by Colin Flaherty
Comedians have been using YouTube as a promotional tool for their Festival shows for several years now. One of the most notable was by Australian expatriate Yanni for his 2012 Edinburgh show “Numb and Number” (It’s still online on his YouTube Channel ). In the lead up to this years’ Melbourne Comedy Festival, it seems as though every comedian and their tech savvy dog has filmed a video to lure punters to their show.
Some videos simply have the performer addressing the camera to tell you what to expect from their show, usually with a wacky angle to prevent it from becoming too dry. Others present an excerpt from the show to literally give the potential audiences a taste of the actual performance.
The road of YouTube trailers is rife with dangerous pitfalls. A rough, quick shoot with a handycam may paint the whole production as amateurish (unless this is exactly what you are aiming for!). A lengthy running time may be too much for the short attention spans of some folk unless it has a rewarding punchline.
Amongst the deluge of promotional material are some wonderful examples of promo videos that rise above the mere show reel and really make a lasting impression…
For his show Can you do this? No you can’t, Ronny Chieng runs literally with the title and presents a montage of mundane tasks to prove that he can do anything better than a mere mortal. It gives you a clear idea of what to expect from Ronny and his hyper confident stage persona.
Utilising various colourful online characters for a nominal fee, Nicholas J Johnson has created a series of videos (the above puppet example is my personal favourite) to sell his show Today Tonight, Tomorrow The World. It has a very shyster air that is appropriate for this show about the dirty tabloid world of “Current Affairs” television and his work in general as swindler extraordinaire.
Ross Daniels has gone the music video route (there is also a full length version of this song here) to promote his character piece about 80s Synth Pop musician Graham Clone for the show The Future is Incorrect. It is so well done that it could easily pass as an actual music video of the period in spite of the numerous silly touches.
For their new show Once Were Planets, Watson employ spiffy animation. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy styled infographics format fits in perfectly with the subject matter and includes many of the pop cultural references that are littered throughout a Watson show.
Lawrence Leung takes a leaf out of Yanni’s book by editing some existing television footage and inserting himself into the action. Rather than re-edit all the dialogue to suit his plot, he cleverly works around the existing lines of Benedict Cumberbatch to create a wonderful humourous exchange. A clever and entertaining invite to his Part Time Detective Agency.
Ronny Chieng’s Can you do this? No you can’t is on at Melbourne Town Hall – Council Chambers
Nicholas J Johnson’s Today Tonight, Tomorrow The World is on at Comedy On Collins
Ross Daniels’ Graham Clone: The Future is Incorrect – is on at Three Degrees
Watson’s Once Were Planets is on at Trades Hall – Old Council Chambers
Lawrence Leung’s Part Time Detective Agency is on at Swiss Club