YouTube launches first Comedy Week

Applause is still welcome as top comedians include Sarah Silverman, David Mitchell and Vince Vaughn perform live for an online audience

YouTube has always been a haven for the “hilarious”. Cats playing keyboards and clips of huge boogers being pulled from small noses (well worth a search, although not while you’re eating) have been at the heart of the site since its launch in 2005.

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But this week, YouTube has turned its hand to live comedy with its first festival, imaginatively titled YouTube Comedy Week. 

Each night, until the 25th May, YouTube will be turning its back on videos of dancing horses and giggling gorillas in the hope of drawing viewers’ attention to live comedy. The real stuff. Not two minutes worth of one-liners from your neighbour in his pants. No, these are proper comedians spreading the mirth to an audience they hope is there and doesn’t just have YouTube on in the background while they’re playing Candy Crush.

Comedy giants taking to the YouTube ‘stage’ include Sarah Silverman, David Mitchell and Vince Vaughn. Plus, homegrown stars of YouTube The Gregory Brothers, Rhett & Link and Ryan Higa, who helped kick off last night’s initial two-hour live stream, will take part throughout the week.

There’s no real host, but Silverman and Vaughn pop up to introduce segments, some of which are pre-recorded. The kitten attempting to jump off of a toilet seat is yet to make it in, but we’re hopeful.

Danielle Tiedt, YouTube’s vice president of marketing, said the aim of the online festival is to demonstrate just how popular comedy is on YouTube. Tiedt told USA Today, “A Third of our top 100 channels are comedy.” We like to think we’ve helped. Searching ‘crazy cat videos’ is almost an hourly task.

Tiedt is also said to be keen to move users on from thinking of YouTube as purely a home for user-generated content. Projects such as Ricky Gervais’s own channel have hinted at this. But, whether a few sketches can stop the masses heading to YouTube to watch endless clips of dogs barking at their reflection or office pranks remains to be seen. As the poster admits, this better be funny.

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YouTube’s Comedy Week takes place each night this week at 1am until May 25th. Live shows will be archived at youtube.com/comedyweek