Stand Up Comedians On YouTube

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As the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions made it more and more difficult for stand-up comedians to perform in clubs like they were used to, they had to devise different ways to gather audiences and practice their craft. Some, like Dave Chappelle, were able to convince people to get together in parking lots, and he performed to them as they sat within the safety of their cars. Other, less successful comedians had to improvise by performing on YouTube.


How Stand Up On YouTube Can Work

To emulate some of the energy of an actual, in-person show, some comedians resorted to organizing a live stream event. Because everything is broadcast live, it does not feel produced or edited. Lesser-known comedians may try to buy YouTube views for their live streams in an attempt to increase traffic toward their comedy live stream. Nonetheless, this started as a system to replicate the energy and atmosphere of a comedy club, but there are significant differences – both for the comedian and for the performer.


The Problem With Substituting YouTube For A Stage

Even though the comedian would be performing live, there are significant changes they would need to handle. Firstly, there is what could only be considered negligible feedback. When a comedian performs on stage, they can judge the room, and as they build-up, to the punch line, they can feel the reactions from the crowd and understand whether the joke is good or not. There is a reason that stand-up specials take time to come out – comedians need to practice their jokes on an audience in order to curate them and hone their skills. As comedian Joe Rogan puts it – there’s no other craft like it, because you can’t just practice at home. Regardless of feedback, a comedian can get through YouTube’s comment second, the reaction is delayed and can be considered a conscious reaction to a joke. The audience has time to decide which jokes to comment on and how they want to react to them on a public platform like YouTube. In a comedy club – people may laugh out loud at a joke before realizing it, and the comedian will notice.

From the audience’s perspective, two things change the comedian and the atmosphere. Because the comedian is not receiving any feedback from a crowd, they are unlikely to perform as well as they would have on stage – unless they’re particularly skilled at this (like Bill Burr on his podcast) which is rare. As for the atmosphere, there is something about being in a room that is entirely focused on the performer – everything gets amplified. Even when watching stand-up specials at home, audiences tend to laugh louder when in the company of other people enjoying the show with them.  

While YouTube is certainly a viable option to help a comedian gain popularity, it cannot be considered an equal replacement for comedy clubs and actually performing in front of a live audience. In our humble opinion, it’s an effective marketing strategy for budding comics, but not actual stand-up comedy.

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