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Johnoco

Can Comedians Survive?

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I'm off the clock mate.

I can start the clock, if you'd like.

It's a horrible cliché is that, but I had to say it!

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This joins something I didn't understand either, I've seen on three separate occasions where "sending a tweet" is a punchline, I don't understand why it was meant to be funny. The worse being the trailer for Ted.

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Having read your contributions on the Cross code forum AT, I can confirm you are a comedian ok. ;)

But seriously folks.... Maybe the title is a bit misleading as I don't really mean that there will soon be no comedians, more that the way in which we know them and how they are watched/followed will change. 100 years ago almost everyone would go down to the local music hall to hear Arthur Atkinson say 'where's me washboard?'. What happened there? Clearly social changes and new technologies changed the way people watched. And the same sort of thing will happen here. Yes, I could put a clip together on YT today and get views from all over the world....but it wouldn't mean I was any good.

As for DVD sales, sure at the moment people like John 'just an ordinary lad from Liver-poool' Bishop are still enjoying healthy sales but I'm really talking about a few years in the future.

Comedian have to have a bit of a unique angle, say Bishops was being 'just an ordinary lad', how many more can use this angle? If you had seen 30 'ordinary lads from Liverpool' on YT would John Bishop have even got a second glance?

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To be a comedian in Denmark was straight forward. You would travel to England, write down and translate the jokes and then return to tell them in Denmark This was known and perfectly respected.

Then, TV started to cross national boundries and it appeared Danish comedians would be wiped out but they weren't, they adapted.

My only fear is that with less emphasis on writing and more on delivery, we will have more comedians like Russell Brand, hilarious to women and Americans, but utter miserey to all right thinking men.

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In the case of Franky Boil, I trust not.

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Thinking about it now, I suppose certain comics like Ross Noble or that bloke from Mighty Boosh are less likely to be affected by this issue as they are a) a bit more surreal and b ) more of a niche market.

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Comedian have to have a bit of a unique angle, say Bishops was being 'just an ordinary lad', how many more can use this angle? If you had seen 30 'ordinary lads from Liverpool' on YT would John Bishop have even got a second glance?

I read the Chortle website (UK comedian site) quite a lot and there is a lot of talk about the massive influx of 20-something males with scruffy hair and tight jeans all doing the same material. The cream generally rises to the top...but then again, so do the clumps of spoiled milk if you stir it enough. The top earning comics in the USA are generally those loathed by comedy afficiandos as being a bit hack/######. Dane Cook. Larry the Cable Guy. The unfunny dude with the puppets etc.

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Thinking about it now, I suppose certain comics like Ross Noble or that bloke from Mighty Boosh are less likely to be affected by this issue as they are a) a bit more surreal and b ) more of a niche market.

Until the niche market becomes mainstream (it's already there) and all the comics start doing whimsy material.

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Until the niche market becomes mainstream (it's already there) and all the comics start doing whimsy material.

Yeah but I doubt something like the aforementioned will ever be huge, huge. More like quite popular without ever breaking records. (nothing wrong with that either)

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It’s an interesting debate – I think the argument that Twitter is a threat to comedians is being over-egged slightly. I’d say Twitter has certainly lessened the impact of topical comedy, be it in clubs or on stuff like Mock The Week, because a lot of the topical jokes spread a lot faster. However if you get out there and attend comedy nights then topical material isn’t the backbone of the night – usually the MC will try some stuff like that, but the bread and butter of acts that go on stage night in night out are doing sets personal to them and their life experiences. As Hindle says, it’s the one liner merchants who are most affected by this because it’s the sort of humour that can work both in the spoken and the written form regardless of teller. Having said that, acts like Gary Delaney and Rob Delaney (no relation to each other) are great one liner comedians who whilst may not be mega-famous, but have admitted they have got a lot more work because their one liners are so popular on Twitter. There is also massive difference between what people will tolerate or think is funny on a computer screen, which has been thought up in a boring moment in the office, compared to what people are willing to tolerate when they have paid for a night’s entertainment in a performance venue – you’d expect a lot more crafted and well thought out sets.

