Old School Comedians Complain About The Internet

from the when-I-was-your-age-I-performed-to-3-people-in-a-shack-and-I-liked-it dept

Well, it seems bound to happen in just about any profession that has been impacted by the internet in some way. Eventually, the "older generation" is going to whine and complain about "the way things used to be." Apparently that's even true of stand up comedians. A bunch of stand up comedians are apparently worried about the internet's impact on young up-and-coming stand-ups, because (I kid you not), they're worried that the internet lets young standups have too big an audience. The reasoning is basically that it's better for young comics to fail in front of small audiences, learn their lesson and get better. Of course, what none of the complaining comics explain is why those "bad" young comics will have that big an audience in the first place if they're so bad. No one's going to watch them.

These same comics seem to ignore the flip side of the coin -- which is that a good young comedian can actually use the internet to amplify his or her comedic talents in order to get noticed and move on to bigger and better things. A great example of this would be Andy Samberg, who basically made a name for himself online, before being snapped up by Saturday Night Live. It certainly doesn't seem like there's any lack of young comedic talent these days compared to in the past, and it seems like the internet often creates a much better feedback loop for those young comics. But, of course, since it's "not the way we did it"(TM) it must be bad.
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Filed Under: comedians, culture, internet, stand up comics


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  1. identicon
    Anon2, 7 Nov 2008 @ 8:11am

    Upsides and downsides

    I think the original post is an extremely inaccurate, narrowly selective description of the article and of the comments of most older comedians who are quoted in it. The article itself, and many of those quoted, does not focus on relative size of audience, but only notes that as one minor issue. The focus, rather, is on the observations by some that the dynamic is different, because making videos for the internet does not ordinarily involve interaction with a live audience. But those observers are not really saying that this is a bad thing, they are simply noting that it's different. Also noted is that what seems to succeed the best on the internet is sketch comedy, but that standup routines still require a club, because a standup comic is making a lot of different jokes, and people are going to be less inclined to forward a comic's routine.

    I think it's an intelligent article. It also makes the point that internet fame can be both fast and fleeting, and in that sense, it doesn't necessarily displace any of the other ways that comics build their careers. I.e., it's a new development, providing a whole range of new tools and opportunities, and it will help some and probably will be of less help to some others.

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