US comedians in line-up for new Sansar series

Image courtesy of Linden Lab

On Wednesday, November 28th, Linden Lab announced a new series for Sansar: Comedy Gladiators, hosted by American comedian and television personality, Steven Hofstetter, which Linden Lab describes as:

A live comedy showcase that lets anyone, anywhere step directly into a comedy club for the night. The series will allow fans to do everything in VR that they would do at a real-life comedy club: purchase tickets in advance, shop for custom merchandise and memorabilia, even order drinks.

– From the Linden Lab announcement

Steven Hofstetter – Hosting and participating in Comedy Gladiators

The first event in the series is scheduled for 19:30 Pacific Time (US) on Monday, December 10th, and will feature the talents of Ben Gleib, Maz Jobrani, Alonzo Bodden, and Mary Lynn Rajskub – perhaps best known on television for her role as Chloe O’Brian in the action thriller series 24.

Comedy Gladiators represents a number of firsts for Sansar.

It is the first ticketed event on the platform. Ticketing is a capability the Lab have been developing for a while for Sansar, with the idea that in time, experience creators will be able to sell tickets to events held within their own experiences.

For Comedy Gladiators, tickets are offered for sale through the Sansar Store at US $4.99 through until December 5th, and then US $9.99 thereafter, up to the event itself. I would anticipate that in the future, experience creators will be able to sell their tickets the same way.

Another interesting factor with Comedy Gladiators is that it mixes the ability to purchase both virtual and physical through the Sansar Store – in this case, copies of Hofstetter’s latest book, Ginger Kidd – with the virtual goods including t-shirts, beer mugs.

Finally, the series is potentially the first large-scale showcasing of Sansar’s “Avatar Broadcasting” feature. This allows performers and presenters working from a single stage / experience in Sansar to reach a potentially unlimited audience through multiple linked instances of the event.

Every day, I get emails and DMs from fans who want to see a live show, but they live in parts of the world I’ll probably never tour in. VR allows those fans to not only see a live show, but feel like they’re part of a bigger community.

– Comedy Gladiators host, Steven Hofstetter

It’s not clear where else the event is being advertised – in checking various websites, including Hofstetter’s own, I didn’t come across any direct adverts. However, the media have picked-up on the event, with reports in the likes of  Variety, with the original press release being reproduced in multiple on-line media covering business, VR, and entertainment.

The Lab is clearly hoping for big things from this move, with Ebbe Altberg noting:

By bringing these commercial opportunities into VR, Sansar is taking virtual events to a whole new level – enhancing and expanding on what’s possible in-person. We look at Comedy Gladiators as the first ripple in a larger wave – the first event of many more that bring entertainers into VR.

– Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO

The line up for the first Comedy Gladiators: Mary Lynn Rajskub, Ben Gleib, Maz Jobrani and Alonzo Bodden

It’s not clear how often this series will take place, or whether this first event is simply experimental. However, it is a daring move to bring something new and different to VR, and to extend the concept of social VR within the realm of entertainment.

One potential stumbling block is the comparatively low uptake of VR headsets; given Comedy Gladiators is being promoted as a “social VR event”, without very clear underlining that Sansar can also be enjoyed as a desktop activity, there is a risk people might avoid the opportunity to join the audience even if advertising does reach a wide audience due to the misapprehension that a VR headset is a requirement.

On a personal note, I am also curious as to the origins of this series – Comedy Gladiators is a monthly live event held in Bristol,  UK – which I believe is where Sansar’s community manager, Eliot, originally hails from…

With thanks to Wurfi for the heads-up.