Pitch, a new app designed to streamline the comedy-writing process, will launch at Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival July 30 as part of the festival’s ComedyPro programming in an effort to bolster awareness of the app’s potential to facilitate writer-publisher connections.
Backed by Funny Or Die, the app is free for contributors and charges a subscription fee to publishers based on their content needs. Matt Klinman, Pitch’s creator, was a writer at Funny Or Die when he conceived Pitch and partnered with its other creators, designer Brad Mahler and engineer Yin Zhu.
Funny Or Die hosted an internal “hackathon” of sorts to synthesize the design, as well as providing engineering resources. Funny Or Die also uses Pitch for content on its website and social channels to help get the app on its feet.
The basic mechanism of the app is simple: publishers or other content aggregators create a topic, and Pitch users contribute laughs to that topic anonymously for a specified amount of time, while upvoting jokes they like. After the pitching period closes, the contributions are ranked by votes so writers can see how well (or how poorly) they fared. Pitch automatically invoices publishers for purchased jokes to ensure writers receive payment. Through repetition and observation of their jokes’ success, writers can better their content.
Klinman conceived the app to create a more streamlined approach to writing and selling jokes after spending over 10 years in the comedy writing community.
“You read articles online about how to get a break into comedy but it’s very amorphous, you just find your way after doing it for a while and there’s no clear way to build,” he said. “It was all sort of relying on self-promotion and it’s all kind of impenetrable.”
Klinman added the long-term goal of the app is help writers get gigs. Avocados from Mexico recently used Pitch to formulate its successful #avosecrets campaign, and VaynerMedia has licensed Pitch for use on several upcoming campaigns. With Funny Or Die continuing to back the project and IFC recently joining up to create content for its social channels, Klinman hopes comedy writers will be able to turn to Pitch for steady work.
Mike Farah, CEO of Funny Or Die, emphasized the importance of maintaining Pitch’s invite-only user base to ensure high-quality jokes. “As soon as you have credibility in comedy, you can accomplish great things,” Farah said. “That’s why we really want to make sure the community is at a really high standard.”
After the Pitch’s debut at JFL, Klinman and Farah hope that awareness of the app will spread.
With the comedy scene generally dominated by white men, the diversity of Pitch’s user base is also critical. Klinman said Pitch partnered with the Diverse as F— Comedy Fest to offer membership to all who participated in the fest’s writing workshops, and a Pitch user recently dropped Klinman’s contact info into an all-female Facebook group of comedy writers to amp up the female voice of Pitch.