YouTube & Comedy: International Society for Humor Studies


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What can analyzing YouTube comedy videos (most viewed and highest rated) tell us about comedy preferences? What percent of top 1500 YouTube Partner channels are comedy? What techniques and comedic devices appear to be common of the popular YouTube videos? Author of "Beyond Viral," career marketer, and YouTube "weblebrity" Kevin "Nalts" Nalty provides preliminary findings of extensive research on YouTube humor and comedy videos.

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YouTube & Comedy: International Society for Humor Studies

  1. 1. What Can YouTube Tell Us About Comedy Preference? Comedy Preference? Comedy Preference? <ul><li>Testing Humor Theories Via Quantified Data: A Workshop on YouTube's Most-Viewed Comedy Videos </li></ul><ul><li>by Kevin “Nalts” Nalty </li></ul>
  2. 2. What Are You Expecting Who are you? What would make this your favorite session? They didn’t really have any requests or questions, which was surprising. I probed and got nothing. So I was shocked they stuck around after I wrapped and asked lots of good questions, unlike most business audiences.
  3. 3. Let’s Talk About Us Discussed common ground of curiosity about humor, despite different geographies and disciplines. Likened humor to YouTube to electricity: all are neither good nor bad. It depends on how they’re used.
  4. 4. I polled audience on how many were academics. All but 2-3 raised their hand. Then I asked who had a sense of humor. Only about 7 volunteered that. I played this “hahaha” video as a test. They laughed.
  5. 5. Archaeologists & Aliens Making conclusions about human society based on limited data. What do archaelogists and aliens have in common, and how is this exercise similar? Making conclusions about society based on limited data. I thought the alien photo would be self explanatory... Aliens, before making the less triumphant journey to our world, always seems to immerse themselves in our television shows... and sometimes ones that haven’t aired in years. Perhaps surprisingly, the image of the alien was far from self explanatory unless you’re me.
  6. 6. So What Can YouTube Teach Us About Us? <ul><li>Agenda </li></ul><ul><li>Redefining YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube & Comedy </li></ul><ul><li>Research Methodology (5 waves) </li></ul><ul><li>Preliminary Findings </li></ul><ul><li>Additional Insights </li></ul><ul><li>Moving Forward... </li></ul>But first, who is this “Viral Video Genius”?
  7. 7. Brief Intro <ul><li>The only career marketer who doubles as YouTube “weblebrity” with 200 million views on YouTube. Author of “Beyond Viral.” Master of humility. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>Played really horrible “Best of Nalts” draft, and decided I’d never use it again.
  8. 8. YouTube as Comedy Data Mine? Comedy Data Mine? <ul><li>Challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Sample bias: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70% are American </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>50% are 20 years or less* </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small % of viewers “vote” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New-medium bias </li></ul><ul><li>Reaction to creator or content? </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Easier to quantify than other mediums: </li></ul><ul><li>views, ratings, likes/dislikes, subscribers (examples follow) </li></ul><ul><li>More data normalizes findings </li></ul><ul><li>Better than sample/panel </li></ul><ul><li>Apples-to-apples </li></ul>* Source: ReelSEO overused the words “confounding variables”
  9. 9. YouTube & Comedy <ul><li>Of 2010's most viewed series, almost all were comedy series </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Annoying Orange, Autotune The News, Key of Awesome, Smosh, College Humor, Shane Dawson, Ray William Johnson. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Of YouTube’s 1500 most-subscribed channels “comedy” represents about 15%. </li></ul><ul><li>Discounting music-videos or videogaming, total is closer to 25%. </li></ul><ul><li>Vlogging (video blogging), which is common, are more difficult to categorize. </li></ul><ul><li>In terms of global preferences...tough one.  Wanna call me tmrw? </li></ul><ul><li>BTW went to Doylestown playground castle today .  Good times. </li></ul>Yes this is based on a review of all 1500 channels, but 15 turns to 25 percent if you knock out music. Vlogs are a “confounding variable” since they’re funny or not. This info-graphic served absolutely no purpose except to provide color to a gray page.
  10. 10. killer video from youtube trends about best videos of 2010, but I found this one by Gregory Brothers later ( check it ). I talked about them too much.
  11. 11. Research 5-Waves & Preliminary Findings Preliminary Findings
  12. 12. Where To Look <ul><li>Charts ( link ) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crowdsourced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sort by type, time period, then most-liked, most-subscribed, most-discussed, top favorited </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mosts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Top” Creators/Partners ( link ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sort by most-viewed or most-subscribed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Trends </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search ( link ) demo, time, compare </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Specific Video </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Find any video, select “show video statistics” </li></ul></ul>See Also “ YouTube Trends ” Blog and VidStatsX
