Tom Walma

TV Show

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.

Superstore Endurance Challenge

TV ShowTom WalmaComment

I always thought it would be fun to live in a superstore, like a Walmart, which contains food, clothing, sporting goods, toys, etc. 

The idea is for a reality TV show where 10 people are locked into a fully stocked superstore.  Nobody can enter or leave (if they leave they can't come back in), so there are no customers and there are no employees stocking shelves or cleaning up.  Nobody can communicate with the outside world.  They have to live there for a whole year, with a prize for those who make it the whole year (which I will describe later).

It will be interesting to see how people choose to solve problems, such as

  • creating private spaces and beds (since the store wouldn't sell beds)
  • dealing with dwindling resources such as food and water and maybe clean clothes
  • personal hygiene (there are no showers but there is soap and sinks in the bathroom)
  • chores such as cooking, managing trash and rotting food, etc.
  • entertaining themselves in creative ways
  • there could be conflicts introduced to the situation, such as the power getting shut off for a while

Plus, there are the obvious interpersonal issues inherent in any reality show where people live together.

For the prize, I think it should be something like each person gets $50,000 for themselves and also for each other person that makes it to the end.  So if 2 people make it, each of them get $100,000.  But if 10 people make it, each of them would get $500,000.  So there is an incentive to put up with other people to get as many to make it to the end as possible.  However, there won't be enough food for all 10 people to make it to the end, so eventually people might have to try to get other people to quit and quit quickly to have more resources for the remaining people.