Doubtsourcing: The Sitcom

I'd first heard about doubtsourcing, the comic strip, in a techcrunch writeup. I think all desis with a) an internet connection and b) a funnybone are well familiar with the output from Badmash and this latest offshoot from one of the core group members, Sandeep Sood, seemed to have hit the ground running. Then I stopped hearing about it and the website stopped responding (it's down as of the time this post was written).

What happened? I figured with the US recession going global and a rise in forecasts for the decline in outsourcing, perhaps Sandeep's strip itself had fallen victim to the ongoing trends.

I was wrong. I caught this ad on craigslist looking for voice talent:

Male Voice Actor needed for Animated Sitcom (berkeley) Reply to: [?] Date: 2008-12-01, 12:56PM PST is an animation studio working on its first animated sitcom, called Doubtsourcing.

We are looking for a voice actor to play the part of Jamie.

Further web hunting revealed a slew of such ads, a Sepia Mutiny comment:

As for the studio, we are working on an animated sitcom called Doubtsourcing (should have the pilot done in a few months)

and this interview:

His most visible success, though, has been the "Doubtsourcing" comic strip and it caught the attention of a venture firm in the Valley. His potential investors suggested that "Doubtsourcing" be developed into a full fledged animated series, a sort of The-Simpsons-meets-The-Office. With Badmash already making a foray into developing an animation studio in India, it seems like a natural progression.

I found the last part of the interview to be particularly interesting:

Where do you plan to air the show? Here in the US or in India?

SS: That is an open question. We are negotiating with a few different channels including the more mainstream ones like Warner. There’s also the option of bypassing TV altogether and going straight to the web.

The italics are mine. With pundits proclaiming online video to be the killer app this year (and my day gig reliant on that fact :-), the timing for a straight to internet play couldn't be more appropriate. The recent successful VC rounds of sites like funnyordie and jibjab show the interest in generating online original humor content. There are plenty of risks with this type of endeavour, however, particularly when relying on content to go viral. As Sandeep noted himself when commenting on another piece:

There’s a ‘Jib-Jab’ effect to these types of animations. Your first piece is totally fresh, delightfully amateurish, and funny as a result. Then, unless you come with something totally new, it’s hard to recapture the same buzz again.

This is something we’ve learned first hand at badmash - if you’re trying to be purely viral, you can’t ride the same idea or style for too long.

With the badmash crew leading the way in this space for the desi diaspora, it'll be fascinating to track their approach to promoting the latest incarnation of doubtsourcing, their revenue model and, most importantly, how well it catches on. Fingers crossed. One thing is true though: with fiascoes like Satyam's going on right now, there certainly won't be any lack of material or interest on this topic!

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- January 10, 2009 7:44 PM // Diaspora , Humour , Technology