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Five ways to become the next video star

October 23, 2009 |  6:21 pm
Mike Polk, Break.com
Internet funny guy Mike Polk. Credit: Break Media.

So you want to be a video star?

If you performed at a real-life comedy club in Los Angeles in the last three months, you could have been spotted by Mike Polk, a producer for Break.com who was scouting for fresh talent. Instead of clicking through countless YouTube videos to find someone, Polk decided to venture into (gulp!) the real world and hit a few live stand-up shows.

Based in Beverly Hills, Break.com gets about 70 million unique visitors a month, mostly guys 18 to 34 years old, making it one of the leading humor sites out there. Partly owned by Lionsgate Entertainment, the site serves up video game trailers, photos and short Web videos about cream cheese as deodorant pranks and Hummers on a rampage. You know, guy stuff.

Polk, whose background is in creating viral videos including a video promoting tourism in Cleveland that got 1.6 million hits, has been combing L.A.'s comedy clubs for Break.com's next comedic star.

What was he looking for? And how are those traits different for online video personalities? In a recent interview, Polk gave us, in his own words, five criteria for online video stardom: 

1) Immediacy: There has to be something that grabs you right off the bat. The Internet is flooded with people who can get your attention quickly. We're looking for people who can be funny in a very short period of time.

2) Eye-catching thumbnail portrait: It's not about being attractive. It's about having presence and charisma. But online, you have to convey that on a picture about the size of a postage stamp. Thumbnails are incredibly important.

3) Versatility: There's a one-man-band nature of Internet videos. You have to be able to incorporate music, work your own camera and know how to edit video. There are so many comics who don't know how to do any of this.

4) Original persona: You need a concept of what you want to do and how you want to get that across. It has to be unique and original.

5) Likability: We want someone people would want to approach, someone who's not already a star or full of himself. He has to be able to laugh at himself.

There's one other criterion that Polk did not explicitly mention. But it's all here in Break.com's recruiting video. (Hint: You might want to bring an athletic cup to your audition.)

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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