Last week, the media was ablaze with “Saturday Night Live” coverage. In one fell swoop, the legendary sketch show lost two of its best cast members, Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, who have gone on to graze greener pastures.
With the loss of Hader and Armisen, “SNL” finds itself with a drought of widely-loved sketch comedians and being dangerously close to diving into a valley of irrelevance as it has many time since its debut in 1975.
Around the same time of Armisen and Hader’s departure, YouTube Comedy Week introduced the general public to the homegrown comedy acts that helped build YouTube into the entertainment powerhouse we know it as. The recently ended one-week event tried to show the world that YouTube stars could hold their own against industry vets like Sarah Silverman and Norm McDonald. The result, however, was less than groundbreaking.
Both events have left audiences, or at the very least comedy fans, nervous about the future of comedy on both YouTube and television. The institution that is “SNL” looks to be slowly fading into a period of yawn-inducing performances, while Comedy Week unintentionally showed that YouTube isn’t quite ready to break out of 5-minute skits and parody rap songs.
With the announcement that YouTube is rolling out live streaming capabilities for all creators, at least one YouTuber has had the thought that he or she should try live sketch comedy ?a la “SNL.” I’m here to tell you, that is a terrible idea.
The live event that kicked off Comedy Week proved that YouTubers excel not in a live setting, but instead in the comforts of a studio with jump cut editing close at hand. That’s not to say YouTube comedians aren’t talented (pitchforks down, please); it’s just that the modern genre that is YouTube comedy has always followed a time-tested formula of vlogging, parody or pre-recorded skits. There is no shame in any of that either. The failed YouTube channels of mainstream comedy powerhouses have shown that being a YouTuber takes a special blend of comedic timing and knowing one’s audience. Like chess, it’s easy to pick up but near impossible to master.
It’s not that I’m saying every person on YouTube is incapable of breaking into live streaming sketch comedy via YouTube. However, at least with the grim spectres of YouTube’s “Big Live Comedy Show” and the sinking ship that seems to be “SNL” hanging over the collective heads of digital comedians everywhere, it might be safer instead for YouTubers to stick with the format they’ve spent all these years perfecting.
Check out NMR’s coverage of YouTube Comedy Week below: