Comedy on the internet is obviously very popular. It is entertaining for the viewer and just a three-minute laugh can engage the audience in a very simple way. It is also accessible anywhere on YouTube or other social media services, and if you want to laugh at something you can access humorous material quite easily. Comedy tops the YouTube charts, whether it’s a talking dog, a laughing baby or someone having a domestic accident.
You will notice that most of this comedy is not character-driven; rather, it is sketch-driven and therefore you don’t have to connect with the characters in order to be amused. Most of these so called viral videos are one-offs. Like the 80s’ one-hit wonders, they achieve huge success with their first single but are not able to repeat that initial success and sustain a continuous audience.
This is one of the reasons that sitcom writers and creators develop strong character-based stories. Audiences connect with characters, even in comedy. As with drama-based stories, it is crucial that the audience has an empathetic connection with the characters. But the level of engagement with the majority of comedy content available on the internet is actually quite ephemeral and once consumed, people will move on from it. The point is that this transitory engagement makes it quite difficult for a comedy-based product to connect with an audience using transmedia.
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