Getting it on(line)

Jon Petrie of Roughcut Presents offers tips to internet film-makers

Whisper it, but there’s a lot of comedy online that is probably funnier than the stuff on telly. People have been talking about it for years, but it finally seems that we’re getting to the point where the lines are becoming seriously blurred. It’s easier than ever to get access to the necessary equipment and computer experts have made editing software idiot proof (almost).

What’s great about making comedy for the Internet is that people can make whatever they want and no one can interfere. It’s an amazing place to try out ideas; if it’s bad and you receive nothing but abuse in your YouTube comments just click ‘delete’. If it’s great, then you are probably going to start getting pestered by TV companies and advertisers.

The rise of websites such as College Humor and Funny or Die is testament to the fact people are making more stuff. Unfortunately, because so many people are making content, it’s becoming harder to get noticed. My advice for anyone looking to get one of those begging letters from a broadcaster or an advertiser is to make comedy within your means. Keep it simple and be realistic about what you can achieve.

One of Roughcut Presents’ proudest achievements to date is Misery Bear (the world’s most depressed and lonely teddy bear). We think it’s a very good example of how to make something funny on a very small budget. It’s a simple idea and all it involved was a handheld camera and two very funny people (these two are called Worm Hotel).

Another good tip for ensuring what you’re uploading is funny is to ask people who aren’t attached to you or the project to watch it and see if they think it’s funny. When you’ve spent so long filming and editing something you’ll begin to lose sight of where the jokes were in the first place. When fresh faces watch it for the first time, make a note of where they laugh and where they are clearly losing interest. It’s important to be critical of yourself, because if you’re not, everyone else will be…

Love them or hate them (probably the latter), advertisers and broadcasters are currently the only people who can actually pay you some decent money for all the hours spent creating your little masterpieces. We set up Roughcut Presents in August 2009 with the goal of unearthing the funniest talent on the internet and offering them the expertise of a production company to deliver something brands and broadcasters will love, without damaging the creators’ original funny ideas. If you’re one of those people who think you have created brilliant comedy but need a bit of extra help and advice, you can submit work to us at

Your creation could have the same success as Misery Bear, commissioned for a series of short films by BBC Comedy Extra and now one of the most successful strands on the site.

Published: 29 Mar 2010

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