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|Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:25 am Post subject: What next for TV stand-up?
|Broadcasters seek new formats
|Broadcast Comedy Forum: Broadcasters are already looking beyond the straightforward stand-up show, following the success of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.
Although that programme, along with Live At The Apollo, defied traditional thinking that stand-up never worked on TV, commissioners are now seeking new ways to use comedians – without them doing their routines in front of a live audience.
‘The market is flooded with stand-up ideas,’ said Steve North of digitial channel Dave. ‘What's the next stage for that huge pool of stand-ups? What format will give them new opportunities.’
But Jon Thoday, of agents Avalon, suggested that producers weren’t always particularly innovative when it came to using stand-ups on screen. ‘Every day I get about four proposals for a show about going on a personal journey with a comedian,’ he said.
He also said broadcasters and producers often wanted to parachute rising young comics into format shows that would be unsuitable for them, without thinking of the comedian’s artistic motivations.
His comments were prompted by Andrew McKenzie, creative director of independent production house TwoFour, who said he was impressed by Jonny Sweet and Nick Mohammed when he saw them in Edinburgh, but was knocked back when he tried to sign them up for an E4 show that needed a young comic to front it.
‘These are writer-performers who want to make people laugh,’ Thoday said. ‘What if they, as a new artist, get associated with a show that fails? That might mean throwing away the one chance of doing what he really wants to do on TV.’
Kenton Allen, chief executive of Big Talk Productions agreed, saying many stand-ups wouldn't want to ‘give away’ the comic skills they spend their career nurturing for an E4 show created by someone else.
Thoday said successful live comedians should be able to forge a TV career, given the right programme and investment in their talent. ‘If a comedian can make an audience laugh on stage, then there will be a way of making them laugh on screen,’ he said. ‘But it is tricky.’
Meanwhile Allen warned comedy writers about giving too much material away for free online. ‘Great writers are giving away great jokes every day on Twitter,’ he said. Although he acknowledged it was a way of building a profile, he added: ‘It’s too rare a gift to give away.’
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