Millennials Go ‘Native’ with Comedy

by Mark Jafar, Viacom

Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Don’t miss Bill Carter’s piece in today’s New York Times on Comedy Central’s “Comedy Natives” study and what it reveals about how Millennials — particularly young men — build identity through humor.

For the generation that made video viral, the Daily Show clips you post to Facebook or the number of times you’ve watched Charlie bite his brother’s finger on YouTube says more about you than what’s on your iPod. It’s a trend the research folks at MTV have cleverly labeled, “smart and funny is the new rock ‘n’ roll.”

To wit:

“We called them Comedy Natives,” said Tanya Giles, the executive vice president for research at Comedy Central’s parent, MTV Networks. “Comedy is so central to who they are, the way they connect with other people, the way they get ahead in the world. One big takeaway is that unlike previous generations, humor, and not music, is their No. 1 form of self-expression.”

The challenge now, said Michele Ganeless, the president of Comedy Central, “is creating a new business model around all of this.”

This uber-observation is supported by many interesting strands of data on how the definition of comedy and just what exactly constitutes “funny” changes from one generation to the next.

One of our favorite examples is how Gen X tends to favor irony and a more measured, Seinfeld-ian build-up to a joke, whereas Millennials prefer quick-hit humor…context and PC be damned.

Chanon Cook, the top research executive for Comedy Central, said the results also indicated that “irony has been replaced by absurdity.”

This clip from Tosh.0 demonstrates the latter beautifully…

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  1. Great work by the CC Research group and congrats on the NY Times article.

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