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Twitter feeds can kill off comedy before it even starts

Twitter feeds can kill off comedy before it even starts

In the autumn we’ll be looking at the abuse/rape threats/Twitter row. But this is about Twitter in a different way.

140 characters expressed as things are going on is proving to be an irresistible force for changing things. This could be good or bad or both.

If Twitter doesn’t quite rule the world, it’s certainly warming up in the world of comedy, it seems and strange to believe.

And this from a social medium which currently reaches only about 25% of the population.

Public opinion expressed on the hoof can have a strangely powerful effect on the minds of all sorts of public servants, politicians and entertainers.

Soon it may be openly acknowledged that some policies are made not in response to focus-groups and hard research, but through the instant comment from those who happen to be wired up to Twitter.

Comedy First

In an article called ‘If you live by the tweet….’ in the Sunday Times Culture magazine (21 July 2013) Stephen Armstrong demonstrated how many a comedy show is being dissed almost before its started by Twitter followers.

It seems that Ben Elton’s The Wright Way was condemned because of adverse Twitter criticism. It may not have been a good show, (not many know), but the fact is that peoples’ thoughts can sink something at once, rendering it useless.

Peter Kay is reported also to be concerned about the phenomenon, as his kind of supporters are not generally tuned onto Twitter. His fear is that if a show is launched with ’extended hype’, it sets itself up for a big fall from Twitter comments.

Ash Atalla, producer of The Office and The IT Crowd told Armstrong, ‘if you want a weird experience, make a sitcom and watch it with a live Twitter feed on’. Within two minutes people are calling it crap, worse comedy ever, a fail!

Atalla took the view that people don’t go into work and rubbish a serious documentary they’ve seen. But they do go for comedy bigtime.

Twitter Lynching

It now has a name, are you surprised? Twitter lynching sums it up and Armstrong calls it now ‘part of the discourse.’

Of course there is Facebook too, and Thinkbox, commercial TV’s marketing body, confirmed to Armstrong that 44% of TV viewers share views while watching something.

Social media commentators, such as James Herring, believe that Twitterers are ‘the most vociferous haters’ on social media. New comedy is top of their list of places to aim sharpened spikes. The 140-character tweet can ‘be much funnier than what they hear on TV.’

It seems, Armstrong said, that TV executives set far more store on tweets than Facebook comments as their barometer. Editor of Comedy site Chortle, Steve Bennett, told Armstrong that execs ‘can tell the difference between 8m viewers, 8m interested viewers and 8m viewers who aren’t engaged.’

Engagement Is the Key

This is the modern trend that nobody who provides books, films, TV, food, politics or public service can ignore. People are saying what they think with fewer inhibitions, cruel or not, true or not.

Younger creatives tend to worry more about established critics. Younger ones are more likely to talk to their audiences, to Tweet right back.

What do you think? You can Tweet it, or email us straight in a comment.

Other blogs that connect:

Time to Cage the Twittering, Tweeting Bird of Internet Freedom, 22 January 2013

Even Comedy and Satire Have Gone Digital, 14 March 2012

Creative Arts On the Brain, Quite Literally, 18 June 2013

Do Digital Parasites Devalue the Currency of Creativity With Their Net Fakery? 4 June 2013

Too Big to Care About Public Opinion: How the Web Encourages Companies to Ignore What People Think, 20 May 2013

Facebook Is Bad for Your Health, But Good For Your Self-Esteem, 29 January 2013

Internet Memes Are Sometimes Fun with a Satirical, Serious Purpose, 25 September 2012

All That Twitters is No Longer Gold, 3 September 2012

Can a Price Be Put on Twitter? 6 June 2012

What If Facebook Was a Country and Other Ideas, 3 April 2012

Image: Harald Bischoff