The Wrong Show is an independent and alternative comedy night in Leeds. This is our blog. Here you will find comedy reviews, features, and interviews. We were formally known as HOWL. First Wednesday of the Month, The Fenton, Leeds.
By Thom Milson
I just want to preface this with ‘I took this from my blog’. I know you shouldn’t really do that, but I did, okay. Also, if anyone from r/standupshots is reading this, please stick with it to the end. I say some really nice things at the end.
I don’t know how much attention comedy fans pay to Reddit, but they recently started a new sub-reddit (there are no easy ways to explain this if you don’t know Reddit) called r/standupshots. The idea is that a comedian (or fan of comedy) can post one of their favourite jokes typed over a picture of the comic. Pretty much like this:
As we all know, that’s Louis C.K. I’ll say more on this soon.
In priciple, the idea of r/standupshots is a good one: comics of any level can post their jokes and gain exposure (as well as followers on Twitter and all that jazz) and it costs them nothing. All they need is a good joke. In a world where people are shitty and won’t spend 5 minutes watching a video another human being spent months working on (unless it involves broken bones, tits, or cats) an image, that can be taken in in under 30 seconds, seems like it might be the answer. So far it seems to be working.
I do like the approach that it’s taking towards comedy: it’s essentially twitter, but with more pictures (their words not mine) and it’s a lot less of a comedians’ circle jerk than I first anticipated. Reddit is also huge in terms of influence on the internet, and to not use it to actually promote comedy, would be idiotic. Especially since Tumblr - the other site that tells people what to like - is shit for comedy.
This isn’t to say it’s without it’s problems though. There are two that really stand out for me: delivery, and the sound of someone’s voice. I posted that image of Louis C.K for a reason, because if you go back and read it again, you’ll do so in C.K’s voice, with C.K’s cadence. You’ll be reading that bit, in the exact way he performed it in his special. If you write and perform comedy, you’ll know that the way you deliver a joke can really make a difference to the way it’s received. Timing is key, as is the tone of a word, or the stress on certain syllables. A pause of two seconds might see a bit get little giggles, while three seconds might see it kill with big belly-laughs. You don’t get that in the written joke form. In fact, it’s a very different skill set altogether. What I’m trying to say is: if no one knows who you are, and hasn’t heard you perform the joke, it might suffer, or at least not get quite what it deserves, when it’s posted over a picture of your big dumb face.
That doesn’t mean that your joke which got down voted forty-three times, definitely suffered because they didn’t get to hear you do it. If that many people hate your joke, it’s probably because your joke is shit. A funny joke is still funny without the delivery, it just might not seem as funny. What I have found whilst reading some of the jokes on there, is that if I don’t know the comic’s voice, or their style of delivery, I try to work out how they likely deliver it. I can do this because I’ve seen a ton of comics perform, all of whom have varying styles. Obviously, this isn’t something you can say about average “doesn’t do stand-up” Joe.
The easiest way to get around this, is to post jokes that have a minimum reliance on delivery, and stand-up because of the writing. It’s therefore not a medium to be used by everyone.
It’s starting to sound like I don’t like r/standupshots, but that’s definitely not the case: I’m a huge fan of the idea that a comedian doesn’t have to wait to be seen by the right people, and r/standupshots is doing just that. I guess my real problem is actually the fact that people are shitty and don’t watch videos.
Anyway, I have really come around to the idea of r/standupshots, and I really hope it works out (and that one day I see my stupid face as a meme on Tumblr). It’s an invaluable tool for some (especially for one-liner type comics) that will help gauge mass appeal of jokes. I mean, I don’t think it’s for everyone, but at the end of the day it’s up to the comic. If you decide to post something on there I wish you the best of luck. Well done to the guys that thought it up. Stand-up is changing, and I’m not going to fight the wave.