Human being have always valued humour – or at least they have done for a pretty long time, judging by a joke found dating from the Sumerian age (around 1900 BC) about how women shouldn’t fart in their husbands’ laps (cue the equivalent of historical tumbleweed blowing through the room…)
But now those gifted with a finely honed wit aren’t just the most likely to have a wide circle of friends or go out with the best-looking partners (often despite a distinct lack of money or looks, after all, how many woman have ruefully exclaimed “He laughed me into bed”?). They are now increasingly colonising Internet entertainment. We have watched comedians dominate chat shows (Graham Norton, Alan Carr), talent shows (Michael McIntyre), panel shows (Have I Got News For You, Newsnight and Question Time), films (Get Him to The Greek) and theatre (Art).
And now they are wiping out the natives in social media and setting up their fiefdoms. Why? Because just like on TV they are the kings of content – both planned and ad-libbed – and because just like the web, comedians have always thrived on the value they offer through their social currency. After all, being witty is about sharing “social currency” to gain some sort of social advantage or to entertain.
And where are we seeing this?
Well, to launch the Sony Ericcson range of Xperia smartphones, they created a live online experiment with comedian, Tommy Little, locked in a room, with just his Xperia and a live video link. Over 8 hours, Tommy had to get as many people as he could to like him on Facebook by doing whatever it was they asked him.
And recently Conan O’Brien caused an Internet sensation with his address to Dartmouth College.
Comedy is clearly a profession to get into if you have the gift to make others laugh, as there are only so many ‘big names’ that brands will be able to get their hands on. One can only speculate that if brands can’t bag comedy stars, they will focus instead on making them in the years ahead. As while comedians are determined to colonise the web, brands are even more determined to, by harnessing their talent.