So much web video is garbage. Still, everyone once in a while someone manages to get it right.
Web series as a genre is finally coming of age as viewing habits shift from television to digital. More and more writers and directors are doing web video well, and great series are finally getting a chance to shine.
Sure, the most popular work is still being produced like major houses like Netflix and Hulu. But every once in a while, a small team or unemployed director manages to make a short series (or series of shorts) actually worth diving in to.
These are our picks for narrative web-exclusives actually worth watching — prepare to lose the next six hours of your day.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could turn funny into an algorithm, wrap it up in a talking metallic box and plop it on a stage? A group of researchers has done just that–or at least they tried to–by creating a robot comedian.
The scientists from Queen Mary’s Cognitive Science Research Group created a RoboThespian “to study how the audience relates to a robot performer,” io9 reports, “and what adjustments the robot can make on the fly to better connect with its audience.”
Fun with Data
There is only one discernible way to make flying more hellish, and Virgin Atlantic has just added it to its roster, alongside the purple mood lighting and ability to order beer via TV screen: the airline has introduced live stand-up comedy to select domestic U.K. flights.
Aziz Ansari is apparently using analytics so his jokes don’t bomb. He’s in the middle of a series of “intimate shows” in New York and Montreal to prepare for an upcoming stand-up special, but it’s not open to all. Instead, he’s selling $10 ($10.48 CAD) tickets via a lottery of people who fit into certain demographics.
Refusing to relent to the fact that its main purpose is to host adorable videos of kittens, YouTube is fortifying its $100 million bet on original programming with the release of “My Damn Channel Live,” a daily live comedy show debuting next week.
My Damn Channel is an entertainment website that’s been around since 2007 and was named one of TIME’s 50 Best Websites in 2011. “My Damn Channel Live” is their first foray into live daily comedy, and serves as yet another example of comedy’s migration from TV to Internet. Comedy has recently established itself as the entertainment genre most likely to take risks in the name of innovation, as Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari have demonstrated.
Our boo Aziz Ansari, Parks and Rec star and comedian extraordinaire, announced via Twitter today that he was pulling a Louis C.K. and offering his new standup special, “Dangerously Delicious,” online only. Fans just have to enter their email address and pay $5, and they can stream or download the special directly from Mr. Ansari’s website.
Louis CK’s had a pretty unlikely career: After a bunch of failed television shows, the man commonly known as the comedian’s comedian finally had a hit with his latest—Louie, on FX—when he was given the creative autonomy to do what he wants with it. It’s all too fitting, then, that he’s taken today to Reddit’s famous AMA (or: Ask Me Anything) forum, about as likely an unlikely viral success as Louis CK himself.
In front of a packed house, Jeff Glasse grasped a mike at the Village Lantern down on Bleecker. “My brother’s in the army and he’s always sending me pictures of himself—pictures of him and his cub pack, whatever you call the other guys he’s with,” the standup comedian said. “In every picture he sends me he’s wearing camouflage. I don’t really have the heart to tell him that I can see him, in these pictures.”
There was peal of laughter from a woman in the crowd.
Stand-up is a sideline for Mr. Glasse, whose website home page features two portraits of him. On the left Mr. Glasse is dressed in all black, a microphone in one hand, his other hand out in a “What’s the deal with…” shrug reminiscent of Jerry Seinfeld. On the right Mr. Glasse is standing in front of a white board, wearing glasses, holding an iPhone with a strange looking video camera attached. “I’m a comedian. I’m also the CEO of a tiny new company,” reads the website’s banner. “Which one makes me more pathetic?”
That self-deprecation is Mr. Glasse’s own form of camouflage. A student of 17th-century literature at Princeton, he worked in video production for ESPN and the United Nations before founding, DIGIT, a company that helped pioneer the field of interactive exhibits for museums. These days Mr. Glasse is is the co-founder and CEO of Kogeto, a small New York startup trying to revolutionize the way people shoot and watch video by producing the world’s first affordable, handheld, panoramic video camera.