As a subset of the entertainment industry, the comedy industry has long played by the same rules. Consequently, the challenges budding comics face have much in common with those of would-be actors and musicians on their way to success. The “big break” comics long for could be a spot on that season’s Saturday Night Live lineup, or a role on a rising director/writer’s fresh new take on comedy for the new generation.
But what if comedians didn’t need a big break to start the career of their dreams? What if opportunities like became the gravy on top of an already successful career, instead of its prerequisite?
That’s where NFTs come in.
The status quo’s biggest pain points for comics
First, let’s examine what the current landscape is for comedians. In 2018, The Hollywood Reporter alleged that comedians active in the Los Angeles comedy club circuit could make “anywhere from $1,250 to $2,000 per week.” Wow! That’s pretty good. Except that such a claim wasn’t anywhere close to what that average LA comedian made at the time.
To unpack this so-called “comedy gold rush,” Vulture sat down with a different group of LA comedians to get a more realistic grasp of the average comedian’s earning power. Predictably, they found that most comedians in the scene weren’t making six-figure wages. Emmy nominee Ian Karmel even went so far as to say that he’d made “maybe $500 total doing stand-up in L.A.”
That’s a far cry from the fictionalized life of Jerry Seinfeld that we saw throughout the 90s. Most comedians simply can’t afford to live comfortably off of shows alone. Like most other creatives, comedians typically have to diversify their sources of income.
An extremely positive and preferred method of engagement to heckling
Want to support a comedian you like? Well, now you can buy NFTs to do just that. In the case of Jambb and its planned decentralized entertainment network, this venture has worked with entertainers across a wide crop of the entertainment industry — comedy included — to deliver fans more engaging and meaningful ways to interact with their favorite entertainers. Case in point, part of 2021’s run of Non-Fungible Jokin’ comedy shows saw Hannibal Burress take center stage. Clips of which became available on Jambb’s NFT marketplace.
Through the platform, users can collect comprehensive sets of digital memorabilia for their favorite rising comedians. Specifically, bits and pieces of their routines, podcasts, and even exclusive access to otherwise-unreleased specials. Jambb focuses on helping users mint and collect clips of their favorite comedy routines and specials as NFTs, which is a refreshing formula that could help young comedians sustain themselves financially while they take their first professional steps.
Fixing a broken model
Among other things, YouTube is known for lowering the bar of entry for video artists, especially comics. Since its 2005 launch, the video-sharing platform has been dominated by skit-based comedy. Creators like ProZD, CalebCity, Joel Haver, and a litany of others regularly amass millions of views via content. But there’s a problem: YouTube’s monetization model rewards creators who upload longer-form content onto the platform, as this format has a higher likelihood of ad revenue (which is how creators get their cut). But comic NFTs could circumvent this barrier, potentially enabling anyone with an ounce of funny-bone aspiration to become a comedian.
TikTok isn’t any better, either. Although the platform can potentially set you up for a litany of branding and partnership deals, the platform itself can be a bit of a stickler when it comes to its creator payouts. Got a million views on your last TikTok? Here’s 20 bucks. Go nuts.
That isn’t to say successful creators on these platforms can’t make a living regardless. However, the path to becoming successful doubtlessly requires luck, particularly in the form of a blessing from the algorithm. So what are comedians still on that journey themselves to do? Getting into NFTs could be a start.
Like anywhere else on the internet, humor is highly valued within the greater NFT community. Humor kept the community together during the rough first few months of the crypto bear market, after all. A deluge of absurd projects flooded OpenSea’s charts during this span of time, most notably the new NFT community mainstay Goblintown.
The NFT community even has a few figures well-regarded for their comedic chops that have built communities around their comedic sensibilities and overall attitudes toward the growing space. In between hosting slots at Rug radio, kmoney often puts into words the community’s feelings about recent developments in the form of humorous video skits on Twitter. Similarly, stand-up comedian Leah Lamarr has garnered notoriety in the space through her guest spots on the Web3 game show Internet Game, along with the honor of being TIMEPieces x Robotos’ 2021 entertainer of the year. Now, as a show of thanks for the warm welcome she received from the NFT community, she’s on a comedy tour named after the technology.
For comedians, NFTs and the community surrounding it are gradually building themselves up to be yet another alternative to the traditional route for new comedy careers. Social media enables you to build up an audience, sure. But in Web3? Even the smallest of comedians has a fair shake at building out a full-fledged community.