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Podcasts pop, but show me the profit!

Montreal Just for Laughs 2012

Like Twitter and YouTube, podcasting represents yet another way today’s comics can take charge of connecting directly with their audiences. But as the podcast phenom makes stars of its most popular practioners, the question remains: Where do they go from here?

“I’m getting big crowds of fans at shows on the road, which is remarkable considering I haven’t been on ‘Conan’ or ‘The Tonight Show,’?” says Duncan Trussell, host of “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.” “It lessens that initial audience education comedians have to do. After listening to hours and hours of your rambling, they know exactly what’s in store for them.”

In effect, podcasts can help comedians distill their voice down to its purest form. For Trussell, that was one of the benefits of putting out weekly shows instead of recording sessions whenever he felt like it.

At times the podcast itself can draw a crowd. “How Was Your Week?” host Julie Klausner regularly sells out with live recordings, featuring special guests such as Jim Gaffigan and Ted Leo.

The format, however loose, is a direct link to Klausner’s sensibilities. “People who listen to the podcast know where I’m at week-to-week; they know how my brain works similar to my closest friends,” she says. And the live shows are a natural extension of that intimacy.

It’s harder to maintain the podcast’s core when applying its style, or key players, to other media. IFC recently launched “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” based on the popular podcast, and is slated to launch a narrative series based on the life of podcast guru Marc Maron. Nerdist Industries, operated by Chris Hardwick and featuring a family of podcasts and YouTube series, was recently purchased by Legendary Entertainment with plans to expand the brand into movies and TV.

The trick is to remember what already works. Podcasts were created by comedians for comedians — best to stay out of the artists’ way. “I see podcasts as the independent films of the 21st century,” says Debbie DeMontreux, senior veep of original programming at IFC. “The reason we want to work with (podcasters) is because of what they’re already doing.”

Montreal Just for Laughs 2012
Googling for giggles | In pursuit of podcasting | The Honorees
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