Observations & Predictions at the Intersection of Comedy & Podcasting

I’m Ned Kenney, the Co-Founder & CEO of Laughable. We just launched our iOS app, which makes it easier than ever to discover the funniest podcasts from around the world. You can download it for free here. And if you want to learn more about Laughable — including our vision to build a global marketplace for comedy — please go here.

Having been up to my bloodshot, caffeine-addled eyeballs in all things comedy and podcasting over the last year and change, I wanted to share some observations and predictions about these two spaces.


Observations

  • Just like traditional radio, podcasting’s early years will be remembered for relatively raw one- and two-person shows. Longform interviews are a staple of the podcasting genre. At their best, these interviews explore deep and uncharted dimensions of a person or topic, sometimes over several transfixing hours. However, not all podcasts are home runs, and many are way too long. Many podcasters would be well served to spend more time in post-production, editing out boring segments.
  • Comedians have long invested considerable resources building personal websites that include contact info, biographical information, tour dates, YouTube clips, etc. Very few of these sites are mobile-optimized; some won’t load on a smartphone at all. This reflects a trend across the digital world: websites are dying on mobile. Which means they’re dying in general, because mobile now IS the internet. There are a few reasons for the decline of websites. The superiority of native iOS and Android apps for more immersive content consumption experiences is one. Another, even bigger one is that…
  • …these days, it’s ALL about social media. Comedians absolutely SLAY social media. Touring comics focus mainly on Twitter and Instagram. Good examples: check out Kevin Hart on Instagram and Sarah Silverman on Twitter. Younger, up-and-coming comics are all over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Snapchat is killing it these days, too, but the ephemeral nature of its content doesn’t lend itself to things like tour dates, which limits the platform’s utility for comics.

#WhatNowTour #comedicrockstarshit #Dopepic #Hawaii

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on

Kevin Hart, so hot right now.
  • The word ‘blog’ is lame and has never done justice to the transformative power of what blogging is, fundamentally: digitally self-published self-expression. Similarly, the word ‘podcast’ sells its own medium woefully short. This is BROADCASTING, baby. On-demand audio for the modern world. Can someone think of a better name than ‘podcast’, puhlease?

Predictions

  • Apple introduced podcasts to iTunes in 2005. Growth in listenership remained tepid for many years before it began to accelerate in 2013. Growth will continue accelerating for the next several years. In the U.S., around 57 million people have listened to a podcast in the past 30 days. Within 5 years, that number will surpass 100 million.
Sample: U.S. Population 12+; Source: Edison Research / Triton Digital (The Infinite Dial 2009–2016)
President Obama stopped by Marc Maron’s garage to tape an episode of WTF in June of 2015. Photo courtesy of Pete Souza / The White House