By this point you’ve read a billion think-pieces on crowdfunding. Is it saving art? Is it the worst thing to happen to art? You’ve seen Veronica Mars and Reading Rainbow come back through it. And whether you like it or hate it, there’s no denying that crowdfunding is a major force in the creative world today and it’s going to be a tool that artists of all mediums utilize for the foreseeable future. Here’s the thing: there are so many weird and cool and thought-provoking ideas out there, but somehow the vast majority of the comedy projects out there have been the variations on the same theme: “Help me make my webseries.” “Help me make a short film.”
Hold up. I’m not saying webseries are bad. (Hey! Check out my author blurb at the end of this article to go watch mine!) They’re not. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be done with crowdfunding. So, to highlight some of the amazing stuff that can be done in this medium I’ve selected some really creative projects to inspire you. And, great news! They’re all still active so if you like it, put a ring on it!
Sleepy Hoosband Calendar - From Karin Hammerberg comes this intimate project involving her sleeping husband, a camera, and secrets. Basically she’s been taking photos of him while he’s asleep and then set up this Kickstarter project to make a calendar of said photos… without telling him. It’s a project so personal that if you donate enough money, you can force this couple to have a baby! It’s small, it’s silly and the whole thing is a funny joke that I think perfectly encapsulates what comedians can do with crowdfunding.
An Uncomfortable Conversation About Race - Blending comedy and social commentary, this project from Keisha Zollar and Ian Stroud is something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Basically the plan is this: get a live venue in NYC, hold a roundtable conversation between academics, comedians, and extremists, and then allow the audience to submit anonymous questions to the panel all discussion race in a public, uncomfortable way.
NUTS! The Story of the Goat Testicle Impotence Cure & More! - Okay, so this one actually is a project based around making a film, but it’s not your standard webseries/vanity project like the ones you often see on Kickstarter/my author blurb. This one has the goal of creating a documentary film all about John Brinkley, who found a cure for impotence through goat testicle transplantation. If nothing else, watch the video, because it is a delight.
NoPhone - Half social commentary/half actual thing, the NoPhone is here to help you with your very real smart phone addiction by providing you with a phone-sized block of plastic to carry around in your hand and act as a surrogate for your actual smartphone. This is one of those comedic ideas that come around every once in a while that serves as both a funny idea and a thought-provoking work that makes you reflect on your own life. And it’s not way too big like the new iPhone!
Are you inspired yet? Ready to make your own dumb thing you’ve had kicking around in the back of your head? (If yes, go to next paragraph. If no, keep reading.) There’s a whole world of crazy projects out there! Like Nicolas Cage tea-towels, a gummy bear candle that burns down to reveal a creepy gummy bear skeleton, and green plastic army men in yoga poses! And if that’s not enough, Taylor Moore, a comedian and curator at Kickstarter pushed for a specific tag to highlight and recognize these projects. “[Kickstarter] has decided that it’s time to feature and support comedians the same way it’s supported writers and filmmakers and game designers. Not only that, but the comedians who’ve answered the call are doing so much more than the usual web series. They’re really experimenting and playing with the conceptions of comedy…” So get out there and start making your live performance of John Cage’s 4’33” with multiple performers a reality!
Ramsey Ess is a freelance writer for television, podcaster and a guy on Twitter. His webseries “Ramsey Has a Time Machine” has a very self-explanatory title.