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Stand-Up Comedy

  • By: Ian Brodie
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Stand-up comedy is a conversational form of professional humorous talk that occurs on a stage in front of and directed toward a responsive audience. Although there is a clear demarcation between the performer and the audience, the two are in dialogue, and the audience collectively, albeit not uniformly, contributes to the performance through their reactions. