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For nearly 30 years, The Laugh Factory was the venue for comedians to get noticed. Now its online site - laughfactory.com - launched 2 ½ years ago as a place to see some acts, is getting revamped and will allow anyone to upload their funny skits, Jamie Masada, The Laugh Factory’s founder and impresario told me at the AlwaysOn OnHollywood conference this week. It will be launched in about 45 days to two months, Jamie said.
Essentially, The Laugh Factory is getting hip, and it appears it will be giving Funny Or Die a run for its money.
After all, Jamie has had an amazing track record of getting the best comedians on his stage for three decades. Richard Pryor was the first comedian to be on stage back in 1979. Since then, The Laugh Factory has hosted Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, Jon Lovitz, Dave Chappelle and Dane Cook. “I have them all,” he said. (Watch my interview with Jon Lovitz at OnHollywood.)
"Everyone credits Carson with creating the careers of every famous comic you can think of, but he wouldn't have even looked at any of them if Jamie hadn't booked them at his club first," said Drew Curtis, founder of Fark, one of the funniest sites online.
Just as he did with my question about how much he pays his comedians, Jamie did a good job avoiding my question about whether he thought he’d compete with Funny Or Die. “No competing,” Jamie said with his Israeli/Iranian accent. “People can go everywhere to laugh,” he said.
But it’s pretty obvious that The Laugh Factory will be another online venue for would-be comics to showcase their acts, especially if it gives them a chance to perform on a legendary stage.
Of course, Funny or Die has already gained some traction having been created and founded in 2006 by actor and comedian Will Ferrell, director Adam McKay, comedy writer Chris Henchy, and aspiring comedian Michael Kvamme, who according to Funny or Die’s site, came up with the online concept. Additionally, the company just got an investment from HBO. According to NYTimes.com, it's HBO’s first partnership with an Internet video site and is less than $10 million. As part of the deal, Funny or Die will produce 10 half-hour shows. No details of the economic relationship were revealed.
Now, at the end of the day both HBO and being on stage at The Laugh Factory are great incentives for would-be comedians. To the extent that their online sites are just feeders for other venues, then maybe there’s no urgent reason for both sides to get nervous.
Jamie doesn’t seem to be worried, and he’s probably right. “It doesn’t make me nervous,” he said. Just like television never took away from Broadway and stage acts, he thinks people will still like the up close and personal feeling about his clubs.
He hopes people will go online and find funny gugys and say to themselves: “Next time, I can go real life and see what it’s about.”
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