How Engineers Build A Comedy Club - Part I: The Website

Performance in Cupertino, 12/10/2021.

Background. San Francisco Bay Area is never short of immigrants in the tech industry, but local entertainment does not cater so well to them. When it comes to comedy clubs, this scarcity gets particularly annoying, because humor doesn’t translate across languages.

The origin. In 2019, several engineers got fed up finding a stage for jokes written in their native language, so they founded their own. Chinese Comedy at Silicon Valley, alternatively known as guīgǔ tuōkǒuxiù, is (to my best knowledge) the first Chinese comedy club in town. It has served 100+ comedians so far and attracted 100K+ views online.

I joined. I started volunteering at this non-profit organization in early 2021, when the performances had been moved online in view of COVID-19. Obviously, watching stand-up comedies over Zoom wasn’t as engaging as physically sitting in the house. Attracting enough viewers was a top priority of the club.

Although we had been running a YouTube channel for a while back then, it wasn’t the best platform for conveying event schedules and soliciting feedback. We decided to make a website.

The first edition was a single-page landing page that I hand-written in HTML. To make things look less unfinished, I added just one line of code:

It applies a stylesheet called mvp.css, which conveniently turns a brutalist webpage minimalist:

ggtkx.org, first edition.

Audience engagement is one thing, and comedian retention is another. We decided to list our performers on the website, recognizing their efforts and contributions.

With this overhaul, I employed Jekyll, a static site generator. This enables me to reuse components across the landing page and the comedian list. The website is available at ggtkx.org.

I used open-source designs and arts as much as possible. This second edition uses the Serif theme by Robert Austin. The “mic drop” illustration comes from an artwork collection, unDraw, by Katerina Limpitsouni. We can’t risk colliding with someone else’s logo, though, so we hired someone for a vibrant typographical design. It’s also available as an SVG here.

ggtkx.org, second and current edition.

Volunteering at another Chinese organization, I took the idea of reuse one step further, and adapted ggtkx.org to zgzg.io, home to ZaiGeZaiGu Community. I’ll save the story for another time, though.

zgzg.io, as of 08/19/2021.

In the next part, I will talk about our publishing pipeline. It will include how performances are recorded, how clips gets uploaded, how we rank comedians by numbers of performance, and several new ranking methods we are experimenting with.

If you find this topic of building a comedy club in an engineered way to be interesting, follow my blog and stay tuned!

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Tech writer with creative analogies. Website: https://myli.page | Donate: https://ko-fi.com/mingyli

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