The Chris Gethard Show is a difficult one to describe. The live comedy show is performed weekly at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, where Chris Gethard leads a hilarious group of performers through sets which push the boundaries of comedy. That sounds kind of pretentious but, well, it’s true. At a recent show, audience members were encouraged to shoot the actors using paintball guns whenever they felt their performances were not funny. At another show, the audience members were herded onto a bus and taken on a tour of Gethard’s childhood home. Not your typical comedy show, to say the least.
This past year, Gethard set his sights on a seemingly impossible task – convincing Sean “Diddy” Combs to appear on his show. Combining creative use of Twitter and his own sheer will, he made it happen.
Gethard’s next crazy idea was to organize a cross-country comedic trek – 12 comedians traveling together in an RV, their path and their stopping points determined by suggestions from Twitter followers and other social media sources. Fans of the show could follow the trek’s progress on Youtube and Twitter.
This idea, however, required funds in order to rent the RV and feed the performers. Gethard estimated that he needed $7,000 to make the trip happen. But how to raise that money? Enter Kickstarter, a crowd funding website that has been rapidly gaining popularity.
On Kickstarter, a user can create a project, any project, and ask their fans, friends and others to donate toward that project. I first became aware of Kickstarter after a former favorite band of mine (local Boston trio The Sheila Divine) reformed and funded the recording of their new album with a Kickstarter project. I gave them five dollars, for which I’ll receive a free download of their album once it is released. If I’d have donated $500, the band would have recorded a cover song of my choice and given me exclusive ownership of the track (and don’t think that was not sorely tempting).
The Kickstarter project for The Chris Gethard Show also provided various rewards for escalating levels of donation. $20 got you a listing on the thank you page of the show’s website. For $500, the traveling show would visit a destination of your choice and do whatever you wanted. Personally, I threw in five bucks and received nothing back – I’m just looking forward to following the show online.
The Chris Gethard Show was attempting to raise $7,000 – they actually raised almost $12,000. The Sheila Divine was shooting for $5,000 – they raised $13,000. This opportunity for basically unknown performers and artists of all types to raise money equivalent to the intensity of their fans, and value of their as yet unrealized ideas, flat out excites me. I can’t wait to see what someone thinks of next (unless I think of something first!).