published Friday, January 27th, 2012

Courter: Have you seen the latest bootleg video?

It's no great secret that the Internet has changed our lives, but for some reason the point was driven home over the last couple of weeks. One of the biggest areas of interest to me is the field of entertainment.

What the Internet has done to the music business is stunning in a lot of ways. The folks who once made money off of the ways things used to work probably are not thrilled by the changes, but for the consumer, the changes just seem so logical and natural.

It just seems right that when we want to hear a song or watch a video, we need only go to the nearest computer, smartphone, tablet or whatever and have it playing in seconds. The idea of hoping it turns up on the radio or calling in to request that it be played seems as logical as hitching up the horse and buggy and riding into town to order it from the Sears catalog.

There have always been people who like to be the first to discover something and share it with others. Every neighborhood had that guy who was the first to discover Cheech & Chong's Sister Mary Elephant. He was also likely the first to have the John Bean/Leroy Mercer bootleg cassette tape and the video of the preacher that was overdubbed with bodily function noises.

By the time I got a copy of that last tape, it had been dubbed so many times, the preacher looked like a ghost figure.

Compare that to last week when a co-worker sent me a link to two videos. The first featured five people playing one guitar singing a song called "Somebody That I Used To Know." The second was the video of the same song from the original artist, a guy named Gotye.

When the links were sent to me, about 8 million had watched the first video. As of Wednesday morning, just two weeks later, 37.5 million people had watched it. More than 50 million people have watched the original version.

Jeanne Robertson will be at the Tivoli next month doing a 90-minute comedy routine. Until about three years ago, the 68-year-old former college basketball player and Miss America contestant made a nice living telling funny stories at conventions, corporate meetings and to the motor-coach crowd.

That changed when she posted two of her speaking segments on YouTube. One of the segments is a fairly lengthy tale of sending her husband to the grocery store. The videos went viral, and someone from Nashville noticed.

These days, Robertson still does her speaking engagements, but she also reworks her routines a bit and can do 90 minutes as a standup comic.

"We put those videos on YouTube, and our lives changed," she said.

"We've always told our audiences that they could watch them for free online, but something changed. Now everybody is on the computer."

* * *

Comedian Rickey Smiley, who makes semi-regular stops here for shows, has been added to the WJTT-FM 94.3 lineup. The "Rickey Smiley Morning Show" can now be heard each weekday morning from 5 to 9 a.m.

Eric Foster will continue as the local host, with Smiley's jokes, commentary and character-driven bits mixed in.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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