Opening the Gates and Letting the Laughs Out

Last week’s premiere episode of “The Silent Comedy Watch Party” was a success, so it seems I was right about going ahead with doing the stream. I was also wrong about something. Luckily that was easily correctable, and it was something I should’ve seen coming.

I spend most of the evening following the show on March 22 and most of the following evening reading and responding to comments from people who’d watched the show. Comments on Facebook and on Twitter, and in emails. I emailed a thank-you to every person who sent in a donation or signed up on Patreon, and I heard back from some of them as well.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much the show would mean to everybody. I was moved, floored, by hearing from so many people who said that the show brought much-needed laughs and relief during the current COVID-19 crisis. I was figuring the show would serve in some way as a replacement for going to the movies to a silent film program. I’m so used to assembling show parts and making the show happen or helping make a show happen, that my mindset carried right on over to the Silent Comedy Watch Party.

I think it’s possible that you and anyone else who watched the show may not have anticipated having a more visceral reaction than you usually have going to see a silent film.

Hank Mann
Hank Mann and Vernon Dent in An Eye For Figures (1920), one of the films shown during both the pilot and premiere episode. Hank has a lot more fans now.

What I was wrong about was my original idea of having the show be a live-stream-only show. That it would be “appointment television”, with the emphasis on the live experience aspect of a silent film show being quasi-replicated with the streaming show. It made sense, mostly, on March 15th when we did the proof-of-concept “pilot” show. Art House Cinemas were still open, and I still had a few shows still set to happen.

Within 48 hours of the pilot, those shows were gone, states were telling their citizens to stay home, work from home, school from home. There was no place to go to if you wanted to see a silent film show, and probably wouldn’t be for some time. This is what my wife reminded me, that taking the show down – marking it “private” and therefore unviewable to anyone – was the wrong way to go, because people needed to see these slapstick comedies and have a few dozen or more laughs.

I was able to quickly get the OK on including one of the shorts that Steve Massa and I programmed that had come from an archive who I’d told that the film would just go out the one time, and not sit on YouTube. It was a quick “yes” and quick couple of clicks to change the video’s status back to public.

If you missed episode #01, you can view it here.

Episode #02 will stream on Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 3:00pm EDT, and Steve and I will have another trio of great rare slapstick comedies for you. Steve will introduce, and I will play.

Thanks for watching, and thanks for helping to spread the laughs by posting links around the internet.

This is the stream for episode #02. It is, as of now anyway. 😉 Hover your cursor over the screen and select “Watch Later”, or just go to YouTube and subscribe to my channel.

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