A few days back we conducted an interview with Liz Stewart, the coordinator of the first annual Hollywood Comedy Fest to find out how the festival came to be. Today, in our continuing coverage of the fest, we asked all the participating comedians the same two questions about the festival.
What does it mean to you and your carer to be involved in the Hollywood Comedy Festival’s inaugural run?
How does you see comedy growing and changing in the 21st century with the proliferation of access points via the web and new media to content?
Here are their answers…
1. Being involved in the inaugural Hollywood Comedy Festival means a lot to my career. Having recently moved to Los Angeles, I’m still working to get entrenched in the LA comedy scene. Hopefully this will help toward doing that. It’s also an exciting opportunity to perform in front of some great industry people…not to mention Jon Lovitz, who I’m a huge fan of. And any time you get to do a set and not have to fight over the noise of blenders or cappuccino machines is always a plus.
2. I see comedy continuing to dominate the internet, which it already does. I’m definitely not an expert on new media, but have recently tried to get into all that by starting a sports humor blog. It’s called Locker Room Cancer, and you can find it atlockerroomcancer.wordpress.com. As far as the internet changing comedy? I don’t know if comedy will change that much. The thing it has done is allow any idea to really come to life. Anybody with a camera and internet access can get their stuff scene, so that’s good. But it also means more clutter for professionals to have to get through. I think you’re already seeing this, but certain Web sites I think will come to the forefront as trusted comedy sources…kind of like with newspapers. You’ll know where to go to find the random stuff, and you’ll know where to go to find the stuff with some sort of substance.
1. Being involved in the Hollywood Comedy Festival’s inaugural run feels like quite an honor. Being excepted into the festival makes me feel that I’m on the right path with my career and moving in the right direction. It’s also exciting because I get the opportunity to ham it up in front of a very distinguished and respected panel.
2. The web has been a real blessing for myself and many other comics. It gives us the opportunity to reach a much wider audience at a fast pace. I’ve had people from outside of Los Angeles, and even outside of the U.S., add me on Facebook because they’ve seen my act online. The social networking sites also give us the opportunity to let people know where we’ll be performing, and to bombard them with shameless self promotion…something I’m a big fan of 😉
1. I’m very excited to participate in the first ever Hollywood Comedy Festival because I know it will be the perfect nexus of talent, industry, media, and audience (the most important, of course). It is a privilege to perform at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club especially in this kind of environment; only good things can come from this experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the judges as well as a few of my fellow participants, so I’m confident the whole event will be high quality.
2. I think comedy is changing much in the same way that our culture is changing. Most of us have ADD now and we’re always looking for quick, outrageous sound bytes to keep our interests. Youtube, Twitter, and the like make it easy for anyone to get instant feedback about jokes or sketches. The whole world is literally an open mic with countless comics thinking they might be the next stand-up equivalent to Justin Beiber. It will be a fun journey seeing how the art continues to evolve; I’m excited to be a part of it!
1. I’m extremely excited to be part of this festival. I have been doing comedy for 12 years and have hustled for every gig. I have been told by audiences for years that I am funny and I often get the “You should have been the headliner” comment so much it’s frustrating. I have done showcase after showcase with the hopes that the clubs booker will see me. But the booker never sees my set because he had to take a phone call or he had to step out for some reason. The Hollywood Comedy Festival will provide me and the other comics the chance to really be seen by people with the power to jump start a career. I am so grateful to Liz and the others responsible for putting this festival on. I’m sure the other comics share my sentiment.
2. I hope to see more live comedy. Even before I became a comic, I’ve always considered the comedy club to be an escape from a hectic work week. There’s nothing like getting together with friends to go see live comedy. Not to mention, it’s a better date than the movies. I don’t particularly like watching comedy on the web, It’s a little to passive for me. I enjoy live stand-up. I hope there’s more of an emphasis made to minimize the profanity. Not to say that It can’t be funny because it a part of life and how we sometimes express our emotions. We can do it without the F bombs. We don’t need shock value we need funny.
1. For my career HCF is awesome because it gives me a chance to showcase my stand up in front of people who i want to watch me. Rarely do I have “industry” people actually sit and watch me perform.
2. Me being 21 The only way I have experienced comedy is this “new age.” With the Internet it’s anyone’s game, its very possible to make connections through email or any social networking site. This also loses the intimacy of comedy, you can even send bookers links to your stand up which is awesome but they don’t get so see and feel you live.
1. I moved to LA in February 2009 from NYC. For the past year and a half, I had to start over in a new-for-me comedy scene in LA and build relationships with show producers and comics. I’m excited to be part of an event that’s bigger than its individual shows. I really appreciate Liz Stewart for creating an opportunity for fellow comics to gain exposure to a new audience and industry professionals we wouldn’t get otherwise while making the open mic and bar-show rounds.
