Comedy as an Ever-Changing Business: How Will it Evolve?
As the comedy business shifted to online standup specials and comic relief through virtual platforms, it begs the question of whether or not comedy will change in the future. The concept of entertaining in this age has changed immensely. It seems more important now than ever for comedians to explore options besides solely going on the road and accepting gigs.
Stand-up comics have always had something to fall back on. The option to go on the road provided comfort as they attempted to navigate the unknown. With COVID-19, all tours and events have been shut down until further notice, leading comedians to flock to other platforms.
Noel Miller, a content creator and host of, “Tiny Meat Gang” with Cody Ko, voiced his opinion in a recent podcast episode.
“I was speculating if standup specials in the way we think of it will change a lot or even be around. People are so used to having interaction with their content. Even if it’s recorded, a person usually talks directly to you or acknowledges a comment you made.”
Miller goes as far as to even bring up the idea of popular comedians going live on Netflix for standup specials in the future.
Impersonal performances are becoming more commonplace and the ways of old school comedy have shifted. Comedians who were once focused on creating standup material have moved to podcasting platforms, TikTok, and cultivating a following on Instagram. Many have signed up for shows with Quibi, a new mobile video platform, while others have stuck to their roots by performing comedy sets on Zoom.
With influencers and stand up comedians previously seen as two separate entities, some are viewing the line as blurred in more ways than one. Similar to YouTubers with multiple revenue streams, comedians are writing books, monetizing their blogs, and taking to YouTube to post skits and daily vlogs.
Comedian Julie Nolke recently put out a YouTube skit explaining the pandemic to her past self. The video has surpassed 8 million views and touches on the current climate in a joking manner. She continues to post videos regularly and has now amassed over 360,000 subscribers.
Jim Gaffigan has also resurfaced his YouTube channel by providing quarantine content of his family through daily vlogs and comedic cooking videos.
The ways comedians are being seen is evolving and with the pandemic, the future of comedy is getting rewritten faster than ever with new platforms and streaming services.
Jerry Seinfeld has been rumored to cancel “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, his 11-season Netflix show that featured big celebrities and social media influencers driving around and chatting.
Despite the bad news and restlessness to stay at home, many comedians have viewed this time as pivotal in their creative journeys. As comedians write new material and reflect on their old sets, some share their anxieties when it comes to preparing to showcase their talents beyond their living rooms. It will be interesting to see where things go and as things start to slowly open up, how dated jokes can get.
There is a desire for personal connection as many seek to hear opinions live on Instagram or get an escape through podcasts without leaving the house. Live comedy may ultimately return back to its original state, but it’s a matter of making do in the meantime.