Tonight, comedy will have changed forever, officially. It’s been changing for awhile, but the change is now definite.
It’s such a bold, overwrought sentiment, but the final episode of The Late Show with David Letterman is a rare singular moment that actually signals an entire changing of the guard, the tides, and alignment in the planets as far as comedy is concerned.
Over the last few years, the modes of distribution, production, and even creation and conception of comedy have been shifting, but there have always been vestiges of decades past still very present in the art form. The late night talk show, multi cam sitcoms, etc. still exist in 2015 in very similar ways to the time when they were first put on TV. There are still stand-up comedy specials just like there were scores of years ago and the variety show might just be back on the upswing.
Yet, comedy in 2015 is so different from even just five years ago.
As of this moment:
NBC has one comedy on its upcoming fall line-up.
The Mindy Project is the last sitcom to get cancelled by a network to be only picked up by an online streaming service.
There are entire festivals dedicated to podcasts.
Multiple current series at Comedy Central have won Peabody Awards.
The most senior late night talk show host will be Conan O’Brien.
Trevor Noah, Larry Wilmore, Saurin Choksi, Grace Parra, and Samantha Bee will comprise the non male caucasian portion of late night hosts.
Louie still defies all conventions of television.
Dramedy is slowly becoming its own genre.
Weird Al Yankovic reached #1 on the entire Billboard charts with “Mandatory Fun”.
Comedy albums get vinyl rereleases now.
Everything can and will be parodied, especially if it’s popular at all.
There are more comedy writers, stand-ups, improvisers, sketch performers, etc. than ever before.
A Richard Pryor biopic might actually get made this time around.
Social media has driven controversy in comedy to highs from both comedians and audiences that it has never seen before.
WTF! w/Marc Maron and Comedy Bang! Bang! found their way from being a podcast to a full fledged television show with multiple seasons.
While there is still a predominance of straight white males in stand-up, the likes of Jen Kirkman, James Adomian, Cameron Esposito, Hari Kondabolu, and more continue to move onwards and upwards.
As shown by Community, The Comeback, and even Full House and Coach, no sitcom is entirely dead.
The Chris Gethard Show made it from public access to cable.
Kickstarter and Indiegogo have crowdfunded numerous web series, comedy tours, movies, and more including millions for projects by Zach Braff, Starburns Industries, Super Troopers, Alan Tudyk/Nathan Fillion.
More and more cable networks have rebranded towards comedy like IFC, FXx and TruTV.
Fox News is trying for their own Daily Show with Greg Gutfeld.
If you’re getting a sense of the picture of how comedy is these days, it’s only headed more in this direction, especially after Dave.