Since everyone’s a little YouTube crazy lately, it’s only natural that festival organizers would try and see if some of this new media would translate live for an audience. Though I didn’t catch the whole event, from what I saw it seems that, for the most part, this stuff is best kept on the web…
The event was hosted by Judson Laipply, whose “Evolution of Dance” video, while not funny, is rather amazing to witness. He gave an explanation of viral videos that traced the idea back to the 70s to trading cassettes that made me think of Mr. Show’s “Underground Tape Railroad” sketch (which, in what seems like a very meta joke, you can watch on YouTube).
First up was the Numa Numa’s Gary Brolsma. The guy who “singlehandedly justified the existence of webcams” took the stage with Vegas-appropriate scantily clad backup dancers which gave me a big laugh. And then… well, it was him lip syncing the song. There was none of the fist pumping, unselfconscious dance moves that made the original fun to watch. Numa Numa’s one of those things that work in that contained, surprise way online and then, that’s it, there’s nothing else. Gary seems like a good guy though, so if you think you got the stuff, check out his $45,000 contest on the New Numa site to create a new video from another version of the song. There’s nothing wrong with riding something out as far as it takes you.
Then we saw a martial arts demo from EMCMonkeys - which fits into Viral Videos but with a strained connection with comedy. They’re responsible for the clip Urban Ninja, which is impressive demonstration of acrobatics - jumping across buildings and what not. Sadly, the constraints of the stage (or insurance?) meant that any high-flying stuff was out. Another reason why web stuff works best on the web - the lack of rules. What you could see in the ballroom was pretty good - the last part having the two performers so drained from combat that their last blows lead them to fall to the floor back-to-back in exhausted. Not funny, but definitely impressive.
The Charlie Todd from Improv Everywhere showed up to demonstrate some of his pranks. This part of the show worked because it used the web videos themselves, with Todd providing narration. The good stuff included the 2003 No Pants Subway Ride and Slo-Mo Home Depot. Then he showed a prank he pulled with frequent conspirator Chris Kula while in Vegas at the Caesar’s hotel which involved playing poker in one of the swimming pools completed with dealer, cocktail waitress and many wayward floating cards.
I had to run at that point to catch another arguably web-based phenomenon Dane Cook and Tourgasm. From what I was told I did miss one of the better performers, Mike O’Connell and Dr. Ken - check out their work at College Humor if it hasn’t been sent to your inbox already.