Co-Founder of Just for Laughs on the future of comedy

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 2:08 PM

Given that I’m currently in the throes of all things comedic during the 32nd annual Just For Laughs Festival, I was challenged with the question: “What’s the role of YouTube for the next generation of comedians?”

Right now, so many of the current generation of comedians—particularly the stand-ups—are using YouTube effectively and efficiently to drive their live business and overall image. Not only has this rendered the promo DVD or cassette (now I’m showing my age!) extinct, but seriously minimizes the amount of travel for any Festival talent scout. What I used to do in clubs, I can now do at home. And the drinks are cheaper.

But using YouTube exclusively as a promotional tool is like using Google Glass to magnify and read the printed word.

At its best, at its most promising, YouTube is the Garden of Eden; not only for the next generation of comedians, but actually for forming the next generation of comedians.

Right now, comedy is more than killing it on the platform. And what’s working best takes advantage of the YouTube platform:

  • Democracy (anyone can do it)
  • Speed (shoot in the morning, upload in the afternoon)
  • Vast Audience Reach (every niche is huge)
  • Quirkiness (impact over aesthetics)
Pranks and pranksters are huge (including Just For Laughs’ Gags channel, with over 4,000,000 subscribers). So are eccentric people simply talking to their rabid fan base. Most promising is that the low barrier to entry allows infinite experimentation…which will lead to new breeds of humour analogous to the medium (and to its increasing mobile use). Without even trying, YouTube has already spawned a motherlode of unique talent that has built its own infrastructure.

I remember a sobering trip to Los Angeles a couple years back where I discovered the parallel universe being driven by unconventional YouTube-friendly digital comedians, NONE of whom I had ever heard of before. During my meetings in traditional Hollywood—along Santa Monica or Wilshire or Sunset—we talked about “digital comedians,” but they were merely savvy analog acts who had a grasp of digital tools like social media accounts.

Once I ventured “below Highway 10” so to speak, the homeland of pure video plays like Maker Studios, Fullscreen and their ilk, I was exposed to a whole new breed of off-beat creators who didn’t care about the old rules, and considered the intrusion of cameras a friend rather than a foe.

And today, that dividing line is blurring rapidly.
  • Grace Helbig, namesake of YouTube hit Daily Grace, has been anointed one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch, a list that in the past has brought initial attention to the likes of Jenny Slate, Amy Schumer, Lewis Black, Louis C.K., Zach Galifianakis and the aforementioned Patton Oswalt. 
  • The massively popular Epic Rap Battles of History is being featured in full-page ads on the backs of old-school magazines like Entertainment Weekly. 
  • Net content pioneer Chris “Nerdist” Hardwick is now the host of Comedy Central’s mega-hit, “@midnight.”  
  • One of my childhood heroes, Weird Al Yankovic, is using YouTube to launch eight new videos from his new album (they still make those?) over eight days.  
  • And if you think Orange is actually the new black, you should meet The Annoying Orange, a cloying crossover megastar of web, TV and merchandise. 
THIS is where YouTube has its greatest role, opportunity and responsibility for the comedy of tomorrow. In the 1967 book “The Medium is the Massage,” visionary Marshall McLuhan said that “We impose the form of the old on the content of the new”; in other words, our new content takes on the form of that which preceded it (which is why early TV looked like visual radio). Right now, despite its success, it’s not enough for YouTube to be satisfied with server farms filled with filmed live performances, talking heads or sketches that look like old TV or indie films. The role of YouTube is to drive the next generation to do more, to take the next shot, to take risks, and to deftly incorporate the past to drive the future.

That is why, at this year’s Just For Laughs, my number one priority is welcoming the new-breed YouTube comedy stars to the event, and ensuring that they don’t merely meet their more traditional brethren and sistren, but find a way to collaborate with them…and change the humor industry.

And perhaps while doing so, find a nice niche within it for a gutsy, outspoken, ostentatious veteran like me to occupy ;)  

Posted by Andy Nulman , Co-Founder of Just for Laughs Festival, Businessman, Professor

Canadian French and 12 other new languages for Gmail

Monday, July 7, 2014 | 12:01 PM

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As any native speaker knows, each language has its own nuances. In France, I might read mon email on le week-end, but here in Canada, we prefer to read le courriel on la fin de semaine. With Google having an engineering office in Montreal and a Gmail development hub in Kitchener-Waterloo, it was only natural to make sure that both of Canada’s official languages were supported in Gmail.

Starting today, Gmail supports French (Canada) and 12 other new languages: Afrikaans, Armenian, Azerbaijani (Azeri), Chinese (Hong Kong), Galician, Georgian, Khmer, Lao, Mongolian, Nepali, Sinhala, and Zulu. Gmail is already available in 58 languages and we’re now bringing that total to 71—covering 94 percent of the world’s Internet population, because no matter where you’re from, language shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to keeping in touch with the people you care about.


These 13 languages will be rolling out today in Gmail on the web and feature phone browsers, and you can try out any one of them by going to your Settings.

Oh Canada

Friday, June 27, 2014 | 4:09 PM

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As we approach the long weekend and celebrate Canadian pride and patriotism, find some inspiration from our Canadian YouTubers including YoYo Max's Canadian Flag cake, Cute Polish's red and white nail art, and of course a Canadian meat inspired recipe from Epic Meal Time.

If you are heading for the weekend Google Play Music is the only music service in Canada that lets you stream music and store your own collection online. If you are going somewhere with limited mobile data don’t worry -- albums and playlists can be pinned and kept on your phone, tablet or computer so you can listen offline. Create your own playlist, or enjoy some of our great musical talent with this Canadian Music Week Play List, Juno Award Winner Playlist, Canadian Classics Playlist and others.



