The Art of the YouTube Promo

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

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/can-you-do-this-no-you-can-t-ronny-chieng

Nicholas J Johnson’s Today Tonight, Tomorrow The World is on at Comedy On Collins

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/today-tonight-tomorrow-the-world-nicholas-j-johnson

Ross Daniels’ Graham Clone: The Future is Incorrect – is on at Three Degrees

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/graham-clone-this-future-is-incorrect-ross-daniels

Watson’s Once Were Planets is on at Trades Hall – Old Council Chambers

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/once-were-planets-watson

Lawrence Leung’s Part Time Detective Agency is on at Swiss Club

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2013/season/shows/part-time-detective-agency-lawrence-leung-s

Ronny Chieng – The Ron Way

By Colin Flaherty

One of the cardinal rules of stand up is that you never blame the audience for not laughing but Ronny Chieng has come up with method of doing so while keeping the crowd on side. This is the magic of The Ron Effect. In his festival debut, Ronny presents a hour of polished stand up that ensures that energy levels are kept near eleven.

Ronny has devised a fascinating stage persona that is equal parts aggressive, naïve, over confident and possessing few social boundaries. All those elements are presented in a hilariously heightened manner that is a sharp contrast to the mild mannered guy he initially appears to be. Paired with a tight script, this results in a show full of laughs, twists and turns.

The material itself covers many standard observational themes, but when filtered through his character it is something special. The naivety produces some amusing literal interpretations while the aggressiveness produces some surprising left turns. He goes to some taboo areas that cause the audience to be torn between laughing at the ridiculous natural of it and stifling guilty titters after recognising that these extreme ideas have some warped merit. There is some truth embedded in the jokes (for example, his story about Rottnest Island and his real scar) but they reach some dizzying heights of absurdity through the telling.

Audience interactions take on a gladiatorial feel when tackled this way. Most questions posed to the crowd are merely there to confirm his viewpoint and the startled reactions from the punters aid this. When people eventually figure out how to respond to him and feedback starts to flow, it allows Ronny to deviate from the script and venture into unknown territory. Ronny even surprises himself at to where it leads and comes close to breaking character.

It was interesting to see that Ronny has devised some merchandise that is heavily related to material within the show. It makes for an amusing segment during the in-show spiel but ensures that the products will make absolutely no sense to anyone who haven’t seen the show. Perhaps it’s an inside joke only for those in the know, who will hopefully be in the majority by the end of the festival, as this is a brilliant show.

The Ron Way is on at the Evatt Room at Trades Hall

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/the-ron-way-ronny-chieng/