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Twitter, Comedy Central team for five-day #ComedyFest

The comedic revolution won't be televised. Instead, it'll come in 140-character bursts and six-second Vine vids.

Hot on the heels of the launch of its new music discovery service, Twitter now plans to push its content chops even further by holding a five-day comedy "festival" in partnership with Viacom's Comedy Central, complete with the abundant use of hashtags.

The festival will be largely an online affair, featuring star comics such as Carl Reiner, Amy Schumer, and director Paul Feig. The participants will deliver 140-character one-liners and six-second Vine videos using the hashtag #ComedyFest starting Monday, April 29, a Viacom representative told TechHive.

While most of the guffaws will happen on Twitter, a panel discussion will be live streamed from the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. That event, taking place April 29, features Reiner, director Judd Apatow, and comedian and filmmaker Mel Brooks, according to The New York Times, which first reported on #ComedyFest.

Comedy haven

The idea of a Twitter-based comedy festival as unusual as it sounds when you consider that many comedians already use Twitter to share jokes and keep in touch with their fan base. Twitter is also a social darling for big media companies looking to include so-called second screen experiences with their programming. Many TV shows, for example, will advertise a hashtag during broadcasts allowing viewers to share comments about their favorite moments online.

Twitter is also working to cultivate the impression that the social network plays an important role in media events, such as popular season finales and newsworthy happenings such as the presidential debates.

"We used to have a filtered, one-way view of events in the world from the media," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in an interview with NPR's Marketplace last October. "Now with Twitter, people want to know what everyone else thinks and we're getting this...multiperspective view...from everybody else that's watching the same thing we're watching."

Twitter may want to be known as a big player in packaged media, but there's no denying the social network also plays an important role to access fast-moving, unfiltered news events in real time. That capacity was on display most recently during the pursuit of Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev last week.

More to come

Next week's online comedy festival may be only the first of many mediacentric events from Viacom and Twitter.

Last Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Twitter is in talks with NBC and Viacom to host ad-supported TV clips on Twitter. Then on Friday, BBC America announced it will partner with Twitter to provide "in-Tweet branded video." Presumably this means you will be able to watch videos from BBC America inside your tweet stream using the social network's media cards functionality. ESPN did something similar late last year, partnering with Ford so users could watch instant replays from NCAA college football games without ever leaving Twitter.

Starting next Monday, however, the #ComedyFest hashtag may quickly grow from a series of jokes delivered by well-known comedians to a never-ending stream of self-styled comics looking to make a big splash of their own. Some users are already using the #ComedyFest hashtag to crack funnies.

It will be interesting to see what happens when #ComedyFest begins in earnest, given the event's hashtag-based organization. While hashtags make it easy to search for content on Twitter, the format can quickly be taken over by spammers, fans, and media outlets. Searching for #ComedyFest on Twitter right now, for example, shows you a stream of links to media reports about the upcoming laugh fest.

Twitter may be able to get around that problem by filtering official #ComedyFest tweets through its "top" search results filter. Then again, part of the beauty of social networking is to let events take on a life of their own, so grassroots #ComedyFest Tweets may just be part of the bigger plan.


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