Tom Walma

Neverending Open Mic Web Site

Business, Web Site/App, TV ShowTom WalmaComment

The idea is to have a streaming video channel that runs live 24-hours a day, 7 days a week showing ordinary people doing standup comedy in front of their webcams at home.  Also, a subset (around 100 max) of the people watching the streaming video would use their microphones to be broadcast (audio-only) on the streaming video channel as audience. 

A never-ending open mic sounds like a nightmare if you were required to watch bad comics for hours at a time,.  But it would be good to watch for short periods of time, such as when on the toilet, during commercials on television, etc.  And it would be a great resource for aspiring comics, especially those who live in rural locations.  Also, maybe professional comics would find it useful to test their material in front of small crowds who aren't expecting them.

Signing up would be open and free.  Maybe some "guest spots" or preferential treatment of good comics would be used, but there would be a guarantee of at least half of the time being comics from an open, equal signup process.  Also, maybe those who watch the channel more or broadcast themselves as audience more would be able to jump up the queue to perform.

The web site would need people to fill the following (paid) roles 24 hours a day:

1. MC:  The MC would introduce the comics and encourage applause and such, just like a normal MC.  They would have the power to cut off the comics (i.e. transfer the audio and video stream from the comic back to themselves) in case the comic was super racist or trying to show their dick, or in case of technical difficulties.  The MC would also need to fill time in the case where nobody signs up.  So they would need to have at least an hour of material plus the ability to improvise to fill a lot of time.  The MC would also read short commercials to pay for the web site.  The web site would never completely cut the video to a commercial, they would always show either the MC or a comic.  Banner ads would also generate revenue for the site.  They would also only show ads (even banner ads) when the MC is talking, never when a comic is performing.

2. Bouncers:  The people watching the comedy show on their phones or computers at home (aka the audience) would be encouraged to turn on their microphones so you can hear when they laugh.  Also, the comics waiting to perform would be required to watch with their microphones on for an hour or so before they perform.  The bouncer(s) (1 to 4 people) would see a computer screen with 20 to 50 volume graphs each showing the volume an individual audience member is making on their microphone.  They would be able to listen to the combined volume or to isolate a single audience member.  That way if somebody is heckling on their microphone, or if there's too much background noise from somebody's house, they can mute/disonnect that user from the broadcast audio.

3. Screener:  This person would communicate with the comics before they perform, answering their questions, making sure their video and audio connection is sufficient, queueing them up and providing information about the comics to the MC so that the MC can introduce the comics.

The idea is to have one streaming channel for the entire world (maybe adding more if it becomes successful).  The channel would be in English.  So you could have 4 locations around the world where the MC would broadcast from, and have 4 6-hour work shifts.  So you could have England, East Coast US, West Coast US, and Australia.

You could also broadcast from real-life open mics.  And if the real-life open mic has a small audience, you can connect the audience from the web site to the stereo system and make it sound as if the audience at home was in the real-life audience.

I'm not sure it's technically possible, specifically merging 100 microphones into one common "audience" audio signal.  But with Twitch and Periscope and such, it seems like streaming video technology has improved a lot recently, possibly making this feasible.