With everyone struck at home thanks to the lockdown, it seems that every comedian in the country is planning their own virtual tour on Zoom. But performing to a virtual room isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily, there’s more to live streaming comedy than a virtual performance. We spoke to a couple of comedians about their live streaming efforts, and the basic tips that anyone should know before they hit that button to go live.
Samay Raina is quite certain he will never perform stand-up comedy via a Zoom call, but he’s enjoying the opportunity to experiment with other formats on live streams. “It’s the easiest transition from being a stand-up comedian to live streamer,” he says. “As stand up comedians we’re already used to being on our feet, we know how jokes are written, which can translate well on a live stream. I do all kinds of other stuff live, except comedy.”
Including playing chess which, we have to say, we didn’t see coming.
Why did Raina decide to disrupt the world of PUBG live streaming with something that’s a lot less adrenaline-pumping? “There was a line Biswa said on a podcast that has always stayed with me, ‘If anything is happening with you, tere ko lagta hain ki tujhe garam paani peene mein mazza aata hain, toh you are never special. There are 1000 people like you.’ If we love playing chess, if we love streaming chess, humaare jaise aur bhi honge.”
Never pander to an audience; if you love doing something, there will be many others who love it too. And the proof’s in the pudding! Raina’s videos have racked up thousands of views and even featured Indian chess grandmaster, Vishwanathan Anand.
While Raina uses the Google-owned streaming platform, YouTube to broadcast his chess championships, Sorabh Pant (pictured above) tells us he uses three different platforms – YouTube, Facebook and Instagram – to go live. “Currently these are the three I’m using and all three with different results and different purposes,” he explains. “From the Lives that I do on Facebook, I also record a video separately for me to release on YouTube and Instagram. So it’s about pivoting on all platforms,” Pant says.
However, if you’re a live stream novice, start small. Here are six top tips to ease into this world of green screens and brutally honest user feedback:
Patience is a virtue. If you’re new to something, you can’t expect people to pay, Raina states. “I feel like you have to start with a mass platform, like YouTube, where everyone can see you for free and decide whether they like you or not.” If they decide they do like you, you can roll out paid memberships for your subscribers (from a fixed monthly sum) which gives them access to special content. “For instance, in my membership,” Raina says, “I can play chess with members only. It’s like jab Uber aayi thi toh voh sab ko free rides de rahi thi so that you get accustomed to Uber and realise how much you like Uber and how much you need it in your life.
For your first live, Raina highly recommends asking for help. “Thoda sa mushkil hain, I’ll be completely honest, first time set up karna. Yeh sab thoda boomer log ke liye difficult hain. I can never imagine my father setting it up on his own.” He also suggests that you do a test stream and have your friends give you feedback.
If you’re casting your phone to play a game on streaming, make sure it’s set to Do Not Disturb Mode. Be responsible and careful with what you’re showing on your phone. Also, make sure you look after your equipment, since it’s going to be difficult to buy replacements (nay, impossible).
Pant believes that it’s extremely important to figure out what you’re aiming to do before you do it. He shares “I made the mistake of just announcing one without doing one initially. I just used to go Live on YouTube for three-four days. I went Live every morning on YouTube at 9 ’o’clock for about 9 days. The first two I was just like ‘Eh, whatever’ but when I started focusing it on something, that’s when people started tuning in.”
Make sure your audio is good. “I think video people are still okay with but try and make sure your audio at least sounds tolerable,” Pant cautions.
Do not get too affected by negativity and hate on your live stream.
This article was first published in DeadAnt, an online publication and new-media venture focused on stand-up comedy in India.