The third in a series of profiles in which musicians, comedians and other performers discuss livestreams and the art of interacting with virtual audiences
For an onstage comic, laughter means you’re “killing.” Silence means you’re “dying.”
So trying to perform to a virtual audience with limited interaction can feel like a whole bunch of death.
For Columbus comic Amber Falter, it’s definitely been an adjustment.
“It's terrifying. And I don't love it. But I think it's a really fun new challenge for comics,” Falter said. “I'm more nervous to go on a livestream than to be onstage for 100 people right now.”
But as Falter has gotten experience in this new normal, she’s also learning new ways to get that audience feedback that propels a good comedy set.
“One of the streams I did, Columbus Goes Live, they just had so many people watching,” Falter said. “When you see a comic [you know] pop up [in the live comments] … it felt encouraging. It was a quick second, and they're just like ‘LOL!’”
She likened performing online to her usual routine working through material before a gig.
“It makes me feel like that hour before a show that's important to me, where I'm talking into a mustard bottle to my dog in my kitchen and I'm not getting much of a reaction and they're just mostly annoyed with me,” she laughed. “And I feel kinda like that.”
Falter has also started her own show on Zoom and Instagram Live called “That’s the Stuff,” where she does a more long-form interview with a fellow comedian focused on nostalgia for the simpler times of childhood.
She also had some unexpected success with another kind of content on Instagram live.
“I did go live once on Instagram just to show two toads that were having sex in the pond outside, so that was a big day,” she said.
“I was at 36 people watching. Still getting texts about to this day. Can't find them, so I'm out of content,” Falter laughed.
In between producing toad porn and her own talk show, Falter recently was able to perform at a “virtual comedy club” called Nowhere Comedy Club, which lets the audience join via Zoom and encourages them to unmute their mics so the performers can actually hear laughter again.
“The laughs were life-saving,” Falter said. “It was awesome to hear feedback. I could’ve cried.”
Falter also opened up about posting Venmo information so viewers can send a tip to her and her guests.
“At first I struggled with it, because I'm not doing any service. I'm in my pajamas on my floor!” she said. But with a series of canceled shows in March that took away hundreds of dollars in expected income, the tips were a big help.
“Not gonna lie, those first two streams actually saved me,” Falter said. “I had not a lot of money, and I got to eat with that.”
Like most performers, she’s anxious to get back to doing what she loves in front of a live audience, but she’s also learning new ways to share her talent.
“It's going to feel really good to hear a crowd laugh or clap. I can't wait to see how that energy affects me again. I'm going to be really grateful to be back on stage,” she said. “But also this online streaming is going to stick for some people. I'm having a great time. I like doing this three nights a week.”
To tune in, follow Amber on Instagram at @ambermariefalter