Rick’s told you about Community before, one of the best TV shows of all time. I’ll take this opportunity to talk about a different medium altogether - YouTube.
And in the process, get you hooked on to my favourite comedy channel ever, how they work, and what we can learn from them.
This post is sponsored by the Heritage Quiz Festival, coming up on the 31st of March and lasting for three days, and including a pop culture round focused on YouTube. Do come on over!
Looking at their videos, let’s come to the central question posed by the title again - how to make comedy videos? Let’s look at five pointers:-
1. Take a central concept - and keep changing it up
Every comedy sketch, however, be it a single scene, a short video, or a whole film, needs to evolve and change continuously. The audience won’t be laughing at the same joke for five minutes, and you can’t stretch a concept past its potential - so it’s better to change it all up to keep it fresh. Not that you should turn a story about three college slackers into a daring heist on the moon’s stash of space-cocaine, of course.
(Actually, that would be pretty rad.)
2. Don’t give a joke even a millisecond more time than necessary
There are moments where the gag might lie in the joke stretched too far it foes from funny to unfunny to so-audacious-it’s-funny-again, like this, but it’s much, much easier to use snappy editing to make sure the audience is consistently entertained and looking forward to the next joke. This ties in with the earlier point as well, with minimum delay between changing the whole setting up.
Then, in a flash, the entire gag of the video changes, with the subconscious shown to be sentient and alcoholic, pulling a mental gun on him to force him to carry the beer (complete with sounds of the gun cocking inside his head).
And in thirty seconds, the gag is changed again, with the police officer’s mind and the subconscious engaging in a mental fistfight.
The video only lasts for a little more than three minutes, but it uses the time economically, sometimes even cutting away from a line to make it funnier. As a result, you're always throwing material at the audience, making sure they keep finding something to laugh at.
3. Don’t be afraid to get risky and artful
4. Don’t be afraid to get weird
5. Choose only the best material
Comedy’s a difficult and tricky genre to pull off, and with the dreck that populates half of YouTube (looking at you, Smosh) it’s easy to give up even trying to look. But once in a while, you get something great, insane, and inspiring.
And then you take that inspiration to make your own dreck and upload it.
But, well, isn’t starting something the first real step to learning about it?