Clicks Vs Tix

April 27, 2018

What comes first? The YouTuber, or the sold out comedy fest show? The funny person on Twitter with a million followers, or the award-winning comedian? The chicken or the egg? (Sorry, not sorry.)

I ducked out to The Wheeler Centre on the weekend for their Clicks vs Tix session, held in partnership with Melbourne International Comedy Fest. The hour-long talk was hosted by Jodi Crocker, with comedians Geraldine Hickey, Phil Wang, Sorabh Pant and Zach Ruane fielding questions about the digital space fits in with being successful in the comedy world.

The conversation went in a million (interesting) directions, but here were my key takeaways around content and advertising.

Should wannabe comedians try to strike gold online first, then bring their shows to the real world? Or start on the comedy circuit and the online likes will follow?

All four speakers kinda said yes and no to this one. PW’s experience was that great online audiences can lead to ticket sales, but rarely the other way around. Comedy goers don’t enjoy stand up at a local club then immediately go home and become a rabid digital fan. (I feel like this is actually the opposite to music. There are so many bands that are completely meh recorded, but have an online following because their live show is on fire.)

ZR also pointed out that Aunty Donna’s YouTube audience needed some, erm, training to get use to the idea of live shows. YouTube audiences love meeting their creators, but it took a few years for the Aunty Donna fan base to fully understand that their live shows are refreshed and rewritten each year, and that there is new content for hardcore fans to enjoy each time.

When asked if they’d rather win a Barry (MICF’s best show award) or have a million new subscribers:

PW had an interesting view on this. Awards have a shelf life based on how regularly they occur. If a Barry gets awarded annually, it’ll only boost the profile of the winner for a year. His advice? Cash in on it, ride the wave, get momentum… and then move on.

GH and ZR both also noted that a million views are not necessarily good views. Read: trolls.

How do audiences feel about comedians getting paid by brands?

On the topic of brand sponsorships, SP commented that audiences are now far more forgiving. It’s no longer about selling out. Fans recognise that brand endorsements = being able to consume content for free. (SP also commented that music is on the decline in India, but comedy is on the rise so brands are choosing to spend their influencer dollars with comedians instead.)

Going one step further, PW also mentioned that this attitude extends further to full-blown ads as well. Creators are getting paid to appear in ads for brands to cash in on the person’s likeability. The comedian (or musician, model, Instagrammer, athlete) stars in an ad to just be themselves, and the actual brand/product almost becomes a secondary element to the ad, purely to align themselves with the talent. (I’d say this has been the case for years though… a la Billy Connelly selling ING.)

And what about Facebook?

ZR had interesting things to say about Facebook in light of the recent data exposé. While it’s refreshing to shift the power away from that one person who has sway at a comedy festival, performers need to remember that social media doesn’t necessarily give you all the power. There’s still a gatekeeper; he’s just an internet billionaire in Silicon Valley now. You still need to remember that your online community is in the hands of someone else. (He also noted that their Facebook reach organically is declining like crazy.)

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Super interesting talk, so here’s a super bad picture of the panel. Enjoy.


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