Twitter's Hashtag-Powered Comedy Festival Sounds Confusing

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The entertainment industry's looking pretty experimental these days, with the announcement of a new five-day-long comedy festival on Twitter. Yes, there is a hashtag involved. Starting on Monday, you'll start to see some familiar handles making jokes with the descriptively named hashtag #ComedyFest. Comedians will use Vine to upload six-second videos, and there will be one live event on Monday night. Everyone from Judd Apatow to Mel Brooks, who will both appear on Monday night, is on board with Twitter's lastest attempt to look like a media company. With Comedy Central as a partner and a whole separate algorithmic comedy app in the mix, the whole situation sounds a little dizzying.

It could be amazing. The so-called #ComedyFest sounds a lot like what comedians do on Twitter on a daily basis, but with the hashtag, it's going to be a lot more focused and organized, right? Well, hashtags aren't exactly the most organized organizing principle in the world. As anyone who's ever followed a really popular hashtag will tell you, sometimes the information simply flows through the stream to quickly to be consumed. In recent months, there's been renewed criticism over whether or not the convention is useful at all since its as prone to noise as it is to order. But it sounds like networks are okay with making you do a little work to find the content you want. 

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Take the upcoming Comedy Central app, CC:Stand-Up. Almost described as an Amazon for comedy by The New York Times, the new app uses recommedation algorithms to help you curate a selection of your favorite comedians. A Comedy Central executive told The Times's Amy Chozick that the network would soon "be ambivalent about where people watch Comedy Central." And since you can't really watch TV on Twitter — Twitter is the "second screen" people tend to talk about when talking about "second screen experiences" — you get to watch some hybrid creation of Comedy Central's special programming and Twitter's regularly scheduled programming to create this strange five-day occasion that a lot of people probably won't even notice.

But once again, it could work. If Comedy Central's trying to create algorithmic stand-up (of sorts) and Twitter's trying to be a TV network (if only for a few days), then clearly folks in the entertainment industry are open-minded. Now, let's see if they can be funny, too.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.