Have a happy long weekend.

 

Proud to be a Googler

Thursday, June 26, 2014 | 10:47 AM

Joining Google as a ‘Noogler’ I wondered how one voice could have an impact in such a large company. How will I be heard amongst tens of thousands of Googlers with their own ideas and opinions? During my onboarding, I started noticing that something was very different about Google. People were eager to hear your opinions and encouraged collaboration at every step. In just a few short months I made a very important realization. Google’s voice is the voice of its many Googlers.

This year, Toronto World Pride is expected to boast crowds of roughly 2 million. That’s local participants and visitors from all around the world coming together to celebrate diversity in the LGBT world community. When I sent out a note to my fellow Canadian Googlers about doing something special for World Pride, I never imagined I would end up as the marshall of this year’s Google float. Backed by the support of over 100 Googlers, along with their friends and families, we will march the parade route celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and equality.



I’m moved. Moved by the support of fellow Googlers, by the passion of this year’s Google Pride team and by the chorus of voices at Google that said ‘yes, of course we will be there.' And we're not alone. Googlers will be walking in Pride parades in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Dublin, Hamburg, Taipei, London and many more. When the parade begins in Toronto, and we look out to the hundreds of thousands of screaming parade onlookers, I know we will stand with pride knowing that we represent a company that shares the same values of this important event.

Casting for the perfect Father’s Day gift

Friday, June 13, 2014 | 2:05 PM

Socks, tie, golf shirt. You can do better than that.  Google Trends suggest that searches for mother’s day are more popular than father’s day each year, so don’t forget to show dad how much he means to you with a little TLC .. as in “tech, love and care!”


Give Dad all the entertainment he needs with the recently launched Chromecast. Dad can cast his favourite TV shows, music and movies from Google Play, Netflix, YouTube, Songza, Sony Crackle, and Major League Baseball. Whether he’s a grill master who needs to master YouTube’s best BBQ recipes, House of Cards’ #1 fan, or a rockstar dad that wants to jam out to his favourite music on Google Play Music, Chromecast is a one-stop entertainment shop for all types of dads.


Give Dad all the entertainment he needs with the recently launched Chromecast. Dad can cast his favourite TV shows, music and movies from Google Play, Netflix, YouTube, Songza, Sony Crackle, and Major League Baseball. Whether he’s a grill master who needs to master YouTube’s best BBQ recipes, House of Cards’ #1 fan, or a rockstar dad that wants to jam out to his favourite music on Google Play Music, Chromecast is a one-stop entertainment shop for all types of dads.

And now, purchase Chromecast or $39 CAD from Google Play, Best Buy, Future Shop or Amazon and receive a $20 Google Play Gift Card.  



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Helping businesses shine with Google My Business

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 | 3:43 PM

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There’s one thing that lies at the heart of every business: customers. Customers are the reason why businesses flourish, and their shared passion for your craft is what makes running a business so rewarding. For many business owners, customers are more than just patrons – they’re your regulars, your advocates and your friends. In other words, they’re your people

The Internet is connecting more businesses with their people every day. However, our users tell us that finding these loyal customers can be complex and time-consuming. We believe it shouldn’t be. That’s why we are happy to introduce Google My Business – a free and easy way to find and connect with your people wherever you are.


Google My Business brings together all the ways Google can help your business shine in one place:
  • Update your business info on Search, Maps and Google+ from one place to make it easy for customers to get in touch
  • Add beautiful photos of your business and a virtual tour of your business interior to help customers see what makes your business unique
  • Connect directly with your fans and customers by sharing news, events and other important updates from your Google+ page
  • Stay on top of reviews from across the web, and respond to Google reviews
  • Understand how people find and interact with your business using custom insights and integration with AdWords Express 
  • Manage your information on-the-go with the Google My Business Android app and the iOS app (launching soon)


In addition to new businesses getting started with Google My Business, we’re also upgrading current users of Places for Business and the Google+ Dashboard to this new experience.
Businesses with a passion for everything from beautiful hand-made hats and fresh crab cakes, to the best local pale ale, are finding their people with Google.

To learn more about how you can find your people, visit google.ca/mybusiness
Posted by Dan Pritchett & Dennis Troper

You’re changing the world. We want to help.

Monday, June 9, 2014 | 10:58 AM

Today, we are excited to work with TechSoup Global and TechSoup Canada to bring Google for Nonprofits to Canada. Canadian Registered Charities, Canadian Federal Nonprofits, and Canadian Provincial Nonprofits can apply to join the program, which offers access to our suite of free products and tools.

Once your organisation is approved, you can get access to free Google Apps to cut IT costs and operate more efficiently, up to $10,000 a month in advertising on Google AdWords to reach more donors, and premium features for YouTube and our mapping technologies to raise awareness of your cause. We’ve also developed other online resources such as educational videos, case studies and other ways to connect with other nonprofits.


                   

We see the impact every day of nonprofits embracing the web - it’s literally transforming the way they work. Samasource has connected women, youth and refugees to meaningful work opportunities over the internet. Kiva funds millions of dollars in loans through online donations to entrepreneurs in need. We’re also seeing this in Canada. And Ladies Learning Code is one of many organizations in Canada using web-based tools to run a network of 6,000 volunteers to host code-learning workshops all over the country.

We’re inspired and humbled by the amazing ways nonprofits are making the world a better place, and look forward to supporting the work of more nonprofits in Canada.