Comedy Central is taking a new approach to funny business by launching a Twitter-based comedy festival next week. Comics and directors including Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, Amy Schumer, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow will lead #Comedyfest with tweeted jokes containing the festival's hashtag, and clips of routines and roundtables shared through the new video platform Vine.
The online festival will kick off April 29th, with the first day featuring a panel discussion between Brooks, Reiner and host Apatow, The New York Times reports, in which Apatow and Reiner will attempt to convince the technologically wary Brooks to join Twitter. The panel will be live streamed from the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, and will be the festival's only event with an in-person audience. Comedian Steve Agee will host the "Vine Dining" party on Tuesday, which will share stories in six-second video snippets.
Comedy Central hopes the festival will prove to be a solid marketing strategy to further connect with fans by showcasing comics, a group that's been quick to adopt that direct approach. Louis C.K. notably made $1 million in under two weeks in 2011 by selling his Live at the Beacon Theater special directly to fans on his website. Comedy Central subsequently launched a site that allows comedians to sell their special directly to fans in a similar way, though the network collects a cut of the sale.
The network will also release "CC: Stand-Up," a free app supported by ads that will offer stand-up routines in the spirit of a dedicated cable channel. It includes an algorithm similar to music streaming and discovery apps that allows users to find new comedians based on what they've been watching. Comedy Central hopes to launch the app as early as next month. "What we spend a lot of time talking to networks and show runners about is, 'What do you put onto Twitter that will get people to change the channel or alert them to another way of enjoying the show?'" Fred Graver, head of TV at Twitter, said. "It's the same way we'd market our comedy through a billboard a few years ago."