No heckling: Comedy Central to broadcast live comedy ad

TV channel Comedy Central will be broadcasting a live ad, challenging a quartet of improv-comedians to come up with some side-splitting material on the spot.

TV channel Comedy Central will be broadcasting a live ad, challenging a quartet of improv-comedians to come up with some side-splitting material on the spot. On Monday June 17, the 9.10pm commercial break will be taken over by the group from Mischief Theatre, who have to respond to a product from a ‘mystery’ brand – without an inkling of its nature in advance.

The one-off ad, which was conceived and is being created by ad agency 18 Feet & Rising, will see comedians Henry Lewis, Jonathan Burke, Dave Hearn and Nancy Wallinger improvising their skits in front of a live audience.

The three-minute ad will be broadcast through a live transmission from a central London venue, with advertising compliance service Clearcast on site to provide immediate approvals; it is also being trailed in the run-up to the event (see teaser clip below). The final TVC will then be edited into 20-second versions which will be broadcast over the rest of the year.

18 Feet & Rising has not produced this type of live ad before, and as Jonathan Trimble, CEO of the agency, admits, “It’s a real sink or swim moment”. “But we have confidence that it will pay off. It’s a risky strategy but ballsy campaigns create big impact, and the brand feels a right fit for such an outlandish concept.”

Beyond two blind rehearsals with Mischief, plus venue set-up and reccie days for cameras and lighting there is no additional preparation for the production, according to the agency – so for both comedians and 18 Feet & Rising, it’s sink or swim indeed.

Pink Floyd fans may recognise the cover of our June issue. It’s the original marked-up artwork for Dark Side of the Moon: one of a number of treasures from the archive of design studio Hipgnosis featured in the issue, along with an interview with Aubrey Powell, co-founder of Hipgnosis with the late, great Storm Thorgerson. Elsewhere in the issue we take a first look at The Purple Book: Symbolism and Sensuality in Contemporary Illustration, hear from the curators of a fascinating new V&A show conceived as a ‘walk-in book’ plus we have all the regular debate and analysis on the world of visual communications.

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