Radio 1 DJ Matt Edmondson Is Changing Comedy Via The Power Of Twitter

A Twitter Comedy Show sounds like the future, but pushing boundaries doesn’t always work...
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A Twitter Comedy Show sounds like the future, but pushing boundaries doesn’t always work...

Paloma's face is exactly how I felt following the Twitter show.

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I have to admit, when I read the press release ‘Twitter users will see two of the UK’s most entertaining comedians sparring with each other to create the best and most topical one-liners and banter, in no more than 140 characters. Alongside host Matt, the comedians will chat, joke and tussle their way through a typical panel show running-order, except that they will be on Twitter’ I didn’t hold high hopes. Comedy and Twitter go together like students and traffic cones (see Irvine Welsh, Rob Delaney), but a comedy SHOW on Twitter? ‘It can’t be done,’ I thought, ‘they’ll never pull it off,’ I decided, ‘I wonder how long it’ll go on for?’ I wondered.

It feels like such a commitment these days to follow anyone on Twitter, that I was hesitant to click the magic button for host Matt Edmondson, and celebrity funny people Katy Brand and Gary Delaney (who both suffer from having more famous, funnier namesakes), but click I did, all the while thinking ‘you better be real funny, or else, it’s straight to the ‘unfollow’ for you’. That is the magic of a Twitter comedy show. You can turn off 8 Out of 10 Cats (and should, at every opportunity), but it’s not as satisfying as letting the culprits know you’ve had enough of them through clicking a little red button.

The show got off to a bit of a slow start, with me sat refreshing the Ten Million Comedians page, waiting for something to happen. Then, a barrage of Tweets appeared, I stretched my laughing muscles and clicked to find....some pleasantries between the hosts. So far no jokes, but you’d expect the usual chit-chat at the start of any comedy show. However, quarter of an hour in (a quarter of the show, don’t forget) I found myself spinning in my chair, still waiting for anything significant to happen. Host Matt Edmondson did his best to explain the rules, but Katy and Gary seemed to be M.I.A, as did their jokes.

The show finally kicked off with the Hashtag Challenge, in which both comedians had to compete to get a random hashtag of their devising the most retweets. It was a round made for Twitter, as was my reaction ( :/  ) to Delaney’s first attempt, ‘People say it every year, but it's always funny when #superbowl is on and Brits ask about this ‘superb owl’ that has Americans so excited.’

Where on a television show, answers and jokes can be rapid fire, on Twitter, there’s a long, awkward pause that lets un-funny jokes linger and the attention wander.

Unfortunately, this chair-spinning, raised eyebrows routine became a constant feature of the hour. Where on a television show, answers and jokes can be rapid fire, on Twitter, there’s a long, awkward pause that lets the stench of un-funny jokes linger and the attention wander. Another problem with the format is the need to constantly be paying attention. If you’re not focused on the screen for the entire hour, you can miss a burst of messages, and end up having to rewind through the joke, reading backwards from punch line to inception.

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After half an hour Katy Brand tried to spice things up with this zinger ‘Thanks for a great night! I think I may have left a poo in a plastic bag in your kitchen #callme @TMCShow’ which left me going ‘haw haw haw! Oh Phew!’ as I wiped unrelenting beads of sarcasm from my brow. Delaney did raise a ‘hmph’ with this though, ‘Obama recently said that he couldn’t go into Syria without first having a mandate. I didn’t even know he was gay #allman.’ We were half an hour in, and the scent of real comedy was on the wind, by God, we were closing in fast.

Throughout the show, Edmondson tried to encourage people to tweet in and participate, but this felt a bit like the host stopping a TV panel show after every joke and asking the audience to text in what they thought about it. It was distracting to say the least, and did not help an already fractured show.

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At the 45 minute mark, the sign above was tweeted, with both comedians placed optimistically high.

7p.m. came too slowly and marked the end of a wasted hour.

7p.m. came too slowly and marked the end of a wasted hour. But, props where props are due. Edmondson is trying something new here, and teething problems are to be expected. It’s only a matter of time before Twitter has its own entertainment network and Edmondson seems to have seen this coming. Next week, with a tighter schedule, things might be better. We’ve all tried to do a funny tweet and some of you have failed. We therefore know how hard it can be to be funny in just 140 characters, and that’s without taking part in a comedy ‘show’ on a public platform (no, tweeting to Made in Chelsea parody accounts don’t count).

‘Joke of the night’ goes to Delany for ‘Part of [Beyonce’s] rider was she insists on red toilet paper. What’s the point in that? Surely, all toilet paper is red! Isn’t it?’ But generally, the jokes were more polite smirks, than sidesplitting axe wounds. Different guests should improve the standard of comedy, and I suspect that, much like the revolving host doors on Buzzcocksand Have I Got News... things will be pretty hit and miss from hereon in. However, you’re a person with a mind of your own, aren’t you? Yes you are, so make up your own mind about the second show (coming soon- check @TMCShow for details); there’s always the unfollow button.

Tom Ward’s tweets aren’t much better, but give them a go here.