Performing comedy in Zoom

This document is a set of tips on performing comedy through Zoom intended for comedians with some experience who aren’t used to live streaming. This is a living document. I’ll add to it as I find out more.

  1. You can install Zoom on your phone or tablet through the relevant Android or Apple app store. Unofficial instructions for laptops are available here.
  2. To be able to talk you need to sign in to zoom before entering the room.
  3. Point the camera so only what you want to be seen is in frame. Maybe swing the phone / laptop around so it’s facing a blank wall.
  4. See if you can get the lighting on your face as good as possible. Standard for live is a light each side of you at 45 degree angles, coming from a position higher than your head. I’ve been experimenting with a 9 watt LED desk light on top of my desk’s built in shelving on one side and the room lighting on the other. Not great but works unless I’m in the DEATH outfit which benefits from bad lighting. The desk light on one side, a similar powered work light on the other and the ceiling light produce lighting that is incredibly close in quality to our stage lights.
  5. Consider how much of your body you want in frame. A lot of people just have their face there, but if you’re used to stand-up you’re probably also used to moving your hands and arms for emphasis, etc. (Something I’ve had to adjust to wearing a mask where can’t use facial expressions for emphasis). If you want to show your upper body & not just your head, you’ll need to be about 1½ arm-lengths back from the camera. To have your feet in frame, even further back. Being further back makes your voice quieter. Trade offs. We suspect Bluetooth mics might help but haven’t tested it.
  6. Except for comedic effect, try and keep yourself centered (L-R) in the screen. Much the same applies to vertical placement. If you want to show your face make sure the top of your head is below the top of the frame & your chin above the bottom. Keep glancing at your own picture to check your placement. A good rule of thumb is to have your eyes between ¼ and ⅓ of the way down the screen, as long as your face is entirely visible.
  7. Check out the volume level on your laptop/phone/etc at some points we have been getting an annoying buzz, I think this may have been caused by overload.
  8. Please mute all other local sources of sound (TV, Music players, chainsaws, etc) before enabling your microphone.
  9. NB: If you have two devices with audio enabled both connected to the Zoom session, you will cause feedback. This will upset the audience.

If you’re going to perform in one of our shows, haven’t used Zoom before and want a practice, let us know a couple of hours before showtime & I’ll set up a session for you.

We’re experimentally providing a completely optional green room in a Zoom breakout room. Please read this Zoom document on participating in them and note the following.

  • Initially the host will need to assign you access to the green room. We intend offering everyone in the cast access. If you are accidentally missed, just ask.
  • You can stay in the main room or move to the green room as you wish
  • Once you have been offered access to the green room you can freely move back and forward between the main room and the green room as often as you like
  • You will need to move yourself to the main room before performing.
  • If you get stuck in the green room we can’t extricate you and you will need to exit your Zoom session and come back in.

We’ve created some short videos to help you understand the additional requirements for performing live streamed comedy.

Setting up a performing area for live streaming stand-up comedy.

Primarily designed for people livestreaming live comedy, it might be useful for solo performers in other art forms with similar requirements.
Framing For Live Streaming Comedy

Primarily designed for people livestreaming live comedy in this video I talk about how to get yourself positioned well in the picture you are making. It might be useful for solo performers in other art forms with similar requirements
Lighting For Live Streaming Standup

Tips for lighting livestreamed stand-up comedy. Possibly useful for solo performers in art forms with similar requirements