Sean Coles podcast series “What the f*** happened to comedy?” is a five part series that takes a look at five different comedians with a Youtube presence. Due to time and equipment restraints a podcast was chosen over something more visual like a video or presentation, considering some of the comedians he looks at are very physical in their performance, the lack of visuals in the podcast becomes a problem. The podcasts work well as a curation of a handful of comedians but has the qualities of a review which it does not handle well. Each podcast is unscripted and as a result, despite feeling more organic, Sean gets opinionated, harming the review aspect of the podcast. Sean focuses on elements of each comedians practice such as, their trajectory, financial possibilities, the quality of the comedy and their popularity. While these elements do end themselves to defining a comedian, they are also contextual. Most of these elements are heavily influenced by factors outside of comedy. Sean tackles and briefly explores new ideas and argues a point in most of his podcasts, bringing something new to the discussion. Unfortunately the points don’t seem to be supported by much research.
The format and platform chosen for this project is a series of audio podcasts uploaded to Soundcloud. It may not be essential to show the comedians work to the audience so that they may relate, Sean did link to some of their work in the description of each upload but he also chose to show a clip of each comedian despite lacking the visuals to make sense of some of the clips. Some of the comedians looked at may be fine audio-only but comedians such as Shooter Williams and Pewdiepie and especially How to Basic, rely heavily on slapstick visuals or visual characters. How to Basic is almost entirely visual besides grunts and slapping noises. As previously mentioned this isn’t entirely essential, just an oversight that could have been easily avoided. A blog would have worked well, even if the podcast is hosted on soundcloud and posted as part of a blog, Sean could have embedded videos into the post quite easily and use several videos as a scope of a comedians work.
“What the f*** happened to comedy?” looks at comedy in various styles, it isn’t made clear if Sean intended to focus on such a narrow focus of comedians but he did well in identifying differing elements within the five comedians chosen to look at. I would’ve liked to have seen a comedy musical group or a female comedian for some variety. While there is a lack of real variety in comedians, the similarity of the comedians does allow Sean to focus on finer differences. A single podcast each for a musical group or female comedian (or an act with both combined) would have been good to look at the legitimacy of musical comedy or to look at the perceived sexism surrounding female comedians.
Each podcast has a central theme and a point to be argued. This gives each installment meaningful content and separates the installments by a purpose. On the other hand, some of the points made are very opinionated and loosely supported by basic references. For example, the podcast on How to Basic loses credibility when it’s argued that How to basic’s crude slapstick humour is “not great” and “doesn’t deserve the views it gets”. This is a perfectly valid critique to make when supported by unbiased research but in the case of the How to Basic episode, Sean looks at another Youtube source for the financial status of a content creator like How to Basic and argues that that style of comedy is not worth that much money. This could have been avoided with some research on what funny is, what makes us laugh, what defines western comedy and slaptstick humour, and the algorithms which determine how much a Youtube content creator makes for each video. This sort of information, even without a script could form the basis of a solid argument and inform audiences on what makes comedy ‘worth it’.
In an era where internet fame is so heavily sought after by millions of Youtube content creators, content can be produced and shared worldwide with just a computer, camera and basic internet connection, and ‘funny’ is the biggest tag on Youtube, creators are looking to find out what is humorous and what is not and how to make money off of this. Sean’s podcasts take a collective of comedians ranging in popularity and with an online presence and outlines their styles, potential future trajectories and financial possibilities, helpful information for anyone seeking to enter into the comedy scene. The focus on Australian and American comedians narrows the audience to a more specific target and gives that audience a more specialised product. With some more research and some carefully selected variety, “What the f*** happened to comedy?” could become a more than excellent resource for content creators and comedy fans alike. As it stands now, “What the f*** happened to comedy?” is a decent review of comedians that demonstrates the viability of different aspects of the profession.