On YouTube channels, comedians shift the punchline

Associated Press
This undated image released by Smart Girls at the Party shows Meredith Walker, left, Amy Poehler and director David Karabinas on the set of "Smart Girls at the Party," the flagship show for the YouTube channel, and founded by Amy Poehler. “Smart Girls at the Party”  is one of the latest channels to launch on YouTube with funding from the Google video-sharing site. (AP Photo/Smart Girls at the Party, Ben Porter)
.

View photo

This undated image released by Smart Girls at the Party shows Meredith Walker, left, Amy Poehler and director David Karabinas on the set of "Smart Girls at the Party," the flagship show for the YouTube channel, and founded by Amy Poehler. “Smart Girls at the Party” is one of the latest channels to launch on YouTube with funding from the Google video-sharing site. (AP Photo/Smart Girls at the Party, Ben Porter)

NEW YORK (AP) — On the debut episode of "Smart Girls at the Party," Amy Poehler sits in a dark studio and solemnly introduces her first guest as a "singer, actor, dancer, musician, feminist, entrepreneur and skateboarder."

Sitting across from Poehler is a 7-year-old named Ruby, who cheerfully displays a just-completed drawing.

Charlie Rose, eat your heart out.

This summer, while much of the TV world is in reruns, a number of comedians have taken to YouTube, including Poehler, Rainn Wilson, Walter Latham and, in a new role, Shaquille O'Neal.

"Smart Girls at the Party" is the flagship show for Poehler's YouTube channel of the same name, part of an ambitious initiative from Google's video-sharing site to plant a crop of niche-oriented channels from show business veterans. The rollout has continued through the year, gradually premiering more than half of the nearly 100 channels that YouTube has poured $100 million into, while pledging to spend another $200 million on marketing.

Comedy is only one of the many genres among the new channels (they range from the gaming hotbed Machinima to The Wall Street Journal), but it's perhaps the most viral-ready: Production value isn't needed to send a funny clip sailing through social media.

Smart Girls at the Party, which has some 7,500 subscribers thus far and has generated more than 400,000 views, is geared toward adolescent girls and young teens with the stated aim to "celebrate individuals who are changing the world by being themselves."

"We wanted to celebrate the non-celebrity," says Poehler. "We wanted to embrace and highlight the cool period in any boy or girl's life where they're just so full of possibility and ideas and passion."

The channel includes shows like "Ask Amy," a weekly check-in where Poehler answers questions from viewers. In one episode, Poehler, who's currently shooting a film directed by David Wain ahead of the next season of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," waxes about managing stress while sitting in a bathtub.

In "Meow Meow Music," Poehler's friend Amy Miles hosts a mini version of a Pee-wee Herman-style variety show. Every episode of "Smart Girls" ends with a dance party.

"YouTube and Google and the Internet in general is filled with so much — I don't know — garbage humiliation stuff," says Poehler, who has two young boys. "We're trying to do stuff that's not focused on people falling down. Although — don't get me wrong — I love people falling down, especially when monkeys fall out of trees. That's my favorite part of the Internet."

Wilson, who plays Dwight on "The Office," also has hopes to shift the online dialogue. His channel is an outgrowth of an earlier SoulPancake website and book, both of which grapple with philosophy and spirituality in a casual way.

"We want to engage users creatively, uplift the conversation, dig into life's big questions and kind of make thinking and feeling cool and fun and irreverent at the same time," says Wilson.

Wilson, a member of the Baha'i faith, hosts the channel's "Metaphysical Milkshake," in which he interviews people in the back of his custom van. He became preoccupied with readying the van for the channel: "I've been spending all this time on eBay and Craigslist looking for bubble windows."

Other shows include "Live a Little," about atypical high schoolers; "Subcultures," about niche communities; and "Art Attack," where artists create something from a suggested "spark." Wilson is particularly enthusiastic about a pilot called "Last Days," featuring interviews of people with terminal illnesses. (He promises it's uplifting.)

Wilson realizes it can be jarring for audiences to see someone who many simply regard as Dwight Schrute discussing such subjects, but SoulPancake has helped Wilson unite his professional life and his spiritual life and mix the profound with the silly. The channel has more than 25,000 subscribers.

"You can ask someone about their toenail polish and then you can also ask them about what they think happens to you when you die," he says. "It just doesn't really happen on television, but that's doesn't mean it's not possible."

As the creator and producer of the popular and lucrative "Original Kings of Comedy" tour, Latham has been a trailblazer before, founding the black comedy franchise that featured Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac, Cedric "The Entertainer" and D. L. Hughley. As a promoter of comedians and a TV and film producer, Latham likes to call himself "the King of Comedy."

