ASSESSMENT #2: Describe, Analyse & Reflect
H3h3 Productions is not a typical comedy web series. As no matter how constantly evolving, and ever-changing this contemporary media platform is (Williams 2012, p.16), it doesn’t seem to quite fit the serialised programme structure that most online episodic series – such as Flat 3, Aunty Donna’s 1999 series and Leftovers adhere to. Rather, the husband-and-wife duo that is h3h3 Productions, are taking part in the ‘accelerating trend in which digital platforms are beginning to act as TV networks’ (Ellingsen, Steiner 2014, p.106). In their case, h3h3’s main source of video distribution, their YouTube channel, works as a TV-like network in which each video they present is a different episode, or even show. The ‘freely accessible platform’ (Marx 2011, p.22) that is YouTube, has allowed for countless comedy web series of all sorts and styles, to prosper online and gain a community and fan following. However what allows for a comedy web series to be successful, and cultivate said community types, is not just simply to be online and accessible.
With an audience already online, Williams (2012, p.49-50) urges web content creators to ‘think of ways to continue the show’s experience in ways beyond simply watching videos’. Vape Nation, h3h3’s most successful episode to date, and the entirety of the h3h3 brand presents both a trans-media, and offline experience, which is a value that can be said to separate everyday, video uploaders and professional producers of media. The episode/channels’ character and narrative is carried through multiple digital platforms, through sharing via different online domains and social medias, but also offline through its physical merchandise range, and also, its simple relevance to the real-world. This relevance being its satirical, alternative take/commentary on real-life events and cultures. By reaching out to viewers beyond the video itself, h3h3 have ‘cultivate[d] a community of fans by involving them’ (Williams 2012, p.49). These fans so dedicated now, that they are willing to give financial assistance to the comedy duo, for a current legal dispute.
‘Independent content creators are empowered by the flexibility of digital media’ (Ellingsen, Steiner 2014, p.106), especially those in the web comedy sector, as it is a ‘young industry with few templates and even fewer rules’ (Williams 2012, p.16). This freedom, with the help of free and accessible televisual platforms such as Youtube, has taught me that it doesn’t take a big budget to create a successful comedy web series nor a specific style of type of comedy. This solidified by the success of such aforementioned shows, Flat 3, Leftovers, h3h3 Productions, and numerous other. What all of these shows have in common is not only their self funded, wittily written and creatively produced start ups, but also their ability to create quality online comedy episodes that reach, and are enjoyed by, a significant audience.
This understanding of comedy web series that I know possess from readings, watching, and analysing a show, can be utilised to help myself and others throughout the studio, by focusing on the comedic quality of the show, and how it can be best created, distributed and enjoyed by an audience we aim to reach out to.