2. I’m feeling that “say something smart” pressure I haven’t felt since sitting in my dorm room at 2 am banging out a paper…or trying to write a joke about Afghanistan. Well, comedy is definitely growing. There are a lot of stand-up and improv classes, improv and sketch groups, self-produced comedy shows at bars, “bringer” shows at clubs, stand-up and sketch videos online, and out-of-work actors hoping stand-up is their golden ticket to their own network show. The business of learning and starting out in comedy is flourishing. The web is a great resource for new and mid-level comics to gain exposure and for established, working comics to maintain a relationship with their fan base. We don’t need to audition or get someone else’s approval to post a video or a blog post, we just need to do it. What we don’t know yet is how to earn money directly by producing new media content. Web content is a means to an end and not necessarily created for its own sake: a Twitter feed is successful because it turns into a sitcom, a blog is successful because it turns into a book, a stand-up performance clip and sketch video are posted in hopes they lead to a booking opportunity or a development deal. Meanwhile, the sites those videos are posted on are making (or potentially making) money in ad revenue and benefiting from the traffic a comic’s content attracts. Networks and studios are making gobs of money in ad revenue and SAG and WGA are fighting for their actors and writers to get their fair share. Comedians don’t have a union to protect their financial interests. As long as comedians define web success solely on how many hits their video received or how many followers they might have, instead of how their web content can be a direct source of income, someone else will figure out how to make money off of comedians’ intellectual property. It’s already happening.
1. I am so honored to be part of the launching of this festival. The people putting it together along with the Judges on panel are so prestigious, that I know each of the comics chosen to be part of it are going to make a move forward with their careers one way or another. In this industry, it’s all about being seen by the “right” people and that’s what the Hollywood Comedy Festival is providing…a chance to be seen by people that will be able to help career-wise…or at least pass the word on to the ones that can. I’m stoked to have been chosen and Thanks again to all involved!
2. The fact that this day in age is so easy to get your name out there via web, you can already see changes happening. You can access your favorite comics or videos at the click of a mouse…or follow every step of what they do via twitter. With technology growing even more, you can see careers are started just by submitting YouTube videos and getting enough hits. So in that regard, it much easier to get your talents out there versus the old fashion TV way…having to first impress someone enough to get booked and then hoping people see you and become fans. Fans are made FIRST online and THEN booking people take notice.
Now, when it comes to comedy itself changing, comics nowadays have very quick access to much more information with the computer. And the more information a creative mind is given, the more opinions/bits are created. A lot of truly intelligent viewpoints have been created over the last 15 years since the Internet has taken over, so to speak. I think that’s directly related to the knowledge we as humans have been able to acquire through the web. Technology has allowed all of the industry to move exceptionally quick and I only see it getting faster as time goes on.
1. What can I say? First Merv Griffin, then Alan Thicke, then Arsenio. Top of the world Ma!
In all seriousness, it’s really a thrill to be in the first Hollywood Comedy Fest. With any luck this will become a big festival, and to have been a part of the first one; at it’s genesis, well that’s really cool.
“Cool,” the kids still say that word, right?
Plus Frog Island are really funny. It’s refreshing to have a festival be put on by people who know funny as opposed to industry or networks who use the festival to promote their own talent rather than finding new ones.
2. I see it as a plus and minus. The plus is that now the comedian and the audience have a much easier way to get access to the other one. Just Twitter or upload something to Facebook or Youtube and you get instant responses. It tells a comedian if a bit works right away, and the fans can see their newer jokes right away. Whereas before, they’d have to wait for a CD or TV special.
But all of that can lead to the minus, which is mediocrity can sometimes rise to the top. There are some newer comedians out there who have been thrust into success based on some rather mundane comedy that struck a chord with the public. Now I don’t knock anyone who’s reached success, hell that’s what we’re all striving for. But when someone gets it without paying dues…
1. I am really honored to be a part of the first run! Any opportunity to hone my act is always welcome but I’m especially excited about this festival because I know it will allow me to meet some industry VIPs and get their feedback. The majority of LA shows and even festivals in other cities don’t always offer that.
2. I believe the web and new media are really useful resources for comics. You don’t have to wait on anyone else to create and share your own content. Technology also makes it much easier to develop a fan base which is an important goal for young comics. I think it’s a valuable asset when you finally start headlining or even featuring. Having said all that, nothing can replace live comedy and although there are lots of really talented people creating funny online content and building tricked out websites, not every single one can destroy crowds in clubs night after night. In my opinion, that’s still a really specific skill that nothing but stage time and raw talent will perfect. And perhaps I’m stating the obvious but, I definitely think we’re going to be seeing more and more national headliners resulting from online videos gone viral as opposed to multiple late night appearances. Younger generations are definitely not relying on Thursday night must see tv for their media when iTunes and Hulu are at their fingertips 24/7. Yes, I just said, “24/7” like I’m some sort of ‘tween.
1. I’m really excited about being a part of the festival. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for exposure and networking. The quality of one’s performance is important; however, to take it to the next level, what your audience consists of is also important. Kind of like that saying, “if a tree falls in the woods, and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Does it make progress in it’s comedy career?” Most successful tree comedians will agree with me.