"It's the future, man," Latham says of the YouTube channels. "Especially for my career as long I've been in stand-up, always looking for the next Bernie Mac or the next Steve Harvey. They don't have shows anymore like they used to on television to find talent. So YouTube is a really good platform for me to introduce new comedians to a new audience. And the audience will tell me if they like them."

Walter Latham Comedy, which has nearly 9,000 subscribers, draws a considerable chunk of its audience from archived video of some of those comedians, particularly Bernie Mac, who died in 2008. The lineup of original programming includes shows hosted by comedians Hughley, Miss P and Michael Blackson. But its signature show, "Comedy After Dark," includes a variety of scantily-clad women including Jenna Jameson.

Latham has found that length of videos has a direct effect on their popularity, having watched classic, nine-minute-long material from Bernie Mac get less response than a lesser joke of two-minutes. "Just get to the joke," is the lesson, Latham says, and it doesn't hurt if the thumbnail representing the video is of one of the attractive female hosts.

The producer realizes the strategy opens him up to criticism.

"I know that in order to grow and not become a dinosaur, you have to do and try different things," he says. "That may not be the only new thing that I try, but I had to try something."

The new additions add to the growing comedy presence on YouTube's digital dial, including My Damn Channel, the comedy series website that streams a live show daily; the Onion, a video offshoot of the satirical news site; Above Average Network, a Web series outlet from Lorne Michaels' production company; and Official Comedy, which features series from Bedrocket Media Ventures.

All of the new channels receive coaching from YouTube on optimizing programming schedules and attracting subscribers.

"We really strive to share best practice and at the same time, stay out of the way of the creative process," says Alex Carloss, global head of original programming for YouTube. Carloss says YouTube is pleased at the progress so far, noting that almost 20 channels are past 100,000 subscribers.

Latham told his Internet-savvy 14-year-old son that he wants to be the first black channel to get a billion views. His son was doubtful: "Dad, the only way you'll get a billion views is if a spaceship landed on Earth with a billion black people in it."

Said Latham: "Well, I disagree."

___

Contact AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • The internet roasts a photo of Donald Trump writing his inauguration speech

      When times get tough, at least you can still meme. President-elect Donald Trump is slated to deliver his inauguration address on Friday, so he teased his Twitter followers with a little behind-the-scenes photo of himself writing a speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. SEE ALSO: Don's Johns: Port-a-potties get censored for Trump’s inauguration Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday. #Inauguration pic.twitter.com/S701FdTCQu — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2017 The staged photo and Trump's cold, dead gaze sent the internet straight into "meme mode alpha," where it was pointed out that Trump was actually holding Sharpie marker, which may or may not actually be closed. @realDonaldTrump that is a blank piece of paper and you're holding a closed sharpie pic.twitter.com/ekCcH8eTXe — Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) January 18, 2017 @cajunmonkey439 @realDonaldTrump It is *obviously* a sharpie. pic.twitter.com/gdD2AUhBKX — Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) January 18, 2017 .@realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/8CSroNshBR — XpeK (@peKofX) January 18, 2017 Surprised that you didn't just use this photo as your epic, bigly speech pic.twitter.com/SezwzToFg4 — Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) January 18, 2017 good job @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/Ioj869Tfy3 — uhhh (@_uhhhhhhh) January 18, 2017 pic.twitter.com/pAKcXAEAkD — Sam Grittner (@SamGrittner) January 18, 2017 @realDonaldTrump #NotMyPresident #TheResistance #conflict #Putin #Inauguration In house security cam Mar a Lago pic.twitter.com/diwnpjAS3F — Beo Bachter (@kaysintBB) January 18, 2017 Early draft of Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. #TrumpSpeech #MyFirstWordsAsPresident #MAGA pic.twitter.com/qgo1glv5cG — Tom ❄️ (@TommieWho) January 18, 2017 Exclusive sneak peek at Trump's inauguration speech! pic.twitter.com/6W6ex0Ks3z — Kara Calavera (@KaraCalavera) January 18, 2017 Trump's Inaugural address leaked... pic.twitter.com/J8soJQ4Ira — Jordan Uhl (@JordanUhl) January 18, 2017 Exclusive: #Trump's Inauguration speech leaked! #TrumpInaugural #trumpgrammar pic.twitter.com/XzrXXpnjxD — Gerry Stergiopoulos (@GerryGreek) January 18, 2017 According to CNN, Trump did write his inauguration speech himself. BONUS: NBD, just a massive alligator out for a stroll

      Mashable
    • Foreclosed mall once valued at $190M is auctioned for $100

      TARENTUM, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania mall that was foreclosed on after its owners failed to repay $143 million has been auctioned off for $100.

