One of the challenges I issued to the Toronto comedy scene when I started this blog was to get better at Internet. Too many lame websites, not enough fresh content and an all around lack of savvy has had local comics looking seriously out of touch and lagging behind. Admittedly, the social media self-promotion machine is not most natural of habitats for the self-effacing comedian, but “being shy” is no longer an excuse for a lackluster web presence. Thankfully, there are signs of improvement.
Altdot Comedy Lounge may not be the bastion of “alternative” comedy it purports to be (unless you count… You know what? Fuck that whole discussion. It’s not worth the time.), but it has certainly become the makeshift home of Toronto’s most consistent pool of compelling talent. They’ve been hosting shows packed with worthy headliners for a years and recently they’ve made the (relatively) progressive move of broadcasting their best shows live on Ustream.tv. Now, the merits of watching live comedy on your computer are debatable. Why tune in when you could show up in person? Comedy is not supposed to be comfortable. Plus, it’s not as if people in Sweden are watching, wisecracks from performers notwithstanding. (If anyone can prove otherwise, I would love to be corrected.) But the live broadcast is just the tip of the iceberg. The real value of this exercise is in Altdot’s growing YouTube channel.
Up until 3 months ago, the trio of three-year-old commercials posted had collectively accumulated less than 200 views. Now, scrolling through their uploads, you’ll see the names of almost two dozen top Toronto comics and their best material on offer. Overnight, Altdot’s channel has become the best online showcase of current, local comedy clips – besides me, obviously. Full sets from Fraser Young, Mark Forward (above), Dave Merheje, Nikki Payne, Pat Thornton, Mark DeBonis, Sara Hennessey and too many more to list. All just a click, then some typing, and then another click away. On top of that it’s easy to navigate and the quality of both video and comedy is high. Major kudos is (are?) due.
I’m going to post another one BECAUSE I CAN.
Morgan Flood of Diamondfield and everybody involved with the Altdot show deserve praise for this endeavor. The only suggestion I might ask for would be tighter sets. Not that the comedians aren’t funny, but online viewers are less likely to stay tuned in for 15 minutes of someone they don’t know that well. On broadcast days it might be smart and beneficial for everyone to keep the sets under 10 minutes. And really, the only reason I can see to keep the live broadcast going is as an incentive to keep expanding the archive. Overall though, the project is a success. It injects a dose of visibility into a scene that deserves to be seen. Anyone interested in promoting our local arts community should know these performers well and thanks to Altdot, we no longer have an excuse not to. Hopefully others in the comedy community follow Altdot’s lead and get their web shit together.
Altdot Comedy Lounge is every Monday at The Rivoli (334 Queen St.) Check out their YouTube Channel and follow them on Twitter and Facebook