Comedy in the Age of Social Media

A quick joke;

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing; his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency service. He gasps to the operator: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says: “Take it easy. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says, “OK, now what?”

Pretty funny, right? The reason it is so funny according to BigThink, is because that joke highlights the notion of incongruity and the important role it plays in humor. Good jokes succeed by leading you down a path of expectations only to fake you out at the last minute; they set you up for X and then deliver Y. That joke is in fact so funny it was voted as the funniest joke in the world, on LaughLab, a website that collected nearly 40,000 jokes and had 1.5 million user ratings. The creator of the website, Richard Wiseman, poured through the data and wrote an insightful report called The Scientific Search for the World’s Funniest Joke. I thought one of the more interesting findings to come out of the study was that jokes that contain 103 words are the funniest. However, with the popularity of Twitter amoung comedians and comedy minded people, the funniest jokes may now be those that contain 140 characters or less. For examples check out these 25 Twitter Accounts to Make You Laugh.

As has been heavily reported heavily by Mashable, The Rise of Comedy on Twitter is Changing the Craft of Comedy. Many comedians have been able to reach new audience, and perhaps no one more so than Rob Delaney, whose tweets garnered him the title of Funniest Person on Twitter this past year, and have landed him in the political spotlight, just check out the illustrated versions of his tweets with/to/about Mitt Romney. In addition to the rise of Twitter, podcasts are an increasingly popular medium and outlet for comedians.

No longer the only way to get their message out, comedians are now taking full advantage of the opportunities of social media.

Comedians have embraced the do-it-yourself nature of podcasting and the lack of boundaries and restrictions that the medium provides. The New York Times muses that the popularity of podcasting with comedians can be owed to the format, “podcasting as an audio form tends to favor the personal – and what comedian doesn’t like to talk about himself or herself?” The number of comedy podcasts is steadily increasing, and many attribute the rise to the success of Marc Maron and his podcast, WTF. Maron has been described as the Comedian’s Therapist due to the open, deeply personal, long form interview format of his podcast. With so many podcasts out there, it can be difficult to figure out which ones are worth listening to, fortunately there are a couple of resources out there

The rise in popularity of podcasts has some wondering what this means for the comedy album (check out SPIN’s list of the 40 Greatest Comedy Albums of All Time) and whether it will bring about decline in sales. But savvy comedians are finding new ways to get their albums out there, and once again, new and social media is playing a key role. Comedian Louis C.K. broke the mould on releasing a traditional comedy album, and chose to self release his Live at the Beacon Theater show through his website, which turned out to be a very successful decision. And other comedians, like Jim Gaffigan, have since followed suit.

When facing of a difficult career path, be it comedy or anything else, recognizing and creating your own opportunities is such a valuable skill. Whether it is through Twitter, podcasts, or their own websites, the do-it-yourself attitude and drive of comedians who are adopting these new and social media strategies to not only increase their audience (and earnings), but also to advance their craft, is incredibly admirable.

3 thoughts on “Comedy in the Age of Social Media

  1. Pingback: Felix Baumgartner’s Jump into the Record Books | On a Quasi-Related Note

  2. Pingback: Round Up Ready – Best of 2012 Edition | On a Quasi-Related Note

  3. Pingback: Comedy in the Age of Social Media, Part 2 | On a Quasi-Related Note

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