Recorded live at the Rivoli in Toronto in 1992.
As the guy who has processed all the submissions to the Canadian Comedy Awards from 2008 to present, I’m fortunate to find myself in a position where I get to view all of the videos that are submitted. This builds the great pride that I have in my peers and my culture on an annual basis.
However, it can sometimes be frustrating when a submitter has not really done everything they can to put their best foot forward, video-wise. So I give to any who might care some pointers for videos that accompany your submissions to the Canadian Comedy Awards.
For the record, I’m publishing these tips independent of the Canadian Comedy Awards. These tip are my best practices. So if you have any issues with what I’ve written here, take it up with me or comment below; don’t waste the time of anyone at the CCA’s.
My hope here is that it becomes easier for jury members and voters to be able to judge the quality of the talent, rather than the quality of the tape.
- We Need To Understand What You’re Saying
It is almost impossible to judge a cacophony of voices echoing in a large room or anything quieter than a stage whisper. Ensure that the people in your video can be heard AND understood. Otherwise, jury members and voters may not have any basis to judge the submission.
- We Need To See Some Faces
It is hard to make out little white blobs at the other end of a performance venue. Ensure that the people in your video are recognizable. Otherwise, jury members and voters may not know who they’re supposed to be judging.
- We Need To Know Who’s Who
If you are submitting to one of the single artist categories (such as Male Improviser or Female Improviser) and everybody in your video is wearing the same kind of outfit, identify which one of the similarly-adorned people you are submitting. For instance, in your video notes, write “[Name of submission] is wearing the red tie.” Otherwise, as above, jury members and voters may not know who they’re supposed to be judging.
- What Everybody Else Does
The majority of submissions to Live categories are delivered as audible video recordings from live performances. We can see the visual elements of the performance and hear the sounds of the performance. Some of them are edited highlights, some of them are a continuous clip.
Most TV and Film submissions submit video of entire episodes or films with their selected in and out points for their jury and voter clips.
Radio submissions submit MP3 files or audio CDs.
Web Clip submissions submit their entire web clip.
If you stray too far from how everyone else has assembled their videos, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. If you submit a montage of shots without audio and set to music, you may have made a nice music video but you’ve probably wasted your submission fee.
- Jury Video & Voter Video
With the exception of the Web Clip category (which shows the full clip), you have a maximum of 15 minutes for your Jury Video and 2 minutes for your Voter Video. I have to embolden this because every year, many submitters screw the pooch on this.
If you go over the maximum amount of time for your clips, your clips shall be chopped off at 15 and 2, and no one will hear that punchline at 15:05 or see that hilarious sight gag at 2:03. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.
Jury clips have a maximum of 15 minutes running time but do not have a minimum running time. So you do not need to scrounge together a full 15 minutes if you only have an exemplary 10 minutes, or an exemplary 5 minutes… or 7 minutes. Fifteen is only the maximum.
Edited videos are allowed. You can make a highlight reel from multiple performances, suffice that they all occurred within the respective awards year. So choose your most exemplary content. Use clips that feature your submission. Do not use clips in which the first appearance of the artist you’re submitting is five minutes into the clip.
- E. I. Y.
The Canadian Comedy Awards does not edit video for you. You cannot specify multiple in and out points in your submitted video and expect CCA staff to patch those together. If you want to use multiple clips to build your jury or voting videos, you need to get these clips edited yourself before submitting them. Otherwise, you’ll get a phone call or email and you’ll have to pick which one of your in and out points you want to use, and the rest of them will be ignored.
- Direct Messages & Commentary
Do not directly address jury members or voters in your videos, in overlaid text, voice or image. In other words, do not insert “VOTE FOR ME!” messages into your videos. Any additional production to your videos that directly addresses jury members or voters will be cut out of your video and, in the most extreme cases, your submission will be disqualified.
Do not insert commentary into your video. Any commentary in your videos will be cut out of your videos and, in the most extreme cases, your submission will be disqualified.
- Aspect Ratio
All jury members and voters view videos in a 4:3 aspect ratio. If the submission video(s) you send are already in 4:3, no change to the image will occur. If the submission video(s) you send are in 16:9 or any other ratio, they will be letterboxed at the top and bottom to fit a 4:3 ratio.
If you’ve made an aspect ratio error in your post-production process and you have a stretched or crunched image in your submission video(s), it will not be corrected. What you send is what gets viewed by jury members and voters.
- Your DVD
Please ensure that your submission DVD is not set to auto-play AND chapter menus are not removed.
There was once a huge mix-up because a DVD that was submitted was set to auto-play and the menus had been removed and the submitter failed to indicate that there was more than one chapter on the DVD. The result was that the jury in that category was viewing a video that barely contained the artist for whom it was submitted. Fortunately, this particular mistake was corrected before the jury process ended but it could have easily been prevented by the submitter by NOT setting to auto-play and NOT removing chapter menus.
- Just The Facts
To avoid confusion in the processing of your submission, do not put video content on your DVD that has nothing to do with your submission. Your submitted materials should not require a goose hunt to process them. If your submission DVD has your submission videos plus some other stuff you’ve done, MAKE A NEW DVD THAT DOESN’T HAVE THE OTHER STUFF. TV episodes and films are the exception here since they are typically submitted in their entirety.
- Multiple Submissions per DVD
You can put more than one submission’s clips on the same DVD, as long as you list all the submissions’ tracking numbers on the DVD. For example, if you are submitting a film that has 1 submission each in the Film Directing and Film Writing categories, 2 submissions in the Male Film Performance category and 3 submissions in the Female Film Performance category, send the one DVD and label it with the tracking numbers for all 7 submissions.
