Instant gratification

Having recently checked out Ryan Shelton’s work on Instagram we started to wonder what other Aussie-made comedy was available on the popular image-sharing platform. The answer? Not a whole heap, which surprised us because comedians are always plugging their shows on Facebook, tweeting their hilarious reactions to news events on Twitter, and making videos for YouTube. And if you believe blog posts like this one Instagram’s got millions of active users a month, so why aren’t comedians embracing its content distribution and marketing potential?

Alright, we’re exaggerating slightly; comedy is well represented on Instagram. Locally-made shows such as Mad As Hell, Kinne and Please Like Me all have a presence, but their accounts aren’t exactly serving up exclusive content. What you get is more of the content marketing variety, i.e. behind the scenes photos, clips from the show, and the kind of stuff you can also see on the show’s Facebook or Twitter. Their posts are also clearly put together by the show’s marketing team or social media person, who probably has to update the show’s website and do a bunch of other stuff too. We should probably feel lucky to get this content at all.

But what about individual comedians – stand-ups, writer/performers and the like? They’re all over Twitter, surely they’re doing cool stuff on Instagram? Well, yes, there are lots of them on Instagram, but exclusive content, conceived for Instagram – and that’s funny – is few and far between. Hamish Blake is a notable exception, he used Instagram last year to parody Humans of New York, while stand-up and co-host of The Little Dum Dum Club Karl Chandler has also been Instagraming one-liners, but otherwise it’s a mix of comedians doing the sort of observational comedy they’ve been doing on Twitter for years, or plugging their upcoming gigs. The funniest of these include Justin Hamilton, John Safran and Wil Anderson, who tend to plug less and post observational LOLZ more.

And yet we’re still wondering why Instagram hasn’t become a place for comedy in the same way that Twitter has. Part of the answer, perhaps, is that Twitter’s about pithy written content and comedians earn their living by coming up with just that, which means it’s not much of a stretch for them to tweet 140 characters of funny a couple of times a day. But adding images or video to the mix, as you have to for Instagram, requires a bit more effort – maybe even some planning – and if you’re a moderately successful comedian who’s already got a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel – all of which you run yourself and struggle to maintain – when have you got time for Instagram? Shouldn’t the priority be writing material, doing gigs, networking, pitching to production companies and and attending auditions?

That, and there’s no obvious revenue model for Instagram. You post some funny stuff on Instagram, you might gain a few followers. You post some funny stuff on YouTube and you can make money from advertising. Which platform would any busy comedian put their energy in to?

So yeah, don’t expect Instagram to become the home of laughs unless they suddenly do a Snapchat and introduce a Discover feature that has comedy in it. Instagram’s the place to go if you like landscape photography, snaps of other people’s food, and the odd bit of a funny from a comedian who’s just doing it for fun. And there’s something nice about that, that old doing it for fun thing. It’s like the 90’s internet, a weird and wonderful sandbox of mostly useless crap – exactly what smartphones were designed for in fact. Whack a Ludwig filter on it and hit Share!

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