Freelancing Gods 2015

14 Jun 2010

Laughtrack Review

So, it’s been a couple of months since the Melbourne International Comedy Festival wrapped up, and thus, a couple of months since LaughTrack went silent. I just want to write up a last batch of statistics, as well as some broader thoughts on how the site went in general.

I should have been doing this back when the festival actually finished, but some things got in the way of catching up on classifying all the tweets, and so I only actually got through the last of it yesterday.

The Leaderboard

A quick look at the top 10 (well, 11, given tied scores), going by quality:

Show Rating
The Pajama Men: The Last Stand to Reason 93
Nina Conti: Talk to the Hand 93
Ross Noble: Things 91
Jamie Kilstein: Revenge of the Serfs 91
Adam Hills: Mess Around 91
David O’Doherty: David O’Doh-party 91
Good Evening: Shaun Micallef & Stephen Curry 91
Frank Woodley: Bewilderbeest 90
Celia Pacquola: Flying Solos 90
Josie Long: Be Honourable 90
Melinda Buttle: Sista Got Flow 90

Most of those are quite established, but it’s worth noting those who are relative newcomers to the comedy scene: Celia Pacquola and Melinda Buttle – and those who are relative newcomers to Australian shores: The Pajama Men and Jamie Kilstein.


Here’s who made the biggest gains by rating over the final two weeks of the festival (I’ve trimmed the list to 8 – there’s another 7 on the next score down):

Show Initial Rating Current Rating Difference
Poet Laureate Telia Nevile: While I’m Away 0 65 65
Smart Casual: Same Mother, Different Fathers 0 60 60
Spontaneous Broadway 27 84 57
Mark Butler: I’ve Been Watching You Australians 0 53 53
Good News Week 0 53 53
Stevl Shefn and His Translator Fatima 0 53 53
Terry North: Life’s A Joke 0 53 53
Die Roten Punkte: Kunst Rock 27 72 45

In most of those cases, it only took a handful of positive tweets to gain some serious quality points. So again, let’s go by tweets instead of rating – because this turns out to be a far better metric for who has been getting a lot of buzz.

Show Initial Count Current Count Difference
Arj Barker: Let Me Do The Talking 43 77 34
Ross Noble: Things 29 62 33
The Pajama Men: The Last Stand to Reason 26 54 28
Josh Thomas: Surprise 17 38 21
Rich Fulcher: Eleanor the Tour Whore 23 42 19
Tim Key: The Slutcracker 32 50 18
Adam Hills: Mess Around 26 44 18
Sam Simmons: Fail 15 31 16
Jamie Kilstein: Revenge of the Serfs 15 30 15
Josie Long: Be Honourable 13 28 15

I’m not going to bother analyse the data from which shows were sold out – it’s far from complete.

What’s next?

LaughTrack was a fun experiment for the festival, but I’m not quite sure of its future.

It’s possibly useful for other festivals (especially those with repeat performances – so, Fringe festivals much more than Film festivals), but I don’t quite have the passion for those festivals compared to the MICF. In other words, I’m probably not going to commit the time to keep the site up-to-date for the Melbourne Fringe (for example) without some personal incentive.

The classification system also needs a lot of work. I spent many, many hours classifying tweets, because automating that kind of intelligence into a website is far from easy, and I couldn’t get it to a reliable state without human interaction. I could open the classification out to everyone who visits the site – and if I run this for next year’s MICF, that’s quite likely – but again, it’s additional work.

And it’s worth noting that most tweets that LaughTrack picked up were not reviews – there was a lot of noise, and very little signal (which is the main problem with automating classification).

So where does that leave us? Well, I’m definitely interested in reprising LaughTrack for next year’s Comedy Festival, and hopefully can get the people behind the festival to send some data on ticket sales through.

As for other festivals, I’m going to need some financial support to dedicate any time to adapting and maintaining the site. If you’re interested in sponsoring development on LaughTrack for a festival, then please do get in touch.

I would love to hear feedback on whether you found the site useful during the festival, and how it could improve. From a personal level, I know I found new shows to go see purely by reading the thousands of tweets that came through.


2 responses to this article

14 Jun 2010
Rose said:

Hey Pat,

I found Laughtrack interesting to follow throughout the MICF, though it didn’t influence any of my show choices. The Leaderboard sure is chock full of excellent shows, though I don’t think the Gains is a good indicator of quality. Laughtrack was definitely a good resource to follow the buzz around shows, though I agree it would have been kind of MICF to let you know what shows were selling out, for example. It will be interesting to see in future years how Laughtrack develops as more people join the Twitter bandwagon.


29 Oct 2011
egor said:

hi, read somewhere that u will be in Ukraine and u are programming Ruby. Iam not programmer, but i have some begginers knowledge about it, and once i tried to understad rubyrails but i can not. I need somebody to help me sometimes to understand some things to start programming in it). And i invite you to Odessa, Ukraine. This is very city and as u like travelling it will be interesting for u to stay here and help me to start to understand rubyrails).
I can propose u host u for sometimes at my apartment, teach russian language, or make advanture tours in Ukraine or somewhere in direction to east from Ukraine), for example Caucas region, or Central Asia, Afghanistan or Far east Russian).
See u

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