      Associated Press
    • Ex-president George H.W. Bush moved to intensive care; wife hospitalized

      Bush, who at 92 is the nation's oldest living ex-president, has been at Houston Methodist Hospital since Saturday after experiencing shortness of breath, family spokesman Jim McGrath said on Wednesday. Since then, Bush experienced an "acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia" and was sedated for the unspecified procedure, his office said.

      Reuters
    • Giant Florida Gator Is Not For Tourists, Nature Preserve Staff Warn

      Officials for the county's natural resources division said, although, they appreciate the attention the nature reserve has been getting, they are also worried about the safety of visitors and wildlife.

      International Business Times
    • Virginia man convicted of 2006 slaying of family is executed

      JARRATT, Va. (AP) — A man convicted of killing a family of four, slashing their throats and setting their home ablaze after they left their front door open while preparing for a New Year's Day party in 2006, was executed Wednesday.

      Associated Press
    • Search Suspended for Dad and 3-Year-Old Son Swept Out to Sea as Wife Looked On

      Authorities had spent 22 hours searching for them by air.

      Inside Edition
    • North Korea's Kim Jong Un Is So Fat He Might Have Hurt His Ankle Again

      Kim's leg injuries have been linked to obesity in the past and recent pictures show the Korean leader appears to have put on extra weight. 

      International Business Times
    • Hall of Famer Willie McCovey pardoned by Obama

      SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey has been pardoned by President Barack Obama on tax evasion charges from 1995.

      Associated Press
    • Is your diet changing your gut bacteria? (7 photos)

      Did you know you have trillions of bacteria living inside your body right now? And that’s not a bad thing. These bacteria form the microbiome and when functioning well, these little microbes protect you from harmful invaders, help build your immune system, and play a role in vitamin and short chain fatty acid synthesis.  Imbalances in the intestinal microbiome has been linked to the potential for autoimmune disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, cardiovascular disease and even obesity and metabolic syndrome . Research is constantly ongoing and emerging in this field. An interesting fact is that your microbiome is completely different and unique when compared to another individual’s. We are colonized when we are born by the microbes in our environment, then furthermore when we’re exposed to breastmilk or formula, and when we begin to eat solid foods.  Once theory suggests that with the emergence of agriculture, animal husbandry, sanitation, and antibiotics, our microbiome has transformed into one that more easily allows the growth of pathogenic bacteria, resulting in allergies, autoimmune disorders, and irritable bowel disease.  The proposition is that depending upon our environment and what we eat, certain harmful or beneficial bacteria are promoted to grow in the body. To test the effects of diet and environment on gut bacteria, Fillipo et al.  conducted a small study in 2010 comparing the fecal microbiota of European children to the fecal microbiota of children from a rural African village.  The European children. who lived in urban areas in Florence, Italy, had been breastfed for a year and consumed a diet that was high in animal protein, fat, starch, sugar, and low in fibre.  The African children, who lived in rural Boulpon in Burkina Faso, were breastfed for up to two years and consumed a diet low in animal protein and fat, and high in starch, plants and fibre. Their food came from nearby villages and specifically included millet, sorghum, black-eye peas, and vegetables. During the rainy season, these children sometimes consumed small amounts of chicken or termites. The researchers found that the African children had a greater proportion of short chain fatty acid producing bacteria (which are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties) and greater microbial diversity when compared to the European children. The African children also had lower proportions of harmful, diarrhea causing  Shigella  and  Escherichia  bacteria than the European children. Although the study mentioned above is small and research in this area is ongoing, it is widely known that a diet low in processed sugars and high in fibre and plants is associated with lower cholesterol, improved cardiovascular health, improved blood sugar control, decreased inflammation, and decreased risk of certain cancers.  Why not make peace with your body and the microbiome in your gut and try out some of my signature plant-powered meals and snacks below.  For more creative, delicious, healthy, recipes and expert nutrition information, stay connected with me at RADNUT , Twitter , Facebook , and Instagram !

