These days, everyone can use a few good laughs. Guess that means Comedy Central's latest launch is well-timed.
The Viacom-owned cable network took Jokes.com, a property it acquired in 2002, and relaunched it Wednesday as a hub for its stand-up comedy archives. Sort of like a Hulu for stand-up comedy, it's debuting with over 5,000 video clips (embeddable and shareable, naturally) and 12,000 text-based jokes that are searchable by topic ("George W. Bush" or "holidays") and by comedian. A "Comedians A-Z" database provides information on different stand-up comics and who's on tour--the site sells tickets and merchandise, too.
"Stand-up comedy and comedians have always been the backbone of the network," said Erik Flannigan, executive vice president of digital media at MTV Networks Entertainment Group, the Viacom division that encompasses Comedy Central.
Since the clips in the video archive are sourced from Comedy Central programming going back to 1997's The A-List, none of them go beyond a late-night-cable level of tawdriness. The text jokes, Flannigan said, can be dirtier.
"We're not trying to make it as dirty as humanly possible, but we're not adhering to the same standards as broadcast," he explained.
But Jokes.com, which was put together over the course of about a year by a team of about 20 people, will likely expand beyond television content soon. Flannigan said the company has "explored the notion" of adding stand-up comedy from other Viacom properties like MTV and BET. Comedy Central representatives continue to plan to grow the site, introducing the ability for users to upload their own stand-up videos and add more social-networking features for comedians to network with fans. Members of the team hinted that they speak on a frequent basis with News Corp.'s MySpace to discuss possible cross-promotion and campaigns for discovering young comedians.
There's also a "joke-a-day" iPhone app coming in 2009. Better warn your boss about the impending plunge in productivity.