Comedy Hack Day 2015 San Francisco

COmedy Hack Day 2015 - San Francisco Comedy Hack Day, produced by Cultivated Wit is an event that pairs coders with comics in a 24-ish hour marathon of building something interesting and funny for the web.

I haven’t done any hard core coding since programming and Apple IIc in middle school.  And I could program that crap out of that little green screen too.

These days I’m limited to whatever I can drag and drop.  So I definitely went into this event as a comedian and nothing more.  And that was painfully obvious as I was the only person writing in a paper notebook as I was surrounded by Mac logos.

At the top of the event, nearly everyone got up and pitched a few ideas in 60 seconds.  I had a couple: An app that replaces all the good news in your Facebook feed with mildly bad news to make you feel better about your own life.  It’s called SchadenFace.  The other was an app that uses location technology to know when you’re in a bar after midnight.  If you try to use your phone you have to answer three questions.  Answer incorrectly and your ability to text, tweet, or post to Facebook is turned off for your safety.

I actually had a third idea too, but I might still develop that one. 🙂

After the parade of pitches, they sent us off to chaotically form teams.  Picking teams, I suppose was out of the question, I suppose.  This was a room full of nerds after all.  Bad “team picking” memories abound in a room like that.

Steve and Katie

Steve and Katie

I wasn’t married to my ideas enough to build a team around them. I was more interested in joining in on someone else’s idea.  So I got hooked up with Steve Malsam who had an idea for a site that tracks return policies and your purchases at different stores.  As we got to work, Katie Conforti jumped in to do design work for us.  My job, of course, was to make stuff funny.

I don’t get to work collaboratively with people very often these days being in a lone wolf art like comedy.  So it was nice to sit down and toss ideas around with people.

Nice people too.  It was a super competitive atmosphere like I thought it might be.  Everyone openly chatted about their projects and helped out others if needed.  A really good atmosphere and good bunch of people.

We worked until about midnight on the first evening on our project dubbed “Everything Free Forever”.  Then reconvened at 9am the next morning and worked until 6pm or so.  Sounds like a job, right?

One thing I did learn about myself is that I don’t think I could do that work on a daily basis.  I’m no stranger to sitting in front of a laptop for long periods of time, but this was a little much for me at times.

On Saturday night there were presentations from 22 teams and we were dead last on the list.  Watching 22 4-minute presentations is like watching 22 comics at an open mic.  It’s exhausting.  So by the time we got up the audience was pretty tired.  But they hung is as best as they could with us.

You can see our presentation below.  The sound is sketchy, but I hope you can make out what I’m saying in it.

We didn’t make the finals.  Of course, afterward I thought about plenty of ways we could have made the website and the presentation better.  But I had to remind myself that I really had nothing riding on this except a new experience and meeting some new people.  But my post-mortem brain processes kicked in pretty immediately at first. 🙂

Check out the video of our presentation…  Ideene Dehdashti was nice enough to film us.

It was definitely a cool experience and I met some great people.  Not sure whether I’ll do it again or not.  New adventures are always more fun than the ones I’ve had before.  But ya never know….

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