No one was happy when Twitter announced that they were ending their video-sharing platform Vine. Here’s why: the concept was genius. A whole new brand of comedy was created in the time restriction of six seconds. Like the Tweet limit of 140 characters, users were forced to stretch their creativity to the extreme to gain popularity – and that is exactly what they did.
Six seconds on an endless loop. The task of creating something funny enough in this miniscule frame to be worth viewing again and again and again – the highest paying comedians of the world would proclaim it impossible. After all, repetition is the enemy of humour. However, Vines were a brand of comedy in themselves. They took the focus away from what passes for comedy these days: half-hearted sitcoms on the same old laugh tracks from the fifties, overpaid men in suits proclaiming their observations to arenas, the strained puns of which the Great British Bake Off is so proud. These forms have had their time – Vine was the new medium and it knew it.
Part of what made Vine so great was that it allowed the rise to fame of genuinely talented comedians. The teens who made their name on the website did not buy their fame through ability to hire out venues and arenas, nor were they afforded the privileges of being born into it – such as Jack Whitehall. No one writes their lines, and no one sets their stage. The competition of the social media element drove the quality of videos even higher. New depths of irony have been reached, working hand in hand with the rise of the meme to dominate the field of “what makes young people laugh”. All it takes to be funny on Vine is a little imagination, a burst of creativity and the basic understanding of what makes people laugh. All ingredients commonly lacking in the comedy game nowadays.
Perhaps another reason why Vine was so successful is that it harked back to the old days of sketch comedy. Sketches, despite being some of the most inventive and original forms of humour, face severe discrimination from the modern comedy scene. The most successful stand-ups from the Fringe Festival find themselves offered places on Live at the Apollo and slots on the ever increasingly popular panel show scene. Winners of the Chortle award sketch troupe Pappy’s, however, find themselves left with Dick and Dom’s Funny Business on at 10 in the morning. Vine has brought back the beauty and creativity of the classic sketch to worldwide viewership – and it is clear to see it has been missed.
Alas, the time of Vine is now outgrown. Twitter finds itself unable to make enough money from the app (as it does not lend itself to advertising – another of its perks). Gone are the days of a friend tagging you in a miniscule comic masterpiece with the simple caption “you”. Gone are the stars of the app who found their fame in six seconds, who now take their talents to a lengthier broadcast, perhaps on Instagram video or Snapchat. Now all we are left with is the memories, a new class of irony, and a revival of the comedy genre that propelled Monty Python and The Two Ronnies to fame. Farewell Vine, you will be sorely missed.
Image credit: Twin Design