Standups keep it short and tweet at Twitter Comedy Club

A mad experiment invited Mark Watson and other comedians to fill 10 minutes with as many gags as possible, in 140-character chunks. So how did it work and, more importantly, was it funny?

King of the one-liner ... Mark Watson

The 6,000-strong crowd was excited, the atmosphere febrile and the hecklers poised but the comedians taking part in last night's Twitter Comedy Club (@tweetcomedyclub) would never have known it. They were all sitting comfortably at their computers, waiting for their turn in the first standup gig to be done purely through the medium of Twitter.

Instigated and compered by Tiernan Douieb (@TiernanDouieb), who describes himself as "small, bearded and on the internet", the Twitter Comedy Club was a "mad experiment" which took the tradition of a standup gig and turned it on its head. Acts were given 10 minutes each to deliver as many jokes as they could in 140-character chunks. To attend the gig, all the punters had to do was search for all the tweets appearing with the #tcgig (Twitter comedy gig) hashtag, using their computers or phones.

The lineup was impressive, headlined by Mark Watson (@watsoncomedian) , the "Tigger-ish" presenter of Radio 4's Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better. Support came from sketch troupe Pappy's Fun Club (@PappysFunClub), Mitch Benn (@MitchBenn), Rob Heeney (@robheeney), Carl Donnelly (@CarlDonnelly), Terry Saunders (@TerrySaunders) and Gary Delaney (@GaryDelaney).

It was great to see how the personalities of the acts still shone through with some even attempting singalongs. I particularly enjoyed the one-liners from Mark Watson ("My dad used to say, 'Money: you can't take it with you.' Which led to some pretty boring holidays") and Gary Delaney ("Bit disappointed by Walt Disney On Ice. It's just an old bloke in a freezer").

Pappy's Fun Club seemed to have done more planning than some of the other acts presumably a sensible decision since they were the only group on the bill (read the full transcript in chronological order on their blog). They'd even gone as far as creating a fake heckler, Terry Witter (@TerryWitter), purportedly the founder of Twitter (and friend of Frank Acebook), who sniped at them for being "too entertaining" during their set.

The genius of the idea is that the jokes live on in perpetuity online for everyone to revisit on the comedians' Twitter accounts.

There were teething problems, however. Three acts overstretched themselves and tweeted so many times that they hit the Twitter hourly limit, forcing them to set up emergency Twitter accounts (even online, the show must go on). Many of those following the action used the gig hashtag in their own tweets - causing consternation for the organisers (although @astridnz suggested that this problem could be solved if users were allowed to set up a system of private hashtags).

But there seems to have generally been a very good reception online (especially for @MitchBenn and his Twitter-inspired EP which is now available to download from his website).

Next time, I'd love to see more one-liner artists among the acts Milton Jones would be fantastic but I think the mad experiment was definitely a success. It's another example, as Time magazine recently reported, of the way that Twitter could change the way we live. I just hope the comedians can live without the applause ...


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