2. As time keeps trucking along, we continue striving for more, accomplishing more, in less time. We’re all about cutting off the fat. I notice at comedy shows that there’s less and less “story-telling”. Jokes are more direct and to the point. In addition, if your on Facebook or Twitter, you’re bombarded with one-liners (epsecially if your friends with comedians). It’s at a point now where I actually ENJOY my friend’s mom’s Facebook status update, “We had two inches of rain last night. There was a big bolt of lightening and it scared the cats. The power didn’t go out, but lights went out for a couple of seconds. I realized we don’t have anymore candles in the house, so that made me a little nervous because I don’t remember where I put the flashlights. I hope the driveway doesn’t get too muddy.” See, refreshing, isn’t it?
Katie Massa Kennedy
1. I am thrilled to be involved with the first-ever Hollywood Comedy Fest! I love working on new projects and I believe the festival will be a great opportunity to showcase my work!
2. I feel comedy has already been reinvented to a certain extent by the Internet because of its accessibility and the Web’s potential for launching new careers – with nothing more than a great idea. The Internet and online social networking have really changed the game – and it’s up to us as comedians to stay competitive in it.
1. I’m thrilled to be involved in the fest. Any time you have the opportunity to perform in a great venue with actual comedy fans in attendance, it’s a win-win. At the very least, I know that if I suck the life out of the room, I’ll most likely be met with polite silence, as opposed to a recent bar show where I was informed by one patron that my “birth was a tragic black mark in the annals of American history.” So, I’m truly looking forward to this. Not only does it provide some good exposure to club/festival bookers, managers, agents, etc., but I also get to share the stage with some gifted comics.
2. I see it as a double-edged sword. With ever-increasing avenues of distribution, it’s certainly much easier to market yourself and gain exposure for your work. But since these channels are accessible to anyone, as the talent pool deepens, so does the cesspool. So the problem becomes: How do you get your work to the forefront of a saturated market? In many respects, it’s easier to “get seen” but it’s also easy to get lost in the shuffle. Another complaint I hear from a lot of comics is that more and more decision makers rely on technology to scout talent. And we all know there’s something special about live performance that doesn’t translate to tape. So we’re all vying for the attention of an ever-decreasing cadre of decision makers who still hit the live shows. One of my biggest concerns with this proliferation of access points is that I think it’s shortened our attention spans, especially among the younger generation who has grown up with instant access to quick-hitting bits. My material is more long-winded…a lot of storytelling…so I find that many of the younger folks simply can’t or are unwilling to hang in there with me. Fortunately, I’m adored by 60-year-old women.
1. I am honored to have been chosen – It is a great opportunity to be seen by some of the industry people and show them what I can do after having no other job than comedy for over 10 years–I am still fairly new to Hollywood and in order to take my career to the next level I have to be seen by people who can make that happen – I think all the hard work Liz Stewart and co. is putting into this is awesome and I look forward to doing my part in order to make the inaugural as successful as possible…
2. I’m honestly not the person to ask about the web or anything associated with it – I’m only 30 but sort of an old soul – It’d be cool if the internet were never invented – though email is nice – I think stand-up comedy would be better off it people had to go to live shows instead of just clicking a mouse – there is no substitute for a live performance – but that is how it is so I deal with it – obviously there are advantages but I think it takes something away from the craft when just about anyone can make a Youtube video and deem themselves a “stand-up comic” which is sort of an insult to all the men and women who have worked there asses off in all sorts of venues to actually become one of the hardest things in the world to become – which is a true professional comedian who can deliver no matter the environment. Ah well what are you gonna do? I doubt this came close to an answer that is actually printable and makes me sound like I’m 80 but that is how I feel.
1. I’m very excited to have been selected for the first year of the Hollywood Comedy Festival. It’s always rewarding to know that somebody else thinks that you’re on the right track. Hopefully this will be a good opportunity for my comedy to be seen by a few more people that it would have otherwise. If I can come out of this deal with a couple extra Twitter followers, I’ll be a happy camper.
2. This is a complicated question, but the long and the short of it is that the internet has become an amazing tool for comedians looking to get material (whether that’s stand up clips or video sketches or jokes on Facebook and Twitter) out to a wider audience. Obviously, it’s an invaluable tool for creating awareness and growing a fan base.
1. Being included in the festival is a huge honor and opportunity for me, and, I imagine, for the rest of the comics competing. I’ve been doing comedy for three years, and to go from local open mics to performing in front of some 350 people, the largest crowd I’ve ever performed for, is an exciting transition, to say the least. Even if I don’t win, the amount of exposure a competition like this could do wonders for a comedian’s career.
2. The recent advent of the internet and social networking has breathed new life into the comedy scene. With Youtube and Facebook, comedians don’t have to wait to get on TV to break out, and they now have so many more options for doing so. Similarly, I think that TV has acknowledged the change that the internet has brought to comedy, and made efforts to accommodate that audience. I think comedy is in a really good place right now, and it can only grow from here.