Why I'm Starting a Live Streaming Show
Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying And Love The Twitch
For the past month, I’ve been hosting a live streaming show on Twitch called Help Wanted which, for those of you who aren’t gamers or 14 year olds or 14 year old gamers, is a place for people to live stream themselves doing….whatever.
Most people think of Twitch as a place for people to watching other people play video games online. This is true, but in a couple of ways not the whole picture. For the video game streamers, its more like you’re hanging out with someone as they game - the engagement with the audience is most of the appeal, I think.
And more importantly, there’s a ton of streams on Twitch which have nothing to do with gaming. There are musicians streaming live concerts, dudes like Hasan Abi who just sorta scrolls through the news and comments on it (and gets 28k live viewers a stream). There’s weirder stuff too, like one of my favorites - the Therapy Gecko, who is a Gecko that gives therapy advice to people who call in.
There’s even a genre called ‘hot tub meta” which is exactly what it sounds like - ladies hanging in hot tubs. And so that’s what I’m doing - a hot tub show in a bikini. It’s hot and its steamy and frankly? It gets the people going. No, no it actually very much did not get the people going. Much to the contrary, everyone from friends to strangers begged me to stop doing it. So if anyone wants a Hot Tub, Barely Used please do let me know.
Help Wanted: A Show
Instead I’ve been experimenting with live streaming a show I call Help Wanted. What is Help Wanted? WELL I AM GLAD YOU ASKED dear friend.
The format is usually this - I bring on a guest, someone who is funny or interesting or usually both - and ask them for advice on various topics. The audience - who is watching live and able to comment in the chat - also asks the guest questions. Then we get to the main event - the guest asks for help with something they need advice on.
Guests have asked for help with how to be more vulnerable, how to start a new hobby as an adult, how to nail a job interview, and a whole lot more.
Its a hot mess of chaos and fun and I gotta admit…I sorta love it? So far we’ve been getting audiences of about 5-20 million people per streamand I gotta say, I only see things growing from here. In fact just yesterday I hosted actor Valter Skarsgard, aka the King of Twitter, and we had an audience of about 50 million people watching. It was dope.
I generally lose track of time while streaming - we’ll be vibin and chattin and 4 hours will have gone by. I am told that this is good. That this is flow.
As someone who doubts himself and all of his opinions, I often look to bodily indicators such as this to confirm that I am, in fact, enjoying what I am doing. They tell me not to doubt, or rather to doubt the doubt. They say: yes this is healthy, yes this is good.
In addition to having a guest on, I’m also playing with a format where I stream myself writing / editing my sketches. A live audience (of millions) watches and tells me what they think is funny. Sometimes it’ll even turn into a writer’s room where we all collab on sketch ideas. There’s something dope to this - the concept of working in public. It opens me up to criticism in a safe way AND helps me better understand what stuff is working and isn’t working with a sketch. Very cool.
From No Pressure to All Pressure
The show began as a simple joy: I streamed a few times just for the hell of it. No pressure, no expectations. It was glorious and it? Was good. It even solved a huge conundrum I’ve been having lately - how do I pursue comedy while being a dad? I don’t wanna be away from my family for most of the year touring as a road comic. It just feels weird. Not my vibe. So this could be a way to circumvent that while still doing comedy, still doing my thing. Perfect, right?
NO. Cuz as soon as I started getting excited, my brain’s capitalist wheels of bullshit started to turn. I couldn’t help myself from thinking about how THIS WAS THE BIG IDEA. All a sudden I’m twenty steps ahead thinking about how this will be a podcast, a ‘brand’, a whole thing that I could build my work around. In short, it was yuck. It’s like there’s some dumb entrepreneur Gary V part of me who is always scheming. Not a bad thing, exactly, but right now I don’t think it’s helping. Why?
Because it makes my expectations skyrocket. As soon as the Success Train leaves the station, I’m instantly failing. I become obsessed with how many people are watching each stream and friends? It’s never enough.
After starting the show, I also created my own Discord server - basically a non-lame Slack where people can hang out and be notified when the show is live. Twenty minutes later I had a panic attack about how few people had joined the Discord, a clear cut sign that this entire plan was doomed before it even begun.
There’s a passage in some book, I forget which one, that says something like ‘once you feel the concept of time, you immediately don’t have enough of it.”
That’s how I feel about expectation: Now that there is expectation you are not meeting it.
At least that’s how it is for me.
So then what’s the cure? None ya dumbo there are no cures this isn’t polio.
One thing that helps me is remembering how much fun I have actually doing the thing. So I try to get closer to being inside the moment rather than projecting out into the future - inside of the thing rather than thinking about what the thing might lead to.
Because in the moment, the place where the good time of actually doing the show is happening, there can’t be any expectation. There you are present and that presence? Is a present. I am sorry for what I just wrote.
So why’d I write all this out? To solve my woes? Nay! TO GET YOU TO FOLLOW MY CHANNEL YA DUMBO!
YES THIS WHOLE POST HAS BEEN AN AD FOR MY STREAM. I GOTCHU I CANT ZBLEIEFVE YOU FELL FOR IT YOU FOOL
And for no reason at all, here are some links:
Follow my channel on twitch here - www.twitch.tv/helpwantedplz.
And if you want to join the Discord, you can do so here - https://discord.gg/95NXB6uKCS.
For a more thorough walkthrough of the history and ethics of this type of streams, check out this Kotaku write up. Personally I feel like there’s nothing wrong with them and saying so is misogynistic as fuck brotha.
The twitch stream itself says we only have 5-20 actual people watching, but I know this is a lie. I know that there are actually 5-20 million and Big Streaming is trying to quiet me.
After a day or two of sulking I realized that I need to be in this for the long game and that I must. Not. Focus. On. The. Numbers. I have yet to successfully implement this strategy.