Monday, February 11, 2008

World Wide Web: Toughest Crowd For Stand-Up

Judging from these two excerpts regarding cool reception stand-up gets on the web, it seems like the glory days of the genre were in the ’80s, when cable channels showed it incessantly. Now sketch is doing much better.

“When they say that all writers are storytellers, I just laugh at that,” said Matt Besser, a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, who recently started “A majority of them are, but there’s a lot of writers who write sketch comedy, and a sketch isn’t a joke, and it isn’t a sitcom. I don’t know any really great stories that are three minutes long.”
Sketch comedy “just has its day right now,” he added. “This is sketch’s medium, really.”

Dan Bialek advises that up-and-coming stand-ups put up a sketch or anything before they put up a stand-up video online:

There’s nothing that comes across worse via the Internet than video of standup comedy. You could be the funniest person on the planet and have a 20-minute tape of you making a packed audience cry bloody tears of laughter. Put it up on the web and I defy you to get more than 30% of the people who comment on it anonymously tell you it doesn’t suck. If you’re not famous and people don’t already know and love you, don’t put your standup up on net. You’re just begging for rejection.

Besides, standup sets (even bits) are too long for today’s 30-second, ADHD stricken YouTube audience. Ten seconds into your hilarious two-minute chunk on parking spaces, every Adderall monkey on Bebo will be heading over to the Bang Bros. to watch failed beauticians take it reverse cowboy style from men with Hepatitis-flavored tattoos in the back of a Volkswagon Vanagon. It’s not your fault. That’s just the way internet audiences are.

Instead, make a short video demonstrating your sense of humor using whatever you have around you. If you know how to use Adobe Flash or a similar program make a short animated series showcasing your material. If you’re flat broke and completely maladroit when it comes to tech stuff, shoot a series of short unedited videos using your cellphone, a borrowed digital camera or a cheap webcam.

Indeed the last viral stand-up video was Kramer saying the “N-word” over and over again. Needless to say, that did not help his career.

So to all of you stand-up comics who keep talking about “doing something online,” it may be wise to take the Taoist approach and do without doing.

1 comment:

Abbi said...

So he claims the people who will watch a three-minute sketch are the same that don't have the attention span to view a solid, two-minute stand-up bit.

Packaging anything for the Internet is more about psychology than brevity. Good editing coupled with good content means people will watch.

What does not translate to video or web is improv. When I crack that DaVinci code, I'll make millions in Blue Ray dvd sales.