When you turn on your TV tonight and gather around your computers, tablets and phones for that second-screen social-media experience of laughing along with the Emmys with your “friends,” you’ll find that many of them aren’t offering their live commentary tonight on Twitter.
Rather, they’re on another network, as the saying still goes.
In an exclusive deal with WitStream, comedians/actors/writers Michael Ian Black, Alex Baze, Jenny Mollen Biggs, Jake Fogelnest, Lauren Ashley Bishop, Rob Kutner, Matt Goldich, Josh Hara, Eli Braden, Rachel Lichtman, Chase Mitchell, Jess Dweck, Doug Abeles, Jensen Karp and Aaron Blitzstein will be typing away for the next several hours — and you’ll only see and enjoy their jokes in real-time if you’re on WitStream.com, the newly updated WitStream app, or TVGuide.com. Their followers — more than 3 million of them on Twitter — will be directed to the alternate locations tonight.
WitStream had a partnership already with TV Guide. Here’s a spot they produced at the beginning of 2013, featuring Abbi Crutchfield.
You won’t find WitStream comedians on TV live tonight, but maybe in the future. At least that’s the game plan, as WitStream founder Lisa Cohen told The Comic’s Comic. “Think NBC and the Olympics…is anyone gonna watch the curling finals? Maybe they would if our wise asses had a live scroll at the bottom,” Cohen said. “Anyway the big idea is that with Internet enabled TVs we’re not far from giving viewers a way to simply elect WS coverage along with whatever show they choose.”
For tonight’s Emmys, Cohen said: “This year, we reached out to writers specifically to line them up ahead of time and syndicate it to TV Guide. So it’s all WitStream content, not available on Twitter anywhere.”
The Comic’s Comic reached out, in turn, to some of the writers lined up by WitStream and asked them about tonight’s plans.
What’s the gameplan for shifting eyeballs away from Twitter and onto WitStream on Sunday evening? For viewers of the red carpet pre-show on TV Guide Network, it’ll be made a lot easier, certainly.
Michael Ian Black: “The only thing we can do, I think, is be really funny. Hopefully that will get people talking and, thus, feeling horrible and insecure that they missed something incredible happening in some other, better part of the internet. This strategy pretty much defines modern marketing.”
Jake Fogelnest: “People will shift their eyeballs away from Twitter to follow us because we are great at jokes and big important celebrities. People like to hear what big celebrities say about other celebrities. It makes their lives feel more meaningful. The Emmys are very important and they help fill the void of sadness civilians have because they’re not celebrities themselves. We are all doing a selfless act by not attending the ceremonies so we can live-tweet it.”
Do you even need to launch a pre-pre-show offensive online to get comedy fans to watch TV Guide instead of E! for that?
Black: “Anything we can do to get people interested is helpful. We even ran the numbers on a pre-pre-PRE show offensive, but it turns out the physics don’t work.”
Fogelnest: “Anyone who takes the “second screen experience” seriously will be watching TV Guide and not E! Can you imagine the shame of being at work the next day, and all your friends are discussing what their “second screen experience” was like for the Emmys and you’re the only one that wasn’t tuned into WitStream and TV Guide? You’d basically be announcing to the world, “Hey I am a sociopath and you should stay away from me.”
Since we’ve now become accustomed to live-Tweeting instead of live-blogging and whatever old people did before that (talk amongst themselves or to their imaginary friends), and now everyone has a joke the second they see something awry on TV, does that change your strategy when typing your joke to make sure it breaks through for maximum effect?
Black: “What are you going to do? I mean, if people are funnier than us, that’s great. They should do it for a living. We want people to be funny. We want people to think creatively, to be inspired. But talking to the TV didn’t start with Mystery Science Theater 3000. They just did it better than anybody else. We’re the same at Witstream.”
Fogelnest: “I try to tweet from my personal point of view. I’m also watching and enjoying everyone else’s jokes and there just always seems to be a natural flow to things. Sometimes people will tweet similar thoughts, but that’s to be expected. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. I think that speaks to the uniqueness of everyone’s voices during one of these things. For me personally, I always subscribe to the “third thought” rule. Whatever the first joke you think of, that’s probably not great. The second one is a little better. The third one is good. The quicker you can get to that third thought, the better!”
Aaron Blitzstein: “I don’t believe any comedy writer involved in Witstream’s Emmy coverage is at risk of writing a joke that the average person would think of the second they see it play out on TV.”***
What do you think of the new Bravo series that’s going to show people watching TV?
Fogelnest: “What the fuck are you talking about?”
Blitzstein: “This sounds like a show that will only air in prisons.”
Black: “I don’t know about this show, but I can’t imagine watching a show about people watching television. Although I just referenced Mystery Science Theater 3000, so I guess I’m the asshole now.”
For the Pacific and Mountain time zone residents, how thrilled are you that the Emmys will be telecast live there, too? And what’s it like to be part of this WitStream/Twitter universe when anything else happens on a tape delay?
Black: “Nothing thrills me like multiple time zones all doing the same thing at the same time. This is why I was such a huge fan of Hands Across America.”
Fogelnest: “As a fairly recent transplant to the West Coast, I have immensely enjoyed the benefit of things being three hours earlier. For big TV events, I think they should unify the timezones. It makes our world so much more connected in an era that’s dominated by DVR time-shifting. When they killed the East Coast feed of AMC a few months ago, I had to stop going on Twitter for hours because people were tweeting “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” stuff. I find people are usually good about spoilers, but I don’t even want to read ANYTHING about those shows! For something like the Emmys, which is really about us gathering together to worship celebrities in perfect harmony, it’s great that we’ll all be watching at the same time. It’s exactly what John Lennon had in mind when he wrote “Imagine.””
Blitzstein: “I am very excited to watch the telecast live. I’m also excited that we still use the terms “Pacific and Mountain time” as they did in the bible.”
Does that get the thinking cap rolling into a ball, which then gets the ball rolling on any other thoughts you may have about tonight?
Blitzstein: “”I have waited my whole life to get married, have a child and write jokes for Witstream’s coverage of the 2013 Emmys. After failing miserably at the first two I can almost guarantee I’ll be struck by a bus sometime Saturday night. Thank you.”
Fogelnest: “Seriously, what is this new Bravo show?”
Here’s another WitStream TVGuide.com ad from earlier this year, featuring Mr. Dave Hill:
***Blitzstein: “Also, is it possible to add a footnote to this quote explaining this statement does not include Eli Braden? Okay, thanks.”