The Marginalizing of Stand Up Comedy Festival

I woke up this morning and opened up my copy of the New York Times.  There were stories about the Boston bombing, an editorial about the dysfunction of my former employer, the Bronx District Attorney’s office, but beyond terrorism and delays in justice there was a story on the cover of the business section of the paper that really caused me to gag.  The article was about Comedy Central’s new comedy festival taking place next week.  The article was reporting on #ComedyFest – a comedy festival that comedy central is “having” next week.  As the article highlights “there will be no smokey comedy clubs… no two drink minimums” because the whole “festival” will take place on Twitter and Vine.  Because what comedy needs is even more conditioning to shorten attention spans.

Comedy Central is really the most significant platform for stand up comedy by a significant margin, but in a strategy that seems to be part-over saturation – in a decade they managed to marginalize the impact of their signature stand up series “Comedy Central Presents,” and part pandering – catering to “millennials,” – a short-attention span generation with record highs in narcissism and record lows in employment a/k/a spending power, they are marginalizing stand up at a rate that would make MTV’s usage of music jealous.

I am sure I am just being a curmudgeon and a hater, but when the main station for comedy and stand up is promoting and pushing for people to enjoy tweets and 6 second videos, what future does stand up comedy really have?  Maybe in a few years live stand up comedy will be called “Long Form Stand Up” or “he practices that old school form of stand up – no memes, no tweets, just 30-45 minutes talking into a microphone!”  Perhaps stand up’s best days are already behind it, but it should still look back, not to reminisce, but to make sure Comedy Central is not coming to strangle it to death.  #LookOut

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