The debate about repeating material is a valid one in comedy though, and comedians actually cite TV as a bigger threat to their sets than social media. This is because if you perform a bit on “Live at The Apollo”, it reaches more people in one go than you could reach in a year doing the comedy clubs. So if you repeat that section of your act in a club a few months later, people feel cheated. Some acts used to tour the same set for years, but the second they go on TV it “kills” it as something you can’t reuse. It’s the reason why there are quite a few untapped gems working the comedy circuit don’t do TV (but they may well tweet) and it’s also the reason that people should support live comedy, and not just in theatres because it’s someone off the telly (although those people can be excellent too)

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Good points AA. I aren't saying I am even right here, because I could be wrong but I personally feel that it will change things.

The bit about going to see a comic live is a case in point IMO, I'll use Peter Kay as an example. When he first came out with his 'seen it, booked it, f**ked off' or 'what about Bullseye eh?' 'Garlic bread??' etc stuff it was well received because it struck a chord with a lot of people. It made them laugh and realise they did the same thing or whatever: basically they hadn't thought of it themselves.Well they had, but they had forgotten and this guy prompted memories and hence laughter. But now, lots and lots of people read stuff on social media that will mean they already know the feeling and a lot of the whimsy or nostalgia is already removed from the piece. Like those tweets (or other) that go 'that awkward moment when...'. Not generally something I find funny but it illustrates the point. ie if you read something on social media 'that awkward moment your dad says Garlic bread??' seeing a comic deliver the same line later on will remove a lot, if not all of the funny element.

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My favourite live act is Dara O'Briain - a great mix of observational stuff, topical stuff and audience participation (not insulting them, involving them).

Comedy has had a massive boost in recent years - there was a good 3 part doc on BBC2 about it recently. In the 70s you toured the clubs, doing your time until you got your break on TV (or not). Largely telling non-PC jokes. I hope I'm not re-igniting the 10000 page thread on Manning (please lock it if that starts again).

Then came "alternative comedy" and the rise of the small comedy clubs that tended to appeal to a different audience - somehow this has spiralled until you get Michael McIntyre selling out arenas across the country. I think the bubble may burst - or there may be a backlash against it but perhaps not in the immediate future.

On the subject of McIntyre - there seems to be a lot of snobbery about his material. It's not edgy, granted, but if you get 10,000 people in a big room laughing and having a good time, I don't have a problem with it. He certainly did his time in the clubs before he made it big.

As for Frankie Boyle - he's a necessary evil in my opinion. Occasionally truly obnoxious, occasionally brilliant. But we need to understand where our own boundaries are, and he helps define them, as he clearly has none.

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I can't stand McIntyre, I don't find him funny in the slightest, I dunno if it is snobbery, but I do like not liking him now so I avoid at all costs (the same as union...!). It was early on though, it was i) constantly laughing at himself at ii) a truly lame cracker joke that was as predictable as night following day.

And a joke itself can be told by anyone, I don't like Joan Rivers, but found her Rolling in the Deep.. Fried Chicken joke actually quite clever, it worked, it was horrible, but as word play, it worked.

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I think the only people slagging McIntyre are probably other comics who wish they had as much success. Comedy doesn't have to be 'edgy' or challenging....it just needs to be funny, and there are many ways of doing that. When people like Billy Connolly came out, swearing and obscenity were new and two fingers up to convention. If everyone is swearing and being obscene, then it just becomes as boring as anything else. Dave Allen was pretty outrageous with his jokes about the Irish and Catholics etc, yet I don't think he ever swore once.

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I think the only people slagging McIntyre are probably other comics who wish they had as much success.

