By: Severina Chu
With the tastes, stars and expectations on YouTube constantly evolving, comedy content creators are looking to assert their place on the platform. At this year’s Buffer Festival, 21 comedy content creators gathered at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on Sept. 29 to premiere their new projects. They discussed how the comedy genre on YouTube has evolved over the years, where it stands now, and some advice they have for creators looking to start a channel.
“Sketch comedy on YouTube has had a very interesting journey. It started out very lo-fi, then people want these super cinematic videos,” said YouTuber Thomas Ridgewell. This new cinematic take on comedy has been rising in popularity in the past few years, with creators like Canadian Elle Mills becoming known for their stylistic editing and high production value.
However, Ridgewell credited the return of demand for lo-fi videos to platforms like Vine.
“We got this wonderful revival of much more affordable comedy, which is so refreshing,” said Ridgewell.
With YouTube comedy becoming more versatile, many are looking to start channels of their own. The creators at the screening offered their advice to those starting out.
“I think the key is surrounding yourself with other funny people,” said Julie Nolke when asked about how to create consistently funny content. “You’ll have an idea that kind of works and the minute you share it with someone, you can riff off each other. I think that makes for some of the best scripts.”
A problem that many comedy creators have faced is censorship as a result of YouTube’s strict content guidelines. Failure to follow these guidelines have caused many creators to get their videos demonetized from advertising revenue, be it from the use of crude language or sensitive subject matter. For several creators, this has resulted in the need for self-censorship in exchange for their livelihood. Especially for creators who have been able to get partnerships with studios and production companies outside of YouTube, censorship has become increasingly necessary in order to maintain an advertiser-friendly image.
“I find that the more work you get on the outside, the more you end up censoring your YouTube channel and social media,” said Laura Bubble about working with external studios. “I think, unfortunately, if you want to work professionally, there is a little bit of a compromise.”
However, Elliott Morgan of the light-hearted pop culture news channel, SourceFed, argued that creators can use censorship to their advantage too.
“In general, I don’t think we typically view censorship as anything other than something that can make things funnier rather than something we necessarily need to run from,” he said.
When asked about how to reach out to audiences, the creators agreed that staying true to yourself was the best way to gain success.
“Do what you want to do and do what you think is funny, and I feel like the audience will find you,” said Lee Newton, also of SourceFed. “In a world of negativity, it’s a breath of fresh air. I think it’s so needed.”