To anyone who ever wonders what’s the point of the Internet …
Pete Hill is a friend of mine on Facebook, and real life too. On December 6th, Pete posted a link in his Facebook status to a video on YouTube called “We Got That B-Roll”. It had already received 5000 views at the time I watched it (one week after it had been posted).
I enjoyed the video and thought it would be a great to screen for a live audience at Pirate Video Cabaret on December 17th in Toronto. So I tracked down the director in L.A. and emailed him for his approval. He confirmed with the creative team that I could screen it and sent me a high-quality version with end credits added. And bam, I had 2 more minutes of hilarious video content to deliver to the audience on the 17th.
I predicted it would hit 100,000 views by today. I just checked, it’s at 125,219. I love being mildly accurate about something.
There’s 2 lessons here :
1. The Internet eliminates geographical barriers and provides a clearer picture of a population by its trends.
2. Your friends are the people that you listen to.
Please mind the subtext.
- I will not attend your event because you have given me no indication of what your event actually is. You have used a title for your event that contains no keywords. It is so cool that it no longer has any meaning. Furthermore, you have advertised ten to fifteen acts in your event. However, I recognized none of them; though 3 of them are certainly of Irish heritage. You have provided absolutely no points of reference for me to generate any expectations whatsoever. You should be congratulated for so deftly positioning your event within the ever-so-subtle realm of… Obscurity! (Exclamation mark added for increased irony.)
- I will not attend your event because of your text. Let me clarify. Every piece of text in your marketing is uppercase. All the text in your email or Facebook message, it’s all uppercase. I am really glad you did this. If it had been title case or even sentence case (you know, grammatically correct and all that), I would not have even noticed you existed. However, you used the wrong font and I just can’t support this Helvetica bullshit you’re pitching me.
- I will not attend your event because I received your email promoting your upcoming event. However, here’s the thing : I’ve already unsubscribed from your mailing list many times… You don’t know this because, upon deeper inspection, I noticed that you’ve got a faulty unsubscribe function on your spamvertising-ridden website. If I were you, I would think this “error” grants me some kind of plausible deniability should anyone ever have the spare time to royally kick me in my slack ass. If you actually contributed to culture as much as you leech off of it, I would still not attend your events, for there would yet be more talent within a diarrhea-stained foot stool that is missing 1 leg.
- I will not attend your event because you used the word “awesome” in the marketing of your event. 9/11 was awesome. Five minutes of an hour-long George Carlin routine is awesome. Those are two extremes of awesome that I have witnessed. Unless you’ve literally reinvented a wheel and it’s functional, your event simply does not track on that scale.
- I will not attend your event because I do not live in Buffalo and your Whitesnake cover band (so cleverly called Coverdale) offers me no incentive to visit Buffalo.
- I will not attend your event because your event takes place in a sports bar. Sports bars are not known for their taste in cultural programming. Actually, that’s not true. They’re very well known for their taste in cultural programming. Thank you for choosing a venue that says so much about your event.
- I will not attend your event because I do not pay to watch a rehearsal… Oh, that wasn’t a rehearsal last time?… Oh… Really?… Hmph.
- I will not attend your event because you chose to have the William Tell Overture auto-play when your web page loaded without providing me the ability to mute Rossini’s popular but obnoxious composition. I believe this needs no further explanation.
- I will not attend your event because you have indicated nothing original about your event. Nobody could point a finger at your event and say, “There. See? Like that.” Except me, just now, but I am merely demonstrating. Given the choice of attending your event or the equally sans originale event the next night or the identically carente de originalidad event the night after that, I have opted to write these words. While they might leave the reader with a bitter aftertaste, they do not even approach the magnitude of stale dyspepsia that you have chosen to generate in an unwitting and undeserving audience.
- I will not attend your event because… it’s me, okay? I’m the asshole. Right? I’m full of shit. I gotta open my big fat mouth and spew this acid at you. I’m a dragon. I’m an fuckin’ acid-spewing dragon. With my attitude and my opinions. It’s me. This is me: “Blah blah blah. I’m a fuckin’ dick with my big fuckin’ mouth.” You’re right! You’re absolutely right! I’M A FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!… Y’know what?… Just keep sending me invites. Just piss me off even more, send me all your goddam’ invites… Fuck. Me.
Kevin Matviw wrote a note on Facebook today in which he offered critical advice to anyone hosting or producing a comedy show. Others agreed with the substance of his note with “likes” or comments of their own.
While I truly appreciate that there are people who would prefer to judge comedy by its level of artistic quality rather than its lack of production values, there was something about this method of communication that didn’t sit well with me. To the audience to whom these criticisms are most directed (unskilled comedy producers), they could easily come across as whiny and bitchy. As I saw it, the only substance missing was real world action.
My comment on the note:
Simon Fraser at 3:31pm June 5
I invite you all to take on finding the worst of the worst within your criteria of what makes a good comedy show or producer. Introduce yourself to them. Explain to them where your passions lie. Ask them if you could work with them to hone their production skills. If they agree, you only have to guide them once and they will have learned from your guidance.
Then have a shower. And if you’re still unsatisfied, do it again with the 2nd worst of the worst.
If you have a problem, YOU have a problem. YOU should do something about it. Writing your complaints here doesn’t do anything but create a record of your complaint. SFW? The comedy shows or producers you perceive as poor quality are not gonna have a revelation reading this here if they don’t already have revelations in the real world.
If you really want to strengthen this community, then create community.