I thought that this week, I’d write about the two websites that have affected comedy the most since their creation, for good or ill. The first is an obvious contender, and also has the greatest potential for enhancing the career of a comedian.
Twitter is definitely a double-edged sword for comics. There are acts who owe a great deal of their success to Twitter, and those for whom it can prove to be a huge hindrance. Since its inception, Twitter has both given birth to, and single-handedly destroyed the topical one-liner. Not to be confused with the topical joke, which is funny and well-thought out, the topical one liner is not about humour, but is instead a mirthless race to see who can type the same tedious pun the fastest. The topical one-liner is usually harmless. Horses. Richard the Third. The Pope. Three of the worst offenders of recent weeks. “If Richard the Third was alive today, he wouldn’t have had to look far to find a horse! #LOL”. You’ll all have seen them, unless you don’t follow lots of struggling comics out of a sense of unrequited solidarity, of course.
The harmless topical one-liner is an irritant, clogging up your otherwise charming and esoteric newsfeed, like trying to have a conversation with a beautiful, enigmatic sailor while an errant, jam-covered child repeatedly tells you it’s done a poo. Every now and again, a news story will emerge that’s clearly harrowing and upsetting, but provided no-one has to think too much about it, these events aren’t exempt from the topical one-liner. An example is the ongoing trial of Oscar Pistorius. I remember checking Twitter over a civilised morning cup of coffee feeling quite chirpy, but to see so many people choosing to trivialise the murder of Reeva Steenkamp for the sake of a couple of retweets made me despair. Twitter can be a fucker.
My recommendations for great comics who won’t (topical pun you into submission) to follow on Twitter are: Adam Hess (@adamhess1), Jayne Edwards (@JayneEdwards), and Liam Pickford (@ImLiamPickford). There are of course other great comics to follow, but these three are my personal favourites.
The other website has done nothing but harm comics. I was accused of needlessly publicising this website last time I criticised it, but I think it’s fairly well-known, and I hope people reading this are intelligent enough to realise that it’s an awful site. Sickipedia was set up in 2005, mainly as a depository for topical one-liners about horrible tragedies, but has since branched out into all kinds of awful.
Aided by Twitter, it has become one of the most harmful websites for comics, simply because of the huge amount of their jokes that are posted uncredited on the site. One-liner comics such as Gary Delaney (pictured) are hardest hit by this, as their jokes tend to be more memorable and Twitter friendly, but they aren’t the only ones at risk. Recently Dom Woodward had a joke reposted via Sickipedia on a DJ’s facebook page (with much more hateful language thrown in), and faced a barrage of abuse when he tried to claim credit for the joke, which made up two minutes of his routine. There are many desperately bad open mic comics who use Sickipedia jokes in their routines, meaning that firstly, they are terrible humans, and secondly, they’re probably using material another comic has had to burn after its publication. While Twitter is arguably helping a lot of comedians reach larger audiences, Sickipedia is forcing comedians into burning successful material, because sadly if you tell a joke, the internet can always tell it louder.