TV guru launches Comedy.com
Dean Valentine wants to make you laugh. More specifically, he wants you to watch “How to Make a Hot Girl Laugh,” one of a handful of original Web series that he hopes will be the foundation of his new Internet venture, Comedy.com.Valentine, the former chief exec of UPN and prexy of Walt Disney Television, launched the video-stocked website late last week after more than a year of development and prepping of original material for the venture. Comedy.com is majority owned by Valentine’s Symbolic Action investment fund, with other investor coin coming from venture capital firms Prism VentureWorks and Walden Venture Capital. Comedy.com has a production studio in Santa Monica, where a half-dozen or so original Web series are being shot on high-def digital video. The website is programmed in part like a TV network, with new segs of ongoing series slated to bow on various days of the week. Site currently has no advertising, but Valentine hopes to add banner and embedded spots to its syndication-ready vids in the coming months. Most of the vids and episodic installments run two to four minutes, in keeping with Web tradition and the maxim that brevity is the soul of wit. Valentine said he aims to make Comedy.com a daily stop for mirth-seekers akin to a daily check-in with a newspaper comicstrip. The site has an elaborate system for registered users to rate and recommend videos, from the site and elsewhere, as well as user networking and blogging features. There’s also an “insult ticker” offering a steady stream of one-liner barbs (sample item from Wednesday: “Yo’ momma’s teeth are so yellow, I can’t believe it’s not butter”); a plethora of clips of standup comics in action; a searchable joke database; and, of course, a Joke of the Day posting. “What we’re trying to do is take the best and most innovative comedians and the most innovative Web 2.0 tools and create an online destination for comedy,” Valentine said. “Much like the (newspaper) funnies did for an earlier generation, we want this to be a daily dose of fun for people.” The target aud is young males, but Valentine believes Comedy.com’s original fare will have appeal beyond the 18-34 dude demo. “The nice thing about comedy is that it’s really broad. If you find something funny, you don’t stop laughing at it just because you’re 45 and not 22 anymore,” he said. “We think this will be a really broad category. Contrary to what some people would have you think, the Internet isn’t really only populated by 14-year-old boys.” Nonetheless, Comedy.com clearly has those 14-year-olds in sight with its spin on a gameshow, “How to Make a Hot Girl Laugh,” which gives two standup comedians 60 seconds apiece to get a chuckle out of a young woman displaying ample cleavage. Comedy.com recruited the producers of showbiz spoof series “The HollyWoody Show,” which has developed a following as a viral vid offering on the Internet during the past few years. Series features the brash correspondent Woody Wittman doing red-carpet interviews and on-the-scene reporting from industry events. “NNNews,” aka “Newest New News,” is Comedy.com’s daily satirical newscast. One of the first installments featured an “exclusive” interview with Roger Clemens’ steroid needle. “Loopy” is a weekly entry produced by sitcom vet Rob Long that features four improv comedians offering “Mystery Science Theater 3000”-style dialogue for popular Internet vids and snippets from classic films. “Pervert Clown” is a spiritual descent of Krusty the Clown from “The Simpsons,” or as Valentine describes it: “It’s like Krusty on crack.” Comedy.com has a number of other projects in the pipeline and a few things in the pilot stage, Valentine said. After years away from the day-to-day creative responsibilities of developing programming — Valentine exited UPN in January 2002 — Comedy.com’s boss is enjoying the process of scouting for new talent and shaping raw material. Helping him in the development and management of the site is Matt Komen, former talent booker for Improv Comedy Clubs and former producer for HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, who signed on early last year as Comedy.com’s head of original content. Scott Immergut, former prexy of Sandollar Prods., has been working with Valentine for the past few years and serves as general manager of Comedy.com. David Segura, formerly with Twistbox Entertainment, was tapped this month to serve as head of business development for the site.