  13. 13. What a Partner Sees About Own Videos
  14. 14. <ul><li>Wave 1: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Syndicated research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wave 2: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Detailed analysis of 100 of the most-viewed comedy videos according to a variety of criteria, styles, types. (by Kevin Nalty). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assess top 100 based on all trackable data to determine patterns (by Kiddsock). </li></ul></ul>Methodology <ul><li>Wave 3: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Similar methodology on 50 most- favorited videos of all time, adding additional data like demographics (by Alexis). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wave 4: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Review top 20 most-favorited videos based on Humor Columnist Eric Decker’s “Humor Types” (Farce, Dark, Screwball, Slapstick, Parody, Satire) ( source ) (by Will Reese) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wave 5: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Validation & refinement </li></ul></ul>went out of my way to thank Alexis, Kiddsock and Will... even though they’ll never know it.
  15. 15. Preliminary Findings <ul><li>About 75% of the most-viewed comedy videos are amateur, with only about 25% being SNL clips or television clips that are ripped. </li></ul><ul><li>Videos were tracked based on such criteria as Juxtaposition, Surprise, Superiority & Release. </li></ul><ul><li>Videos were assessed on humor type and additional criteria: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a) a cute child, b) music parody, c) dancing, d) animal, e) sexual references. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dance/music didn’t triumph, but “cute” and “sexual” were obvious leaders. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. More Preliminary Findings <ul><li>Only about 32% are or include “real” moments (a baby laughing, a cat doing something funny, a prank, or a sports fail). Surprisingly, the rest are scripted or produced. </li></ul><ul><li>Most videos to be based on “superiority” (a satire of a celebrity, group of people or victim), and many are based on the “release” theory, like the sexually nuanced SNL skits. </li></ul><ul><li>The minority of videos use incongruity (juxtaposing cats with captions ala LOLCats, or Poddy Training (75 million views), which combines a popular song with a baby cartoon. </li></ul>
  17. 17. But Was I Right? Secondary Review of Videos (Most Favorited) Revealed too Many Subjective Variables... Here’s where I vlogged (as seen at the end of this video ) to show how they might interpret my “stage whisper” about the audience being boring. Was it self deprecating (I’m clueless that you can hear me) or superiority (I’m better than audience)?
  18. 18. Favorited Videos by Type
  19. 19. <ul><li>People may “favorite” darker comedy subjects versus liking or sharing </li></ul><ul><li>Certain types of comedy even in visual space may stand test of time (slapstick and stooges) while others are “moment in time” (SNL Parodies) </li></ul><ul><li>Slapstick, parody, and satire may be more popular for viral video as they can often be delivered in shorter more punchy formats </li></ul>Findings
  20. 20. Transformative Roll of Off-Camera Laughter of Off-Camera Laughter Image meant to be linked to video, but otherwise search “blood” on YouTube
  21. 21. Rooftop Comedy & AdWeek , “Humor, Marketing, and the Internet,” May 2010  Pew, The State of Online Video , June 2010  DDB, Humor, Marketing, and the Internet , 2010 Comedy is the most popular, viral content online 2 #1 online and #1 mobile Replacing traditional sources for news / info Comedy is #1 in Video Viewership % of online adults who watch each video type
  22. 22. Why is Comedy Most-Viewed & Shared <ul><li>“ Amongst small groups of guys, sharing funny videos is really just reaffirming personal connections when they've not got much to say to each other -- it's a way of just reaffirming shared values around something relatively low stakes (i.e. &quot;we like the same thing&quot; around &quot;funny&quot; is lower stakes than &quot;we like the same thing... politically.....&quot;) </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing videos is a low-stakes social lubricant -- not dissimilar to people making relatively bland 'funny comments' as an ice-breaker in real life -- and while people *do* share 'sincere' and / or 'cute' content, people share comedy more because it's low-stakes / potential high reward... </li></ul><ul><li>You get social props for Facebooking the funny video your friends haven’t seen yet, but if people don’t like it, it's easy to ignore and you've not revealed something over personal about yourself. </li></ul>Anonymous Google Guru
  23. 23. Remaining Questions <ul><li>Is there a method to create more objective (less subjective) rating of video’s primary and secondary comedic device? </li></ul><ul><li>Can other preference data be mined from additional quantifiable data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(likes/dislikes), time, other classifications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Can we turn YouTube into a life experiment? I’m willing. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Discussion [email_address] www.willvideoforfood .com ts