For many people, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a godsend during the early days of the pandemic. Hanging out with our little animal buddies made those early weeks of isolation slightly more bearable, and the game’s steady addition of new features and events have kept us checking in on our island every few weeks since. At this point Animal Crossing: New Horizons is like an old friend that we catch up with when we have the time—something comforting and reassuring, but not necessarily a daily obsession anymore.
For comedian Jenn Welch, though, Animal Crossing is something more than that: it’s the perfect tool for recreating Casper Kelly’s legendary Adult Swim short “Too Many Cooks.”
Earlier this week Welch unleashed her masterpiece “Too Many Nooks” upon an unsuspecting world. The video recreates the original as closely as possible when the only tools in play are Animal Crossing, with those familiar big-headed villagers standing in for the legion of actors from the short. Welch goes through, scene-by-scene, using the game’s decorating options to recraft the sets from Kelly’s video. She doesn’t use Animal Crossing’s very limited music-writing tool to recreate the theme song, but that’s okay: it’d be entirely unrecognizable if she did that.
Fans of a certain beloved Animal Crossing might be very pleased when they see who plays Snarf. Or, uh, very disturbed when they see what happens to Snarf. And the choice for the murderer, well… just imagine you’re seeing that chef’s kiss emoji right here.
This isn’t Welch’s first foray into Animal Crossing pop culture mashups. In December she remade the Mean Girls talent show scene within the game. The “Too Many Cooks” remake came from a far less celebratory place, though.
Talking to Paste, Welch tributes the original idea for the video to an unlikely inspiration: the Washington, D.C. riot and Capitol raid on Jan. 6. “Like most people I spent the entire day in shock, watching the news,” Welch tells us. “I have ADHD and PTSD so when stuff like that happens in the world I can kind of hyperfixate on it, and I’ve learned to give myself projects that I can hyperfocus on instead. So I figured I’d do another Animal Crossing video.”
Initially she was going to focus on an actual sitcom opening sequence, instead of a parody of them. Her Animal Crossing island has two female sheep and one male sheep, and her plan was to use them to recreate the opening to Three’s Company.
“Going through all the intros for all the seasons of Three’s Company, I suddenly remembered ‘Too Many Cooks,’” Welch says. “How could I forget? And as soon as I started it my brain was like yes this is the thing that we need.”
She sums up the project in the most apt way possible: “It was the perfect combination of challenging and absurd.”
If you’re familiar with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you know how time-intensive it can be to design a house and set up a photograph. There are also many limitations within the game that made extensive editing necessary. “You can only hair / makeup / wardrobe/ film one human character at a time so every shot with multiple characters was made by combining shots,” Welch points out. As such, it took Welch well over 100 hours to finish this video. “I spent five to six hours a day on it from [January 6] until Feb. 2, when I posted it,” she says.
Along the way the project kept getting more elaborate, and Welch kept developing new skills to complete it. “At some point I realized I’d need to create a green screen room to film a bunch of the shots and taught myself how to chroma key. I taught myself some basic after effects for all the credits,” she says. It’s a good example of how to deal with the stress and anxiety of this messed-up world we’re living in, channeling it into something creative and also cultivating knowledge and experience that’ll come in handy in the future.
Welch might not be done with Animal Crossing as a medium. “I definitely want to keep creating these,” she says, “but the next one needs to be more challenging and more absurd. Like can I recreate Synecdoche, New York in Animal Crossing?”
For his part, Caspter Kelly, the mastermind behind “Too Many Cooks,” might be this video’s biggest fan. “Jenn’s piece is amazing,” he told Paste. “The detail shows she’s a woman obsessed. Or possibly possessed. And that’s my favorite kind of person!”
Whether you’re a fan of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, “Too Many Cooks,” or neither, you should probably check out this video. You can stream it above, or at Welch’s YouTube channel. You won’t forget it. Also, go follow Jenn Welch on Twitter, while you’re at it.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, music, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.