Here is a new take on reality shows. NBC is apparently asking the national viewing audience to submit ideas for fresh new comedies. The network vehicle for this is called ‘Comedy Playground’.
The idea is to involve the national viewing public in the creation and discovery of the next big comedic talent. NBC Entertainment’s Jennifer Salke’s desire is to find and develop new material for the network along with finding new talent trying to break into television. What better way than to reach out to the general public and hope to find that next Robin Williams just itching to blast into the world of television comedy.
NBC is asking entrants (contestants) to submit 2, 5 to 10 minute videos of original comedic work and 2, 2 to 5 minute videos pitching their idea for an original comedy project. An A-list of actors, writers and producers will provide the judging of which projects meet the network’s approval and two winners will be selected from a shortlist of up to 10 finalists. These two finalists will have the opportunity of having up to 5 episodes of their project produced. Other ‘runners up’ may have their work produced for NBC.COM. Viewers will be encouraged to vote for their favorite project to be created for a digital series.
Lord knows, network television needs something to bring it out of its comedy doldrums. However, what I am seeing here is another variation of reality shows such as ‘America’s Got Talent’; perhaps without the visibility and maybe even the fun that contestants on these other shows enjoy. I do not know if you can call being ridiculed by Simon Cowell as ‘fun’.
As much as this may seem a great idea, as I am sure there are many highly talented comics and comedy writers that may never see the light of day or the LCD screen of a modern TV, it remains to be seen whether this will actually generate something a fickle and changing national audience will embrace.
As far as the winners of this new network initiative, it will give them their 15 minutes in the sun. Perhaps it may even produce another comedy classic in the likes of ‘Andy Griffith’, ‘M*A*S*H’ or ‘Happy Days’ to name just a few. On the other hand, how much longer will viewers even give a moment’s pause as they search the TV channels for something, anything of substance to watch?