Yeah, there is a lot of that certainly a lot of comics are incredibly bitchy about him. I think it’s because what he does seems like anyone can do it and he makes it look quite easy, when in fact it’s really hard to do it and get it right, to the degree he does. I happen to like him, but I don’t have a problem with people in general not liking him – comedy is a very subjective thing and a surprisingly emotive one in this country. I do have a problem with comics endlessly having a dig though especially when sometimes they are doing a less successful version of his act (observational comedy can be horrendous if you don’t get it right in my opinion).

I do think there will be a backlash against “arena” comedians sooner rather than later – or the venues anyway. Personally I think they are pretty cold affairs compared to the theatre/club set up – especially if you are at further back essentially watching on a screen. A lot of comedians who used to do them have scaled them back or now refuse to do them. I guess though whilst people are still willing to pay silly money to go see some of the bigger guys at an arena they’ll keep going (much like big rock/pop stars)

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I saw Lee Evans at Sheffield Arena and thought it was a bit pants, the most enjoyable bit for me, sat along the side, was watching those sat in the floorspace rocking backwards and forwards when laughing. It was like seaweed in an aquarium.

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I saw Lee Evans at Sheffield Arena and thought it was a bit pants, the most enjoyable bit for me, sat along the side, was watching those sat in the floorspace rocking backwards and forwards when laughing. It was like seaweed in an aquarium.

Saw him in Newcaslte at the Metro arena and felt the same.

John Bishop at a small venue in York about 2 years ago (can't remember which venue) was brilliant.

Jimmy Carr in Halifax was OK (just before Christmas). Mainly because the whole "child abuse" thing just isn't funny to me. However he can deal with a heckler or 2 without breaking into a sweat.

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The Naked Jape by Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greeves is a pretty decent book.

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McIntyre gets it from other comedians as they say he just pinches their material.

Seeing a comic live is more than just the jokes, it's the whole experience. I like Noble and Dara O'Brien.

I didn't realise Brand was meant to be funny, he is just annoying with his helium voice.

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Saw him in Newcaslte at the Metro arena and felt the same.

John Bishop at a small venue in York about 2 years ago (can't remember which venue) was brilliant.

Jimmy Carr in Halifax was OK (just before Christmas). Mainly because the whole "child abuse" thing just isn't funny to me. However he can deal with a heckler or 2 without breaking into a sweat.

I saw both Jack Dee and Rhod Gilbert in Halifax not that long ago. Gilbert was very funny at times, but I was a little disappointed with Jack Dee compared to the last time I saw him about 10 years ago.

Subject to getting tickets tonight, I'm going to see Dave Spikey tomorrow evening. Time will tell if it will he'll be any good, but I'm optimistic it will be a good night out.

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(observational comedy can be horrendous if you don’t get it right in my opinion).

Quite. A couple of years ago, Fev went through a stage of running comedy nights in the clubhouse. Some of the comedians were quite good, some not so, but it was probably a bit of a tough audience to get any rapport with. Generally when people go to see a big name, they're there because of who it is, which means they should in theory like it. With smaller things, it's obviously far more hit and miss.

Anyway, back on topic, I remember one comedian from somewhere down south opening with a line about the state of Featherstone, and asking what people in the area did for a living. In some places, that probably works fine, but in an area decimated by the pit closures and with relatively high unemployment, as you can imagine, it went down like a lead balloon. :rolleyes: If you want to do stand up, do some homework about where your gigs are first!

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I've rather enjoyed Mark Steel's 'In Town' series, where he visits a town or city ahead of the gig and researches it so he can do a set based on where the majority of the audience are from.

It works for a radio series, but the amount of preparation it would entail for a full-length tour would make it unworkable.

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I've rather enjoyed Mark Steel's 'In Town' series, where he visits a town or city ahead of the gig and researches it so he can do a set based on where the majority of the audience are from.

It works for a radio series, but the amount of preparation it would entail for a full-length tour would make it unworkable.

True. Doesn't have to take a lot though. For example, Jack Dee started his last show with a joke about how nice Halifax was, but then about how grotty it was in some of the suburbs. The same joke will work everywhere, all you need to do is spend 10 mins per date getting the names of a couple of run down areas and job done.

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