BBC Three launches new Top Ten Comedy Kit
Executive Product Manager
Budding comedy writers have a new outlet for their latest creations, with the launch of Comedy Kit in partnership with BBC Three. Jon Howard, Executive Product Manager - BBC Digital Creativity, explains more about the project's aims and ambitions.
BBC Three’s brand new short-form series sees British comedians using a Top Ten format to cut loose on their chosen topics. Subjects range from interview tips and conspiracy theories to embarrassing moments and best things about leaving school. The first episode features Holly Walsh giving us her 'Top 10 reasons to swipe left'. After each show, viewers are invited to suggest their comic additions to the topic. The creativity is visualised via the Top Ten Comedy Kit - an easy-to-use online tool that allows responses to be created in a visual form which can then be shared with the world.
The Top Ten Comedy Kit is an extension of the award-winning BBC Digital Maker Kits - a system that has already produced game makers for Doctor Who, Children in Need and Technobabble; music visual creators for BBC Introducing and Ten Pieces; and storytelling tools for EastEnders and Blue Peter.
When I designed and pitched the Digital Maker Kit idea, it was inspired by the proliferation of powerful processors in people's pockets - allowing web pages to run sophisticated software that could work across many devices. The idea was to develop a component based system that could be configured to deliver creativity tools. This served the dual purposes of allowing quick creation of tools and enabling fixes and updates to be easily rolled out across the suite.
As this latest kit is all about top tens, here are my ‘Top Ten reasons why we've made the Top Ten Comedy Kit’:
1. We're all funny, we're all creative
Surely not a single one of us can go for a week without cracking a joke (on becoming a father, my comic output increased dramatically - unfortunately, the quality decreased in direct correlation). Creativity comes from the application of experience and knowledge - spotting a connection between two or more subjects, giving us new ideas, interesting contexts and funny lines. As Steve Jobs said "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something."
2. Audience Interaction
The social nature of the contemporary 'youth' experience online has set a pattern of users being directly involved with the content. Through SnapChat, Instagram, et al - users creatively contribute to conversations around fandoms, hot topics and viral memes. BBC Three engages directly with this same digitally-native social youth audience - Top Ten Comedy Kit will be a valuable addition to the available touch points.
3. Creativity at the speed of thought
The drag-and-drop simplicity and speed-of-use of the Comedy Kit mean that very little effort has to be expended by the user in understanding how to use the tool. 99% of effort can be committed to the creative process - coming up with comically genius lines and making visuals that deliver the sketch in an effective way.
4. The Technology Platform
The online home of the Top Ten Comedy Kit is the BBC's Mixital platform. It offers, to users, a suite of online tools that allow digital creativity output to be saved and published and for users to be social around their creations. Aimed at young adults, Mixital can easily be adapted for any online creativity and allows brand activities that can target closer connections with viewers and users.
5. Connecting with social media
Each 'sketch' produced by the Comedy Kit can be published to its own page on Mixital. This shareable page has comments, can be liked and for those who feel that the content needs a tweak - each can be remixed. The kits also output animated gifs that can be shared through many other social platforms.
6. Finding talent
The BBC is always passionate about finding, nurturing and celebrating talent from across all aspects of British culture. In the comedy space, BBC Three has been running BBC Comedy Classroom, a UK-wide competition to inspire school children to get writing comedy. Top Ten Comedy Kit is another outlet where budding comedy writers can surface their talent and be seen by producers and commissioners at the BBC. Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three, says: “We’re changing our relationship with fans by engaging them with our content and making them creators. I hope the Top Tens inspire people to create their own content and we can discover new comedy talent from across the UK.”
7. ‘Hyperspeed Feedback’
There is research that shows in recent years that the thing most young people are proud of is their imagination. This growth comes from what has been termed 'hyperspeed feedback'. Creators make and publish their work and immediately, through social mediums, that work is liked or loved or not. This process helps the creators to understand what works and what doesn't - and these lessons are learnt very quicky, iterating to becoming competent and confident producers in much shorter time frames than previous generations.
8. ‘Weapons of Mass Construction’
There are many fantastic creative tools available to the fingertips of the world: from Super Mario Maker and Minecraft to Instagram and Snapchat to the devices in our hands that easily allow each of us to become a multimedia producer. The common theme for each of these tools is that they have abstracted technical complexities of the creative process, giving users experiences that have a very low barrier to entry. Encouraging consumers to become creators isn't just a worthy goal - a nation of creative minds can really help to boost UK PLC. It is the ease of first use that allows audiences to have a taster of that creative sphere, and if inspired they will go on to learn more in depth and apply that knowledge.
9. Opening up the BBC
The Mixital platform has given our audiences the tools to get creative with some of the BBC's biggest brands. It gives them the chance for the first time to create their own content based on the shows they love. The BBC has been home to entertainment and news in the UK for over 90 years. As the digital revolution matures, it becomes more apparent that audiences demand greater access to their most loved shows. By engaging in creative activities and spending more time with the show, there grows a mutual benefit - the show becomes more loved and the creative work propagates it to a wider audiences
10. Practise, Practise, Practise
Working with the Top Ten Comedy Kit, users will be able to experiment with and practise their comic craft. Whether it is with simply structured jokes, quick-fire memes or much more meaty sketch based scenes. There is an audience of peers ready to help with feedback and suggestions – and to help celebrate and promote content that reaches the ‘I’ve got to share this’ threshold.
A new BBC Three Top Ten will be available every Thursday from 11am and viewers will be able to add their own suggestions based on the topic from then.