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I’ve been keeping my eye on a rapidly emerging technology – a technology that could potentially have a significant impact on stand-up comedy (as well as other live performing arts).
The technology I am referring to is virtual reality.
I have watched virtual reality gear become more and more prolific and very affordable.
What You Need To Know First
Before I get to the potential impact of virtual reality equipment on stand-up comedy, here are two things to consider:
- I am willing to predict that within the next 5 years a large number of households will have virtual reality equipment. Here’s the link to a great article about VR in Variety with a prediction on how quickly VR could proliferate in the next few years.
- An ever increasing amount of content will be needed in order to maintain, broaden and expand the virtual reality experience for the end user.
I am including virtual reality stand-up comedy performances as part of the content available for virtual reality users to enjoy.
You pop in a disc featuring your favorite comedian. You don the virtual reality gear and instantly, you are in sitting in a comedy venue, center stage, 3 or four rows back from the stage.
As you wait for the comedian to hit the stage, you can look in any direction and see real audience members talking in anticipation before the beginning of the show.
The comedian enters the stage and begins to perform. You can see and experience real audience laughter from the audience members surrounding you, just like at a real live show. You react and laugh with your virtual audience, just like at a live stand-up comedy performance.
Here’s why this is such a big deal…
Live Stand-up Performances Vs. Recorded Comedy Shows
The ability to realistically simulate being among a live, laughing audience during a stand-up comedy is ideal. This gives the comedian the most powerful tool they have to generate laughs in the first place — audience dynamics and the contagiousness of laughter.
Laughter is a shared response. But there is no contagiousness of laughter when it comes to individual viewership of recorded stand-up comedy performances whether they be on TV or when viewing online videos of comedians in action.
That’s because audience response no matter how wildly an audience is laughing does not carry over to an individual viewer of recording stand-up comedy.
Subsequently, the individual viewer of recorded stand-up comedy performance is left with a mere subjective evaluation of any comedian. In other words, if they like the material the comedian is delivering, they will think that comedian is funny.
But if they don’t care for the comedian’s material, they deem the comedian not funny no matter how loud and long the audience in the recording is laughing.
That’s why I believe that virtual reality stand-up comedy performances could have a significant impact on stand-up comedy.
I suspect that virtual reality stand-up comedy could become a very much in demand entertainment product because of the addition of an audience dynamic which would actually afford a comedian one of their most powerful attributes for generating laughs — a lifelike audience dynamic that stand-up comedy videos simply cannot provide.
The Big Picture
Here’s why I think that virtual reality equipment and content could be a real game changer for comedians and the stand-up comedy industry as a whole if done properly:
People love to laugh. I suspect that virtual reality stand-up comedy performances will take off once the content is made available.
Initially, it will be the big name comedians that will be featured in virtual reality performances. But it won’t be long before lesser name yet very funny comedians will get the opportunity to be a part of the virtual reality stand-up comedy experience.
As the demand for more and more virtual reality stand-up comedy shows increases, audiences will be more and more inclined to attend live comedy shows, causing an expansion of the comedy club market.
All these things point to more and more potential performing opportunities for comedians, the likes of which has not been seen in decades.
Only time will tell if the speculation that I have presented in this article will actually come to fruition.
But if it does, make no mistake:
Individuals who embark on a stand-up comedy career now and can develop and deliver a stand-up comedy routine in the next 2-5 years that kills audiences could possibly be exposed to performing opportunities that they could have never even imagined.