever uploaded it was really feeling the Inuyasha end-credits song that week. And if you’re Sam Richardson, sometimes you come upon a clip of your beloved, canceled show Detroiters as you’re scrolling.
“I’ve seen it in my own feed: ‘Oh, I’m in this,’” Richardson said at the red carpet for Hulu’s History of the World, Part II. Richardson plays Thomas Watson, Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant, on the show. But he still has a lot of affection for his old Comedy Central show. “Audiences have been finding it, and I’m really happy about it. I wish they’d found it years before, but I certainly hope that new audience builds and continues to build,” he said. “Just so people can see it, because we’re really proud of it.”
Some of these videos are fan-made, and some are from Comedy Central’s official TikTok account. The network posts a lot of videos from shows it has canceled — including Detroiters and Drunk History. Richardson has mixed feelings about people seeing these clips completely divorced from their context. “Everything is contextual. However, when we wrote that show, we wrote a lot of hard jokes. So the jokes work on their own, but the context makes the whole piece funnier or a little bit clearer,” he said. “So I hope that those segmented pieces lead people to watch the whole thing, but I’m glad that at least they got the bits.”