Comedy Central widens ‘Load

Laffer net loads up on amateur Web content

Comedy Central is looking to beef up its online broadband channel MotherLoad by encouraging amateurs to send in what it calls “test pilots” of one to five minutes.

“Live-action, animation, sketch or hidden-camera — any format is acceptable,” reads a statement from the network. “The only prerequisite: It shouldn’t suck.”

Comedy Central will partner with sibling iFilm.com to create an online competition for amusing shorts. People can send submissions from May 22-Aug. 24. Network staffers will choose three test pilots a week from all of the submissions for four weeks, streaming them onto the Comedycentral.com Web site.

Online users will cast their votes, and the highest-rated submission each week becomes a semifinalist. Comedy Central execs and online users will jointly select the eventual winner, who comes away with a deal to produce a series for MotherLoad.

Lou Wallach, the net’s senior VP of original programming and development, said, “I think we’ll get a lot of good stuff because so many people in our audience are using Internet technology to be creative.”

It’s not the main goal, but Wallach said one or more of the winning shorts could eventually reveal so much talent that the producer might end up doing shows for Comedy Central itself.

“There may be a two-minute series out there,” Wallach said, “that could work just as well as a 22-minute series,” which in the world of TV is 30 minutes, less commercials.