Why Stand-up Comedy YouTube Videos Usually Don’t Go Viral

For those comedians who are motivated to become a stand-up comedy sensation on YouTube…

To become a hit on YouTube, you need a video that goes viral.

And for most comedians, that simply isn’t going to happen because…

For a stand-up comedy video to go viral on YouTube (meaning the link to the video is passed along from person to person over and over again), it must have very broad appeal to a large segment of people.

Unfortunately, most stand-up comedians don’t develop a stand-up comedy act that does have broad appeal — it has appeal to only a certain segment of the population.

This aspect of stand-up comedy actually has ramifications beyond the mere viral potential of YouTube videos because…

The more limited the audience a comedian can perform for effectively, the fewer performing opportunities are available to those comedians as a general rule.

Related Article: You Kill On Stage And You Got The Killer Video – Proof That You Seriously Rocked The House! Then This Happens…

Don’t get me wrong — some comedians can do very well in segmented markets (ethnic, gay, Christian, etc) and get some fairly decent play on YouTube.

Tim Hawkins is one such comedian who gets a ton of views on YouTube without the usual “star” power needed to get that level of attention with online videos (his testimonial is on the home page at Killerstandup.com).

But the big brass ring as far as stand-up comedy goes is to develop a stand-up comedy act that has appeal to the widest possible audience (which usually — but not always — affects a comedian’s income potential).

This is one of the reasons why a growing number of comedy club comedians develop a comedy club act and a corporate type or family friendly act (which pays 10-30 times more than a comedy club headliner performance).

Needless to say, this same aspect of broad appeal also affects the “virility” potential of a stand-up comedy video on YouTube.

Ironically, one of the most highly viewed viral videos in the history of YouTube was a 6 minute stand-up comedy performance by Justin Laipply called the Evolution of Dance:

Why did this YouTube video go massively viral? Very, very broad appeal.

Someone watching the video doesn’t even have to be able to understand English to be entertained by this funny video clip because it is physical comedy coupled with music.

But as a general rule…

Comedians will usually get more views on YouTube with bad performances or getting heckled while they are performing than they will with a killer stand-up comedy set unless they have “star” recognition.

And as always, there are exceptions to the rule.

So, now you know why stand-up comedy YouTube videos don’t usually go viral.

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4 Replies to “Why Stand-up Comedy YouTube Videos Usually Don’t Go Viral”

  1. OK, it’s just me, right? I thought The History of Dance got old fast. (“Hey, he did ‘Walk Like An Egyptian'” And then he did–some other videos I remember!) This is really discouraging.

  2. Does it matter that a comedian’s YouTube video doesn’t go viral? I mean, the very nature of our art demands a live audience that will reward us with the immediate feedback of laughter. All our efforts are invested in generating more and more positive response to our work (witness the importance of such tools as PAR scores and the Comedy Evaluator Pro). Am I missing something in this article, or are there actually performers out there who equate becoming aYoutube sensation with stand-up success?!

  3. Having broad appeal has it’s own cons. Comedian Daren Streblow said that when he was starting out he was thrown out of a comedy club for telling jokes about fast food. Now maybe he told a joke that was very similar to another comedian’s, which would make more sense than them banning the entire topic of fast food, but it brings up an interesting point: Wouldn’t you come across as less creative if you used all the standard broadly appealing topics for your act? I’ve heard big name comedians tell jokes that were only worded slightly different from another big name comedian. Even though the jokes were two different jokes, the second one reminded me so closely of the first that I felt like I was hearing the original joke all over again.

    I’m not trying to discredit the idea of having jokes that a lot of people can relate to. I just wanted to point out that caution should be taken with those overused topics.

    But now that I’m thinking about it… you could probably turn the expected joke about McDonald’s food not being real food in an entirely different direction and get a laugh. So I guess the moral to the tale is, be careful, and use your audience’s built-in expectations to your advantage (almost like magicians do when they show you a trick you already know the method to, but then openly show that they aren’t using that method, and still create the same result with a different method you aren’t familiar with)!