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NYTimes: Comedy Goes Online

NYTimes: Comedy Goes Online

The WGA strike may be coming to end very soon, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still find ourselves discovering new episodic content online, as a result of out-of-work talent. That’s the crux of Dave Itzkoff’s terrific piece in the Sunday New York Times, where he samples some of the more popular comedy bits finding an audience through the Web. Among them: David Wain’s hilarious “Wainy Days,” Brad Neely’s “Baby Cakes,” and even the infamous Jerry O’Connell parody of Tom Cruise. As I’ve blogged before, one of the real tangible effects of the WGA strike will likely be a greater appreciation of digital short-form content. And, it looks like the genie is out of the bottle. From Itzkoff’s article:

Others who remained gainfully employed during these months have been happy to take advantage of their friends’ and colleagues’ sudden availability. While the strike did not prevent David Wain, the comedian and filmmaker, from finishing his directorial duties on an untitled comedy feature for Universal, he has used the time to recruit idle writers and actors for “Wainy Days,” a Web program he produces and stars in for MyDamnChannel.com.
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One recent episode, titled “The Pickup,” a merciless satire of the VH1 series “The Pickup Artist,” written by the screenwriter Jon Zack and starring Paul Rudd (the “Knocked Up” star) as a pompous lothario named Alias, has been watched more than 1.7 million times on YouTube alone. Mr. Wain pointed to this as a creative achievement he might never have accomplished if not for the strike.

“It’s been great,” said Mr. Wain, a Writers Guild member. “We can call up almost anyone, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ I thought I would be making these things by myself on my laptop, and now it’s like I’m running a whole TV series.”

The viewership numbers generated by these Web sites, where success is still measured in the hundreds of thousands, rather than millions, do not yet pose a threat to traditional broadcast television. But several executives and industry observers said that in recent months they have seen a stratification of Internet humor.

“We’re sort of in the cable-television era of Internet entertainment,” said Sam Reich, the director of original content at CollegeHumor.com, a Web site owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp.

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