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Jan 23, 2015

With the world under effective social distancing and lockdown measures, live performances seem like a no go for a solid half year at least. So let's talk about performing online. Have you always done it? Have you just started? Are you running a show online that you want people to know about? Let's talk about these things!

I myself decided to start an online show, and any advise is based on my experiences.


The obvious reason? Nobody can get out of the house right now. But they still might miss shows.
You can "potentially" get a bigger audience. At least in terms of eyeballs and numbers and geographic check ins.
It's already recorded! You have a catalogue of your performances.
Can do some interesting effects with transitions, green screens, tickers, and the like for updates, sponsorship, broadcast, etc.

You can't guarantee people will be in the room. Sure, more people have access to a stream/video, but do they stay till the end? Do they just nip in and out?
Limited interaction. People can chat, like, but can you as a performer hear their gasped awe, their hearty chortles, their poignant silence?
Online has a different rhythm and formula to live performances, and translating to a different platform might not be smooth.


The following is my experience so far:

Performing Online as a Stand Up Comedian
This is the art form that I feel requires the most to adapt to the online format. Comedians are used to getting direct feedback for their sets, ie laughter, and you can't get that online. Not really. So how do you practice your timing and nail the pauses, the beats that make your set work? If you shoot it with no other performer/audience in view, you're just going to have to get a feel for it. Don't rush through applause breaks, but don't hold on a punchline for so long either.
The most conducive set up sans audience I've found, is to have all the other performers in view, muted. You can look to them for reactions. Did someone smirk? Chuckle out loud? Shake their head at a painful pun? You get a bit of reaction to work with, and can base your timing off it. At least, it helped for me.
This set up happened for me on a Zoom call, which allows people to be muted and to have a gallery view where you can see everyone. Of course, now we know Zoom is utter poo poo when it comes to privacy, so you might want to check out Jitsi Meet, Hangouts, Skype, Streamyard, Webex or Be.Live instead. Seriously, Zoom is a privacy nightmare. Wish I knew enough on how to test the others!

A lot of comedians here (in Malaysia) have started migrating to daily livestreams where we talk and joke around with other comedians. I'm not running one, but it feels like a solid quarter of the scene is involved everyday.

Performing Online as a Poet/Storyteller
Perform as always really. Try to make eye contact with the webcam. If you're cheat sheeting with your piece/references open, put them close to where the webcam is to "maintain" eye contact.

Performing Online as a Musician
Not a musician but I've seen a few and I think my main takeaway as an audience is "Please test the setup first" because it is so easy to get distortion of some sort. Really hurt my eardrums with headphones on.

Hosting an Open Mic online
I haven't hosted as of time of writing (that's going to change by Saturday!) but so far these are my observations:
- There's no stage walking time so shows go by much faster
- There is always someone who messed up their mic settings, even if they had a mic test earlier. 100% bound to happen
- Time? What is time? Keeping to time? What is that? Luckily, it's easy to mute or boot people online.
- There's a lot of people snacking.

Programs to use

OBS Studio + Stream Elements - It's got a bit of a learning curve, but OBS Studio is a completely free option to streaming. Stream Elements is a free add-on for OBS Studio that simplifies the streaming process. While it takes a while to understand what each of the buttons do, you can get to a working stream quite quick if you're willing to google.

Streamlabs OBS - The fork of OBS that's got a more simplified interface. Some people like this more. They claim to be more optimised, but I don't know how to measure that. Also free.

XSplit Broadcaster - More professional software that's paid for monthly. It's pricey, but some people use it, and a quick look at the features makes it probably one of the easiest to set up?

Xsplit VCam - My room is messy, this is a virtual green screen. Works well enough, I think. A real green screen would be better but that would require a big reworking of my room/workspace. I got a lifetime key from Mashable at 50% off.

If anyone has more testimonials/advice to share, I'll edit it in.


Jan 23, 2015

Goon Shows - Shows run by goons!

Spacewalk With Me is a storytelling open mic livestream. All kinds of stories are valid here: real life encounters, history lessons, fictional short stories/excerpts, fairy tales, and more. Each performer gets 7 minutes to tell their story. The first show is going to run on 11 April 2020, 8pm (GMT+8, Kuala Lumpur).
This show was started basically by me going, "Wait, are none of the local storytelling shows going online?" So I decided to learn as much as I can about setting one up and doing my own. Trip report later on! Also you can tell a story if you want.
Honestly not sure if I'll stick to this being an online-only show after lockdown measures are lifted. We'll see.

Other Online Shows to Jump Onto - Will update these when I get them. So far there's quite a few one-offs, since most people juuuust started putting their shows online, many to raise funds for charity, many to test if they can do it.

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