Today’s most innovative comedians are not necessarily telling jokes in front of a live audience, on TV, or in the movies. A new golden age of comedy is playing out online and via mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers. There are apps that showcase the funniest satirists on Twitter, broadcast interviews with newcomers and comedy legends, and make classic publications like The Onion and Cracked come alive.
So, cue the laugh track and download these five mobile apps right away.
Witstream (iPhone, iPod Touch: Free)
Twitter’s insistence that all status updates can be no more than 140 characters is a boon to the comedy industry. The best jokes and punchlines are short, snappy, and responsive to topical events. Comedians including Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and Joy Behar reveal different sides of themselves on Twitter and find audiences that they otherwise would not be able to attract. With thousands of smart alecs sending out Tweets by the second, it is not always easy to find your favorite comedian on Twitter and tap into satirical analysis of significant pop-cultural events. Witstream, managed in part by comedian Michael Ian Black, rightfully bills itself as “your 24-hour live comedy ticker”. The app not only curates tweets from notable and up-and-coming comedians, but is also a must have app to tap into during live events like the Oscar’s or presidential debates. Sections in the app include “Spotlight”, “The Black List”, and “Tweet The Press”.
Before iPhone apps became a household name nearly four years ago, comics were early adopters to the podcasting medium. Podcasts are basically radio programs or snippets where topics are explored that aren’t always accessible to commercial broadcasts (or would otherwise require seven-second delay buttons!). Comedians including Adam Carolla, (Clerks director) Kevin Smith and Jimmy Kimmel all have their own official iPhone apps that distribute their podcasts and other programming. If you’re looking for an app that pulls together podcasts from tomorrow’s stars, Earwolf, created by Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich, is your best bet out of many quality options. Note to Android users, you must have Google’s Listen app installed for everything to work properly. There is also an Earwolf Live app for the iPhone that notifies users of comics appearing in their area.
More than just copy-and-paste jobs, the mobile apps for The Onion combine the portability of the weekly paper with the multimedia videos and audiocasts of the website. Hilarious headlines and articles from The Onion you may have missed in other formats are clearly presented within the apps giving the reader every opportunity to chuckle and ask how they think of all that stuff. The Onion also publishes a fun novelty Magic Answer Ball iPhone app that gives outrageous answers to any questions asked to it after shaking the device. Prefer an older school brand of satire? Try downloading the free Cracked.com for iPad app.
McSweeney's (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch: Free)
If you are looking for more literary-oriented laughter, then the official app from McSweeney’s is the one for you. Based on the publication founded by author/editor Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s presents expertly written and whimsical short stories and videos. The content is contained within an elegant interface that may make you forget you are looking at a digital device.
WTF with Marc Maron (iPhone, iPad iPod Touch: Free)
Veteran comedian and former Comedy Central host Marc Maron is living the American dream with his chart-topping podcast and application. Down on his luck a few years ago, Maron started recording a podcast in his garage as he had no other offers for work. In long-form interviews, WTF taps the comic minds of the funniest people on the planet including Jimmy Fallon, director Judd Apatow and Stephen Wright. The app includes free listens of the last six months of podcasts as well as other goodies.