Ikon London Magazine sat down with Pete from the Comedy Crowd to talk about the idea of crowdsourcing of comedy and the evolution of the craft.
In a recent panel discussion hosted by the New Culture Forum, British Comedian Simon Evans has rightly pointed out that the memes we are sharing online now have more with than the mainstream comedy. And if you are to go down the pats of original and indie comedy, the most original and indie way to create comedy is by crowdsourcing it. This train of thought has led entrepreneurial comedy writers Pete Wright and John Jason to create the Comedy Crowd.
Comedy Crowd: A Community Where Everyone Can Create Comedy
Appearing on a small phone monitor, Pete introduces Comedy Crowd (CC) that he started with John 4 years ago. “We wrote a comedy sitcom script and wanted to get it produced. We did the normal thing – fired to producers; and we got nowhere. As most people do in this situation.”
Not remotely discouraged by the situation, the duo decided to produce it themselves. “We asked around, looked for people who would help us to produce sitcom pilot in Liverpool. And we found how difficult it was because there was no community to go to.”
Pete continues with his musing: “Comedy needs people from different backgrounds from different communities and yet it’s very difficult for those people to make first steps in the industry. It’s seen like a closed shop. Our vision was to create community whereby anyone can create comedy. Whereby people of different skills and backgrounds can create together.”
The idea proved to be viable to say the least. Since its creation four years ago, the Comedy Crowd subscription base has risen to nearly ten thousands of comedy creators from around the world. As par to the comedy crowd community, creators can attend events, take part in competitions and hone their skill all the while growing own network of collaborators.
Pete explains, “On our Comedy Crowd TV website, people can create profiles, find other creatives who want to work with on their ideas.”
Crowdsourcing of Comedy for Commercial Projects
Having an extensive database of eager creatives at their fingertips, the Comedy Crowd team decided to use this asset to develop and expand the company. In 2020, the Comedy Crowd curated five comedy sketches produced by their community for the mobile network giant O2. “Our idea of crowdsourcing comedy works for our community. And it’s a fantastic asset for anybody looking for comedy content.”
Indeed, according to Pete, they have managed to create six comedy sketches for O2 based on their brief in mere six weeks over Christmas. “Once we have the brief, we can then go to our community and can quickly get together the best ideas, decide which will be more suited for the project. Because everyone is motivated, we can get those turned around very quickly. Within six weeks over Christmas created six sketches. Out of those, five were submitted to O2.”
Curating Comedy Content
When it comes to curating the comedy, it must be a hard call. The comedy, by anyone’s admission, is very subjective. For example, we are unsure as to why Nish Kumar’s dreadful comedy show Mash Report lasted as long as it has, but there must have been some viewership to justify four seasons.
Pete explains their vision for curated comedy: “We are very conscious that part of the problem in traditional system of comedy is that there are a few gatekeepers-commissioners that make this decision. We’ve always encouraged people to create short teasers and put them online, prove the audience that way. For many of our competitions, we encourage people to demonstrate their audience. It doesn’t have to be a big audience – it could be a very niche audience. But that doesn’t necessarily matter as it depends on what you want to make and who do you want to make it for.
“Not a lot has changed in the way that the comedy is produced traditionally. Certainly when we started, comedy was already getting less and less time. The original comedy certainly was; there more repeats. But at the same time, we saw this enormous boom on other platforms. And that’s only been heightened during these times. People have taken to likes of TikTok, Twitch, Instagram. It makes it easier to create than ever before. What would be nice is for some of those creators who have innovative content to get more mainstream coverage.
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