It’s funny. When Comedy Central tried to roll out the series Shorties Watchin’ Shorties in 2004 wherein live stand-up comedy bits were put to animation, it lasted only nine episodes. Perhaps the network was too ahead of the curve? Because it seems more and more comedians are using the same vehicle to promote their material and offer Web viewers more original content.
Comedian Steve Hofstetter recently debuted his newest online project—a series called Animated Revolution, backed by Fremantle (the online arm of the company that produces American Idol). And the premise is pretty similar to what Comedy Central attempted to do years ago.
Check out the first video in the series, starring Ted Alexandro.
Over the weekend, we asked Hofstetter a few questions about Animated Revolution. Here’s how that turned out.
How did you get involved in this?
It was my pitch. I’d created a cartoon a few years ago of my stand-up. It did well on the film festival circuit. About two years ago, a rep from Fremantle came out to one of the Next Round Entertainment showcases.
She liked me and Rob Gleeson, and she asked us if we had any shorts we wanted to pitch to Atomic Wedgie. We pitched about 10 different ideas, and this is the one they liked. They greenlit us over a year ago – and we’ve been trading notes, developing, and lining up the talent. Finally, we got to release the pilot, and they’ve ordered two more episodes.
I’m the executive producer, and Rob is the producer. We both storyboard it, and then Palmer’s Medic does the music. After that, we give it to Robert Potter to animate. And after a billion people at Atomic Wedgie sign off on it, it goes live.
How often are these videos going to come out?
We have two more scheduled. I’d guess it’ll take about a month each. The idea is that once we have some of these under our belt, we’ll pitch it as a larger show. There’s never been an animated sketch comedy show, or animated variety show— imagine how much funnier Kids in the Hall or Laugh In would have been if they didn’t have the limits of physical action.
How do you pick the comics and the bits used for the videos?
We look for a number of things: high profile, big web presence and comics that are easy to work with. But most of all, the series is called Animated Revolution, so we look for comics that are fantastic writers, and can drill a hole right through pop culture. We gravitate towards darker and edgier.
As for the bits themselves, the rules are 60-90 seconds and FCC friendly. Aside from that, we look for something where animation can enhance the joke, and something that is damn funny even without a cartoon.
It seems a lot of comics are using animation these days to promote their work. Why is that?
Live stand-up is an amazing communal experience. But stand-up on TV, especially the way it’s often shot, can be boring. Years ago, Pulp Comics tried to add to stand-up with act outs, but the live action came off as cheesy. Animation allows us to do the ultimate act out. It can bring a joke to life without the cheese factor. WIth the viral nature of online video, animation is a natural way to spread stand-up – and if done well, can be more interesting than watching someone stand in front of a brick wall.