Geek Speak: Chris Hall, president of My ComedyBook
Chris Hall is building a Myspace for comedians. The 29-year-old owner of the Sin Bin Sports Grill (295 West 2nd Avenue) regular hosts comedy shows at his Vancouver establishment, and is the president of the Internet startup My ComedyBook.
Hall calls My ComedyBook a “new social platform developed specifically for comedians and comedy lovers”. On March 29, a launch party for the free website took place at Barcelona Ultra Lounge. The plan is to promote the site across Canada and the U.S. According to Hall, comedians from as far away as Texas and Florida have already joined the site.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Hall is not a comic himself. He says he likes edgy but not over-the-top comedy. Aziz Ansari and Russell Peters are among his favourite comedians.
The Georgia Straight reached Hall by phone in Vancouver.
Where did you get the idea for My ComedyBook?
There’s two reasons that we came up with the idea. One was, for running shows at the bar, we didn’t have any way of researching comedians or finding comedians. We’d get comedians that would come in and say, “Can you put me on this show?” and I had never heard of them and had no way to look them up or find any information about them, which I thought would definitely be a useful tool. I know a lot of companies book comedians for corporate events and shows and things like that, and there’s nothing really out there to look them up.
The second reason, I guess, is I was surprised for the comedians that there was no centralized site for them to promote themselves. Musicians have Myspace and actors have IMDb and Casting Workbook, and there’s all these sites out there for other arts, but there was nothing for comedy.
What’s been the response from comedians to the site?
The main response that I’ve gotten is, “I hate you. Why didn’t I think of this?” Everybody that I tell about it and that’s found out about it is like, “I can’t believe that it’s 2012, and nothing’s been done like this yet.” So it’s been a good response. We’ve had lots of comedians in Vancouver sign up since our Vancouver launch. We’ve had almost 100 comedians in Vancouver sign up.
Are there any comedians out there that you think use social media really well?
I think there’s some. I know some local ones and people that I know that definitely use it way better than others. I think what we found and why we think the site will be better is that social media—a lot of it—is limited to people you already know. So Facebook is great for these comedians to promote their events. They’ll put up videos and they’ll post their shows and do all of that. But that is really only reaching their 400-500 friends and people who already know them that aren’t actively looking for shows but just happen to be friends with them on Facebook.
Any tips for comedians looking to use My ComedyBook?
I think the main tip for them is just to post their events and link their events with the other comedians. One of the cool things about the site is that when you create an event—if I’m hosting it, I can create the event and then I can add the other comedians that are going to be on the show to that event. So when you open the event, it will actually link to all their profile pages. So if I’m a user, I can find the event that’s on tonight, click on each of the comedians, watch their videos, and sort of find out a little bit about each of them. And that also posts the event on each of their pages, so if I’m not searching for them but I find that person, the event that they’ve posted will be on their profile too.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.