×

Entertainment and Tech Summit Explores Comedy Renaissance

For those looking to get an easy handle on how thoroughly the digital revolution has reshaped the entertainment landscape, look no further than actor/comedian David Spade’s new Comedy Central talk show “Lights Out With David Spade,” which was inspired by a series of Instagram posts.

“I’d walk around and try to do jokes instead of just here’s my food, here’s my dog, and it sort of started talk,” says Spade, who begins each episode of the talker with a video selfie. “I had network executives DM’ing me, saying, ‘This is different. Could you spin this into half hour?’ And that got me thinking, and then it started meetings and started pilots.”

Spade will be joining Kevin Nealon, Hannah Hart and Pete Holmes on the “Comedy Renaissance in the Digital Age” panel at Variety’s Entertainment & Technology L.A. Summit Sept. 5. They are just a few of the 50 leading creatives and execs appearing at the event to discuss, debate and explain targeted audience engagement, live over-the-top programming and other hot button topics. “Lion King” director Jon Favreau, Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra, Paramount TV’s Nicole Clemens and Spotify’s Courtney Holt are among the other notables that will share their insight at the event.

Nealon had an experience similar to Spade’s with his YouTube talk show “Hiking With Kevin,” which began when he spontaneously decided to record an out-of-breath interview with his friend, actor Matthew Modine, on his phone as they walked a canyon trail in the Pacific Palisades. Unlike Spade, he produces the resulting show all by himself and, at this point, there’s little in the way of monetary rewards, just the satisfaction of a job well done.

Popular on Variety

“It cost nothing, just time scheduling people and getting there and doing it,” says Nealon. “I edit the final product, too, and that takes a long time. It would be great to have sponsorship, but it’s really a passion for me.”

Nealon does get a piece of the ad revenue generated by his YouTube channel, but it’s chump change compared to a typical Hollywood paycheck. And these days it’s harder for up-and-coming talent to build sustainable careers on the platform in the wake of rule changes that demonetize less-popular channels and risqué content.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Hart, an eight-year YouTube veteran who parlayed her popular online series “My Drunk Kitchen” into acting roles (“Camp Takota,” “Dirty 30”) and a career as an author (her latest book “My Drunk Kitchen Holidays!” is due in October).

“I feel really good that it’s a less-lucrative space because it means there’s less pressure and you get to just explore,” says Hart. “It makes it less readily accessible to people who want to follow the same formula, just trying to get views on YouTube.”

The other good news for creators is the ever-growing array of new digital outlets for content, from SVOD services to ad-monetizable social video platforms such as Facebook Watch.

“With Watch, we’re trying to create a destination video service,” explains Ricky Van Veen, Facebook’s global head of creative strategy, who will appear with Crypt TV co-founder and CEO Jack Davis. “That’s where the longer-form content works. Once you have people there, the old lessons from 10 years ago about how people will only watch short videos on the internet are no longer true.”

One of the big appeals of digital platforms for execs and, to a lesser degree, creatives, is the ability to use the wealth of data they generate to shape and sell
the content.

“You learn where audiences really are into content and where they’re dropping off,” says Davis, whose 14-episode Crypt TV thriller “The Birch” premieres on Facebook Watch on Oct. 11. “But you always need the components of great storytelling.”

More Digital

  • The Crown Season 3 Oliva Colman

    Record Intl. Growth Sees Netflix Beat Q4 Earnings Forecast

    Fast growth in international markets, contrasting with only sluggish subscriber gains in North America, was a major factor behind streaming giant Netflix’s better than forecast growth in the last quarter of 2019. The company is set on keeping up that international momentum. Globally Netflix added 8.76 million new customers in the three months to December [...]

  • TikTok - LA lobby

    TikTok Opens New L.A. Office in Culver City

    TikTok, in a signal of the short-form video app’s growing clout and entertainment ambitions, announced the company’s Los Angeles operations have moved into a new 120,000-square-foot office in Culver City, Calif. TikTok’s new office space occupies five floors at the C3 campus at 5800 Bristol Parkway in Culver City. According to the company, the space [...]

  • SiriusXM president and CCO Scott Greenstein

    SiriusXM's Scott Greenstein Named Music Visionary of the Year by UJA-Federation

    SiriusXM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein will be honored by the UJA-Federation of New York as its Music Visionary of the Year on June 4 in New York City. The award recognizes exceptional professional accomplishments and commitment to philanthropy. Previous recipients have included Sony Music Group CEO Rob Stringer, Republic Records co-founders Avery [...]

  • Anjelah Johnson'The Curse of La Llorona'

    HA Comedy Festival Sets Lineup, HBO Max Comedy Special

    The newly launched HA comedy festival backed by WarnerMedia and New Cadence Productions has set its dates, talent lineup and plans for a special to air on HBO Max. The festival, to be held Feb. 21-23 in San Antonio, Texas, is designed as a showcase for Latinx comedians. It’s part of a first-look development pact [...]

  • Marvel-Strike-Force-FoxNext

    Disney Sells FoxNext Games Unit to Scopely

    Disney has sold off FoxNext Games, the studio it obtained through the purchase of 20th Century Fox, to mobile-games developer Scopely. Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Under the terms of the pact, Scopely is acquiring FoxNext Games Los Angeles, the game studio behind hit game “Marvel Strike Force,” and San Jose-based Cold Iron [...]

  • Andy Gaudin - VideoAmp

    Ad-Tech Platform VideoAmp Hires Andrew Gaudin as Chief Legal and Privacy Officer

    VideoAmp, which operates a platform for optimizing cross-platform video advertising, hired tech-industry veteran Andrew Gaudin as chief legal and privacy officer. Gaudin will oversee the company’s global legal and privacy affairs and is tasked with leading privacy compliance initiatives. He brings more than 30 years of experience to the role, having served in legal roles [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content