I was planning on going to check out another comedy session, and then was so excited when I discovered that Fred Armisen from one of my favorite shows, Portlandia, was on the panel! Transitioning Alternative Comedy to TV was a perfect session for anyone that enjoys humor and good conversation (so hopefully everyone!). The fantastic panel of alternative comedians, all from IFC, included Armisen, Scott Auckerman, Marc Maron and Chris Gethard.
Maron said that alternative comedy is generally done for no money in places that aren’t comedy clubs. There was a time, in the mid 90s, when there were two great clubs in NY and LA to go see alternative comedy, Luna and Largo respectively. That was the birth of it. He said sometimes you would go there and see Zach Galifiankis dressed up like Benjamin Franklin outside, just cause!
Armisen said that when he first moved to LA everyone told him to Largo. He’d go there by himself and just love it and knew it was the perfect place for him. Then, when the question and answer portion of the session came out Armisen showed off his amazing voice skill and spoke in every accent the audience requested- to the point of even answering some questions in Spanish!
Moaron said the podcast was what really helped change comedy for him and evolved it to allow him to get a TV show. In the past, you would pitch a TV show semi-based on your life and if the team didn’t like it you would go back two years later and hope that either your life had gotten a lot better, or a lot worse, so that there was interest the next time. He said the media landscape is so fragmented now that if you do have the chance to move people then go out there and do it any way you can get your audience.
Auckerman said that his show started as an Internet-only radio show. They put it out then as a podcast for a while just for fun while he was writing movies. Then, the opportunity for his current show came about and quickly became popular because of the fans from the podcast. He couldn’t emphasize enough though that budding comedians should work on what they find interesting. For him it just happened to be podcast, there wasn’t a grand scheme or plan to go beyond that. Plus, if you are on air at a certain time only people have to be watching/listening then. With podcasts they can go at their time.
Gethard said the great thing about IFC is that the team lets the comedians run their show. It’s very rare in the business for developmental people’s mentality to let others run the show. But, it’s important to not be afraid to fail when you are going at it, and definitely do a lot of free shows.