Friday, June 12, 2009

Twitter Comedy - the review

Written for MusicOMH.com

While Facebook is great for sharing photos, Myspace now generally based around promoting music and YouTube the go-to website for videos, Twitter is all about words.

It should perhaps come as no surprise, then, that it has become the social network of choice for comedians, and the fact that users have just 140 characters to play with appears more an attraction than a restriction – comics, it seems, are only too happy to prove that brevity is the soul of wit.

On Monday 8 June, as a sort of celebration of this new outlet for their talents, nine of the UK’s most prolific comic Twitterers undertook a little experiment: a comedy gig held on Twitter, which was hosted by Tiernan Douieb and headlined by Mark Watson.

And while it was a certainly chaotic and, at three hours, probably too long, (though when you’re watching the gig in your pyjamas, it matters rather less than usual) I think that Twitter’s inaugural comedy night can be considered a huge success.

The main positive was the line-up. The easy option would have been to stick with comics who specialise in one-liners, a style of comedy tailor made for Twitter, but thankfully the organisers were a lot more adventurous. So, along with acts who could shoot off puns at ten or more a minute (the brilliant Gary Delaney tweeted too often in an hour and had to start up an emergency account to continue his set), we also treated to acts that would, on the face of it, seem completely incongruous: the sketch troupe Pappy’s Fun Club and musical comedian Mitch Benn.

Perhaps the fact that they were forced to be more inventive was a blessing, however, as these two acts were definite highlights. Pappy’s Fun Club get the award for most preparation thanks to their inclusion of photos and additional accounts, but the night, I think, belonged to Mitch Benn.

Benn is an enthusiastic Twitter champion, and so he was even prepared to break his own rule of never setting new lyrics to an existing tune for the good of the cause. We had to guess the song, but if I copy and paste the wonderful lines “I see a little grainy twitpic of a man/SCARAMOUCHE SCARAMOUCHE WILL YOU START A NEW HASHTAG” you will quickly get the idea. And it was a delight. Funny, inventive, and an in-joke aimed at just the right audience, Benn deservedly got many a *cheer* and *standing ovation* from those following the gig.

In the end, the only problems were logistical rather than inherent. Having all the acts tweet from one account rather than their own would make following the gig much simpler, and trying to tell the rebellious Twitter masses not to use the hashtag reserved for the comedians was simply never going to work. But these are issues that can be easily sorted out, and when they are, there will be no reason why Twitter Comedy should not become a regular, and very successful, event.

The line up in full:
Mark Watson - @watsoncomedian
Pappy's Fun Club - @PappysFunClub
Mitch Benn - @MitchBenn
Matt Kirshen - @mattkirshen
Rob Heeney - @robheeney
Carl Donnelly - @carldonnelly
Terry Saunders - @terrysaunders
Gary Delaney - @garydelaney
Host: Tiernan Douieb - @TiernanDouieb

2 comments:

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Dean said...

It was interesting to watch but honestly I didn't find it that enjoyable. It just all moved too slowly - because no-one can type as fast as someone can read. And since you don't even need pauses for laughter online I just felt it dragged.

A fascinating experiment but ultimately unfulfilling IMHO.

(Oh and everyone talks about how Mitch Benn brilliantly managed to adapt musical comedy to the format, I was more impressed by how he managed to adapt flogging CDs after the gig to the format!)