As of 2014, YouTube had on its site around 2 million cat videos, garnering in total some 25 billion views — so it’s a given that most everyone with access to the internet has, at one time or another, watched a video of cats doing what cats do.
“It’s a good escape from people’s day to day, just the onslaught of the bad news that we receive in our lives each day,” said Eric Dorris, the owner of the website CatVideos.com, which compiles its own library of feline frolicking. “Cat videos are a way to unplug for a moment.”
Dorris is trying to re-create that escape in a group setting with a touring show, “Cat Videos Live!,” which lands on its feet Wednesday night at 8:30 at the Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City.
Dorris said the tour’s first show, in mid-October in St. Louis, reassured him that the idea of showing cat videos to an audience was a good one.
“It really showed me I’m not alone in doing this. I’m not the only one with a crazy cat T-shirt,” Dorris said. “There’s a vibrant cat community out there.”
Dorris produces, directs and edits the compilations of clips in the show, which are broken into segments of between 5 and 9 minutes, with an emcee to comment on the clips and set up the next batch.
The commentary “is me being kooky and fun,” said Carla Rhodes, a New York-based comedian and ventriloquist who is the show’s emcee. “It depends on what’s in the clip. The show is going to morph as we go down the road.”
The clips aren’t just random videos of cats, though there’s plenty of that.
“There’s a cat giving hugs that gets an amazing response,” Rhodes said. “There’s some original cat-comedy stuff, created by some very clever comedy people.”
Some professionally produced clips feature animation or voiceovers or green-screen experiments, Dorris said. All of them are exclusive to his CatVideos.com and not available on YouTube.
“People are getting really creative,” he said.
There is one limit, though: “If any clip is submitted to us where the cat has been made to do something or is under stress, we will not air that,” Dorris said.
Dorris has partnered with two nonprofit groups — Panthera, which promotes conservation of the world’s big-cat species, and Friends For Life, a no-kill animal sanctuary in Houston — for the tour, and the show will feature a local animal-related group at each stop. In Salt Lake City, the show will give time to Tinker’s Cat Cafe, a soon-to-open Salt Lake City coffee shop with a separate room for customers to hang out with rescue cats.
Rhodes, who appeared very briefly this summer on the reboot of “The Gong Show,” said “Cat Videos Live!” is a great opportunity for cat lovers to “come out of the closet — or the litter box, I guess — with their cat-video obsession. … The world needs that right now, with everything going on.”