December 9, 2023 11:27:21

The Comedy Revolution: How OTT services are altering the standup scene, one mike stand, Comicstaan

In order to reach a larger audience, comedians like Anubhav Singh Bassi, Kaneez Surkha, Shankar Ram Chugani, and Gaurav Kapoor offer their opinions on OTT giving platforms.
A major development in recent years has been the popularity of comedy programmes on OTT platforms. Even though there aren’t many alternatives for fictitious comedy, standup competitions and specials are becoming more and more popular with viewers. There has been notice and admiration for shows like Comicstaan, One Mic Stand, Comedy Premiere League (Indian), and foreign productions like Chris Rock: Selective Outrage and Sommore: Queen Chandelier.

A select few comedians who have found success on OTT describe how the platform helped advance their careers while also giving stand-up comedy the much-needed boost it needed. Others tell us they do not believe OTT has a future because the platforms are now very picky about the artists they allow.

YouTube and Instagram were sufficient for attracting new viewers for well-known stand-up comic Anubhav Singh Bassi, but OTT offered an extra benefit. “The viewers that watch you on OTT have the means to pay for entertainment, so if they enjoy you, they will pay to watch your live performances as well. I could raise the ticket prices for my live performances as a result of my OTT specials, he says, adding that he wouldn’t give up on YouTube because “It will pay me as long as the video is being watched, unlike OTT, which has a one-time payment system.” Bassi, who has recorded a stand-up special called “Bas Kar Bassi” for an OTT platform, agrees.

Comedian Kaneez Surkha, who participated in Comicstaan, on how being a part of OTT programmes aided her career in both economics and gaining fame abroad. “I have not yet experienced the level of success that many boast about having through YouTube. But because to OTT, I was able to make some real money. They compensated us similarly to how comedians are paid in the US or the UK. OTT has also made me a household name abroad. Being a member of a major streaming company and living in New York put me on the list of top comedians. I’ve gained international recognition thanks to streaming services.

Not only that, but Surkha describes how technology made it possible for comedians like her to test out novel ideas. “For the programmes Improv All Stars and The Improvisers: Something for Nothing, I had the opportunity to develop two brand-new forms. It familiarised people with the novel comedy genre. and consequently assisted in our own growth,” she continues.

Working on OTT gave comedian Shankar Ram Chugani, who recently celebrated ten years in the business, greater credibility than on YouTube and Instagram. The number of people who follow us on social media is sufficient, but this is different. The Comicstaan finalist continues, “It is kind of a big deal to have a show on a platform with loyal subscribers.

“Recording your own videos and uploading them to your channel takes a lot of time, work, and consistency, all of which I find challenging. I don’t have the bandwidth to manage social media and live shows at the same time. Thus, OTT is similar to a marketing tool where you go, perform, get paid, and also gain not just fame but also recognition.

While the platform has many benefits and has helped many people revitalise their careers, comedians also point out how the industry has altered significantly over the past few years. A comic from Delhi named Gaurav Kapoor describes how OTT platforms’ production of 15-20 stand-up specials, competitions, and related revenue gave the industry a significant boost in 2017–18. “However, after that, only the best ones (comedians) remained and continued to do specials, whereas the new comedians stopped getting the chance,” claims Kapoor.

He concurs with Surkha, who continues, “Comedy was one of the first genres that OTT platforms drew their attention, and they earned our subscribers by bringing us on the platform, which I think was a very good move. However, they are now more picky. They might not be experimenting anymore, in my opinion. It might be that more people are watching their fiction shows.

Bassi continues by explaining how comedy on OTT might succeed if it strives to come up with fresh concepts. “Comedy has a bright future if OTT manages to develop shows that support standup performers while being distinctive from traditional standups. According to him, it may be podcasts or talk shows, just as in the West. “Change in formats of the shows is required on OTT because at the moment, they are only focusing on standups and the attention span of people is very low now,” adds Kapoor, who has produced the 50-minute OTT show Hahakaar. Stand-up specials lasting 1.5 hours may no longer be effective unless they are exceptionally good. I prefer to upload my special to YouTube in four parts because of this.

Even Surkha talks about using YouTube since she thinks it will help her gain greater exposure. “I believe I will post my next special on YouTube after working on OTT. First, it will increase my reach, and second, I can keep track of the views it has received since OTT withholds that information.