A while back comedy writer Mitch Marchand exclusively delivered his thoughts on the popular discussion between stage comedians vs online comedians. With all the current debates taking place we thought we pull his piece out of the archives to once again open up things for discussion. See what Mitch feels about ‘the current beef’ in comedy.
What’s Beef? Online vs Stand Ups.
There’s a war going on outside no man is safe from and no it’s not a coastal rap beef or who’s your favorite white boy R&B singer of the moment. This beef is regarding online comedians versus stand up comedians. Insults have been hurled heavy this past week but the truth is this has been going on for a while. Both circles have quietly and not so quietly gone about defending their turf and I can understand it. This is due to me spending time in both worlds. There is much to overcome as you fight to earn your stripes. One has to understand the difficulties and hurdles that have to be jumped to attain some modicum of success. The game ain’t easy and by “the game” I’m speaking on the stand up or online world.
I’m a stand up comedian that is really new to the game. I still have a hard time referring to myself as a stand up comic because I know and have worked with legitimate “big time” stand up comedians and I’m fully aware of how far I have to go. My entry into being a stand up comedian came due to my work as a professional comedy writer and producer for the past twelve years. I won’t bore you with my resume but I’ve worked on shows that have discovered stand up comedians and produced two successful stand up franchises that featured many great stand ups. I love stand up comedy and felt a true kinship to the art form even as a producer of shows that featured both seasoned and newer comics.
As a producer, I would meet some comics who really had a chip on their shoulder or in some cases were just plain assholes. There seemed to be a deep seeded darkness and bitterness to some comedians that I didn’t quite understand. That is until I started doing stand up myself. The art form of stand up comedy is a glorious heaven like place of freeness and creativity but the business of comedy can best be described as a hellish torture chamber of water boarding with toothpicks being stuck in your nail bed. What I never realized was what comedians had to go through and endure just to get stage time. It can be demoralizing and I’m sure tugs at the ego that we as funny folk all possess. Many comedians end up slaving for the club or the promoter just to rock the stage for five minutes. To struggle to be heard when you’re sole purpose and calling is to be heard via a funny thought I’m sure can even make the seemingly passive, Deepak Chopra, hardened and bitter.
To attain a certain status as a comedian requires years and years of hard work along with some blood, sweat, and tears. Then with the arrival of YouTube and comedy driven websites a new avenue for stand ups to be seen began. Here enters the sketch performer otherwise known as the online comedian. With a funny idea and access to a semi decent camera the internet game began to buzz and introduce us to new stars. These people didn’t have to put in the countless years of being an unpaid busboy or putting up chairs at a comedy club once the show was over to maybe get five minutes “in a few weeks.” These new creative types had a comedic vision and a YouTube page to upload. Some have become famous and many, as I’ve come to understand, feed their families off of this “YouTube shit. Admittedly, I didn’t put much stock into Youtube until I was able to see some of my friends take a chance on themselves and put their work out there to be judged by people all over the World. I began to see the value in YouTube sketches because I’m a writer who was raised on sketch comedy and writes at least a sketch a day. If I can’t get a network to hire me on their sketch show why not display my work and bring a network to me? It’s a no brainer.
I’ve been able to see the value in both worlds and how it can help you grow as a creator. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do out here? Grow and get better? Be you an online comedian or a stand up comedian, you’re putting your creative life on the line every time you step on that stage or upload that sketch. I see it as the same. You’re not a stand up comedian or an online comedian, you’re an artist. There are many comedians who want to claim “stand up or die” but I encounter many who want to know what writing books I read or screenplay classes I can suggest or if I can read the script they wrote “on the low”. We all want to expand and grow as artists on that stage, in front of that camera, or behind the computer as you bang out that next great sketch idea. If your choice is to do stand up only then don’t waste time getting upset over some online cat becoming more famous than you thanks to his video being viewed a million times. If you’re an online artist, don’t spend your time disrespecting a stand up who goes on a stage by themselves with millions of jokes in their head with no safety net, no ability to edit or cut what doesn’t work. Respect the game that should be it…
The most hilarious part is the fact that beef and comedian is in the same sentence. This ain’t the rap game! We are driven to make people laugh but by giving any life to a so called beef between online versus stand up comedians … we end up becoming the joke.