Live comedy line-up on Twitter

Written by Angela Hunter - Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The first ever comedy night on Twitter is billed as a landmark in live entertainment. The question of how Twitcom will work – and indeed, if it will work – is all part of the attraction.
Word spreading about the 8 June event is gathering speed, and Twitter Comedy Club already has thousands of followers, partly thanks to a mention from the daddy of all tweeters, Stephen Fry, who said the project sounded “larky”.

If nothing else, Twitcom looks set to redefine the role of the stand-up comedian, as performers are more likely to be sitting down at their PC or even, if they prefer, perched phone in hand on a bar stool.

The originator of this innovative idea is comedian Tiernan Douieb, who realised that his Twitter following made up a much larger potential audience than he was able to attract to some of his gigs. “I was doing a poorly attended gig and complained about it in my Twitter updates,” explained Douieb. “Some of my followers pointed out that I had a bigger audience online, so I should do a gig for them. It seemed like a fun idea. I got in touch with all the comics I knew who were frequent tweeters and generally they all seemed keen. No one was really sure how it would work – and we still aren’t 100% – but most comics do comedy because they enjoy it and fun new avenues for gigs are always welcomed. It'll also probably be the biggest crowd some of us have ever played to. Current figures are around 5,000, which is bigger than the Hammersmith Apollo!

The lack of certainty as to whether it will be all right on the night adds a particular edge to the event’s entertainment value, according to comedian Mitch Benn. “Both the best and worst thing about Twitcom is the fact it's not been tried before and it might not work,” said Benn, a comedy circuit veteran and regular writer and performer for BBC radio.
Benn’s speciality is comic songs – so has he figured out a way to convey his unique style in Tweet form? “I think so,” he said. “It’s going to require a temporary artistic compromise, but it ought to work. I’m not going to do anything to be ashamed of; it’s just I’m going to have to bend my own rules a little.” Online entertainment certainly seems like the ideal medium for the credit crunch.

Global recession has made staying in the new going out. Comedy at the click of a mouse is a cheap and convenient option, and laughter is a great pick-me-up when times are tough. There are some plus points for the performers as well. Tapping your witty comments out on a keyboard has to be less scary than appearing in front of a half-cut, hard-to-please horde at your average pub theatre or fringe venue. The event may be lacking in the usual atmosphere and instant audience response in the form of laughter and applause, but there will be feedback of sorts.
Twitter followers will be able to comment, show their appreciation, or even heckle the performers, who have the option of ignoring or responding to their input. All this has to be done in the form of Tweets – bites of 140 characters or less. “We have no real way of judging who our crowd are, which could prove difficult, and still haven’t figured out how to deal with the potential hundreds of heckles we might get,” admitted Douieb.

The evening’s entertainment incorporates a strong and varied line-up – though there is a noticeable absence of women. “I asked lots of female comedians, but due to various commitments, none of them were able to take part,” said Douieb. “There are lots and lots of very, very funny women out there and I was sad we couldn't get any of them on our bill. If all goes well, maybe we can get them onboard for another one.”

It sounds like there could be more Twitter comedy nights on the cards. So far everyone is taking part unpaid and the organisers are open to the idea of sponsorship in future. “We'll see how the first one goes,” said Douieb. “Lots of other acts are interested in taking part, so hopefully we'll see a follow-up soon.” Rob Heeney is among the performers who seem confident that the event will take off in a big way.

Twitcom is a great idea and a fantastic opportunity to showcase our funny stories to thousands of people,” said Heeney. “I’m sure there will be many Twitcom nights. If you ask me, it will even outlive Twitter.

Twitcom kicks off at 8pm (BST) on Monday 8 June.
The line-up for Twitter's first ever comedy night is:
Tiernan Douieb (compere) Matt Kirshen, Terry Saunders, Carl Donnelly, Mitch Benn, Gary Delaney, Rob Heeney, Pappy's Fun Club, Mark Watson, Further information about the event can be found at and on Twitter @tweetcomedyclub.


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