      Robin Arora-Desilet, Yahoo Health & Nutrition Blogger
    • J.K. Rowling has a cutting response to Trump's quote about 'heroes'

      LONDON — It's surely only a matter of time before Donald Trump goes on a wild, 5am Twitter rant about J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter author has been aiming a steady campaign of social media-based ribbing at the President-elect for a while now — and in the last week her volume of Trump-based burns have really peaked. SEE ALSO: J.K. Rowling just burned Donald Trump for the 2nd time in 24 hours This one started when journalist Daniel Dale shared an extract from Michael Gove's recent interview with Trump. The question was one about heroes. Trump was asked if he has any heroes. Answer: https://t.co/3idRsQFQoN pic.twitter.com/yGyjx1q1Bl — Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 16, 2017 That's a lot of rambling to pick apart, but — luckily — J.K. Rowling was on hand to condense it into a helpful 140 characters: "Heroes? Me, because I am innately awesome and you can't learn this, but a bit my dad, who must've been kinda ok, cos he made me." https://t.co/WYJQ8chAxd — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 17, 2017 Ouch. Throughout the morning, Rowling has continued tweeting about Trump. @jk_rowling it is a sad life when one does not have heroes. — zeckle3 (@zeckle3) January 17, 2017  https://t.co/5z1V1TsYBm — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 17, 2017 Almost everyone in Europe dreads the Trump presidency. Everyone, except fascists - @alexmassie in @politicohttps://t.co/EzhdXUkNj4 — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 17, 2017 @jk_rowling @alexmassie @politico What if you’re neither dreading Trumps presidency or a fascist? — Luke Parker (@MrLParker) January 17, 2017 Then I want some of what you're smoking. https://t.co/pcXzOf1JZm — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 17, 2017 We're calling it: he's going to tweet something negative about Harry Potter any day now.  It's only a matter of time. BONUS: J.K. Rowling weighs in hard on the Donald Trump/Meryl Streep feud

      Mashable
    • Commentator: Hillary Clinton is the legitimate president

      HuffPo contributor Alex Mohajer argues that a federal judge should intervene because Russian hackers swayed the election and the popular vote makes Hillary Clinton 'The People's President.' Tucker takes him on in a spirited debate #Tucker

      FOX News Videos
    • Undocumented worker sues San Francisco for violating sanctuary law

      The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday on behalf of Pedro Figueroa Zarceno, 32, in federal court in San Francisco against the city and its police chief for violating his right to due process and breaking an ordinance barring municipal employees from cooperating with federal immigration authorities seeking to deport a person. Figueroa walked into a police station in November 2015 to report his car stolen, according to the lawsuit. The civil action comes as San Francisco and dozens of other U.S. cities face pressure from President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Friday, to abandon their policies of limiting cooperation between law enforcement officers and U.S. immigration authorities.

      Reuters
    • One Big Reason Not to Buy Nintendo Switch

      The Nintendo Switch is a pretty versatile gaming machine, but don't count on it replacing your home streaming box anytime soon. According to several reports, Nintendo's $299 portable/home console hybrid won't have any significant entertainment features when it releases on March 3, meaning you'll have to get your Netflix and Hulu fix elsewhere. Business Insider spoke to Nintendo's Kit Ellis, who said that the Switch "won't have many multimedia features at launch." While this doesn't rule out the possibility of popular streaming apps coming to the platform later this year, it seems like you'll be strictly playing games on the Switch on release date (and besides the stunning new Zelda title, there aren't many notable launch games).

      Tech Media Network (Tom's Guide)
    • Cowboys delay talk of Romo's future, likely knowing answer

      FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Those closest to Tony Romo on the Cowboys aren't ready to discuss the future of the Dallas quarterback, probably because they know the likely final answer.

      Associated Press
    • Teen Abducted 18 Years Ago Says She Will Have '2 Moms,' but Still Loves Accused Kidnapper

      She says she speaks to the accused kidnapper every day despite the woman's arrest for abducting her 18 years ago.

      Inside Edition
    • Anger at skeletal sun bears in Indonesian zoo

      Animal rights activists Wednesday demanded the closure of an Indonesian zoo after skeletal sun bears were pictured begging for food from visitors and eating their own dung. The bears at the zoo in the city of Bandung were shown waving their arms in the air inside their enclosure -- with their ribs visible through their fur -- as people hurled food at them. Many of Indonesia's zoos are poorly maintained and there are regular reports of animals dying in captivity.

      AFP
    • Teen Abducted 18 Years Ago Doesn't Want to See Alleged Kidnapper Jailed: 'She Will Always Be Mom'

      'I understand what she did was wrong but just don't lock her up and throw away the key like everything she did was awful,' Kamiyah Mobley said.

      Inside Edition
    • Deadly waves sweep father, son out to ocean, show dangers

      SALEM, Ore. (AP) — One moment, Jayson Thomas was on the Oregon beach with his 3-year-old son. The next, they were gone, swept away by a "sneaker wave" as his wife looked on.

      Associated Press
    • Donald Trump Tells Democrats Boycotting His Inauguration: Give Me Your Tickets

      'I don't want the celebrities there. I want the people there,' Trump spouted.

      Inside Edition