(Image via Andrew Tepper/HBO)
Waaaay back when in the month of November, 2011, comedian Louis C.K. victimized the micro-blogging platform twitter during a segment on Conan. Armed with his Hater-ade, C.K. poured his heart out about why he found the platform annoying. Before I continue, this isn’t another blog coming to the rescue of twitter (many comedians LOVE twitter). Instead, it’s more about the quick wit and observation of C.K. and his brave, comedic brethren. Dramatic (read: serious) actors have always been lauded for their ability to tap into their empathy and embody a character’s persona. Comedians do that all the time, without the benefit of additional takes.
Like social media professionals, comedians work with a live audience and need to be able to feel the crowd for what’s working and what need to be scrapped. Steve Martin started his stand-up career as an 18 year old kid in San Francisco, playing to coffee shops that hosted open mic nights. He began to refine his craft in a ludicrous way, eventually becoming a writer for the Smothers Brothers show before hitting big on his own. Martin focused on the material that wasn’t traditionally funny, but his delivery made it funny. Taking mundane objects and adding in a mix of deadpan and absurdest humor, Martin became the highest grossing comic to ever tour.
They’re not just telling one-liners; the majority of the time they’re telling awesome stories. Aziz Ansari, star of Parks & Rec, has been touring for the last 4 years between seasons of his show. He has told hilarious stories of his cousin, hanging with Kanye West, & sheets. As random incidents they’re just stories – but in the hands of a killer storyteller, they’re golden hysterics.
Dave Chappelle was the king of sketch comedy in the mid-2000’s. His stand up specials feature some of greatest long form stories that have ever graced the stage. His ability to hold an audience’s attention stems from the previous laughs he’s delivered. There is trust that his tales will end in raucous laughter.
Our job as storytellers is to immerse ourselves into a character, setting, mindset, or brand. The audience is our most important gauge of success (without forgetting about the fiscals)- pay attention and be as responsive as they are to your content.
Outside of the bottomline, how do you measure campaign success? Which comedian best connects to his audience?