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Funny Business Goes Online

"It was just really, really exciting to be able to make funny web videos with my best friends and learn about what I was doing along the way," she says. "You can only learn so much about your craft in college through reading about it and studying about it. But the practical application, when you’re actually on-set with a movie camera and lights and a script, that really educates you in what you’re doing."

While Carroll’s out of college now, she and the other members of Dutch West have continued to get exposure they wouldn’t have gotten if they’d only played comedy clubs.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Elaine Carroll and friends formed the Dutch West sketch comedy troupe in 2004 while still in college. Elainesoon found herself producting sketches for BudTV, SuperDeluxe.com, and Atom Films. She recently made itto the final auditions for The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. (Photo credit: Noah Kalina)

"I think it’s a lot easier for casting directors to simply go online as opposed to go to your comedy club, go to your show on Monday night," she says. "Not only is it an alternate path, but I feel like it might even be a quicker path." She’s found that having her work online has made it easier to find opportunities. Not all feedback is positive, but that’s part of the journey.

"People online can be cruel. If you post something to YouTube … hater’s going to hate, that’s all I can say," says Carroll.

The Changing Face of Comedy
Sketch comedy turned out to be ideal for online video, but online video also turned out to be the ideal calling card for comic performers. Some of the people we will see in sitcoms and movies in the next decade are the people who were able to seize the moment and get noticed early on.

"You’re getting seen way more than you ever would on just the stage, and I think that’s what helped me out as much as possible," says Donald Glover, who formed the sketch group Derrick (www.derrickcomedy.com) with some friends while they were students at New York University. With YouTube just getting popular, they decided to film their sketches and put them online.

"Immediately there were people e-mailing, putting down what they thought about it. It was amazing," Glover says. "Anybody in the world can see them. I had friends from India e-mailing me saying, ‘We’re freaking out over here about your sketches,’ and I’m like, ‘You live in India. How’s that possible?’"

Figure 3
Figure 3. "You’re getting seen way more than you ever would on just the stage, and I think that’s what helped me out as much as possible," says Donald Glover, who formed the sketch group Derrick with some friends while they were students at New York University. (Photo credit: Seth Olenick)

That exposure helped Derrick’s group members get noticed quickly.

"It really got people to know who I was without being everywhere at the same time," says Glover. "You do a sketch show for like eight months. It can be packed every night and you’re probably getting seen by like, I don’t know, at the most 3,000 people if you do it everyday. But if you do a sketch and put it up, it’s getting seen by thousands upon thousands of people, and it’s always available."

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