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THE WEB, ETC. | WEB SCOUT

It's a new platform for comedy

For aspiring performers, Internet video sites are the new club circuit. Are the big guns next?

March 18, 2007|Richard Rushfield | Times Staff Writer

After playing the Broadband Theater at the comedy festival, the group was granted a prime spot in the festival's late-night lounge, traditionally a sort of "Best of the Festival" forum, where the members scored a major offline hit with an impromptu bit in which they questioned the tastes and interests of the owners of the condo they were renting, displaying on stage as visual aids the artwork from the condo's walls, pictures of the elderly couple and their family, and eventually the armchairs and draperies from the bedrooms.

J.P. Buck, the comedy festival producer who puts together the Broadband Theater, said in a post-show conversation that the 'Net is now becoming the great hunting ground for the next generation of comic stars. Since last year's festival, he reports, "It has really exploded, and you can't get your arms around it anymore. It's become part of the job to cover all the sites." And although he says that, "95% of what I see is not ready for us to showcase," he also wondered if putting access to the comedy stage in the hands of the public is going to mean that comics will begin their development at ever earlier ages.

Whereas previous generations would start hitting open mikes perhaps during college years, there is a group of Orange County kids whose video Buck has been watching since they were in elementary school. "In the next generation, you'll see high school talent shows that are almost beyond anything we've known before," he said. Perhaps thanks to the Web, comedy will go the way of Olympic gymnastics or figure skating -- if you're world class by the time you're 12, you'll have missed the boat.

richard.rushfield@latimes.com

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