In our ‘This is My YouTube’ series, we explore how users — with different backgrounds, jobs and interests — are connecting, engaging and using content on YouTube. In this episode, Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams tells us how he’s laughing out loud with YouTube.
Reflecting on this episode, Joe Wade, Managing Director of creative agency Don’t Panic, explores why YouTube is his comedy club of choice.
All our favourite comedy moments are just a click away on YouTube. However, YouTube is far from just an archive of old shows and funny animal videos; it’s shaping the way we consume comedy today.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer started their Broad City web-series on YouTube back in 2010, detailing the many ups and downs of two young women living in New York. Spotted by Parks and Recreation’s powerhouse, Amy Poehler, who took them under her wing and they soon had a very popular TV show on their hands. YouTuber Miranda Sings built over 10M subscribers on the strength of her original work on YouTube, before grabbing herself a Netflix series. Similarly, the popular sitcom, Workaholics, started off life as a YouTube series called Mail Order Comedy.
YouTube is redefining the genre
Comedy on YouTube is growing the genre beyond just stand-up and sketch, to include things like KSI's gaming videos and the zany character comedy of Miranda Sings and Liza Koshy. Comedy formats native to YouTube have began to seep into television as creators and execs realise this is what young audiences are craving.
BBC Three's famous move to online only in 2016 and the subsequent growth of their YouTube channel (over 1M subscribers) powered by great youth-focused comedy, is testament to this change.
You can see the same thing happening with the US late night talk shows, which have become a global phenomenon with YouTube’s international reach. James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" is pretty much the perfect equation for YouTube success and has taken on a life of its own. Conan O’Brien also creates segments on his show that mimic YouTube’s native formats, such as “Clueless Gamer”, in which he plays new video games ineptly and commentates as he goes.
Made-for-YouTube comedy content is seeing huge success
The broadcast networks themselves are now getting in on the act too, with the recent creation of the Comedy Central Originals YouTube channel, featuring up-and-coming young YouTube comedians like Gus Johnson. They’ve moved away from just posting old clips from their shows, realising there was a large enough audience on YouTube craving made-for-online sketch content. Jen Danielson, Comedy Central’s Senior VP of Digital has discussed the increasing importance of networks becoming “responsive to digital”.
“It’s two or three people touching the content instead of massive teams,” Danielson said. “It’s also made for smaller screens, so it’s a different level of investment.” Indeed, producing content for platforms like YouTube is not only cheaper, it’s also much quicker and carries the responsive, organic feel that online audiences recognise as authentic.
Around the world, comedy has millions of viewers all laughing out loud at new formats, ideas and talent — all to be found on YouTube. The comedy stars of tomorrow have an entire digital bank of inspiration at their fingertips, be it past or present, and YouTube will be the place they find their first fans and their comedic voice.
So, if you’re after the future of funny, YouTube’s the best comedy club in town.
Discover more from our ‘This is My YouTube’ series here.
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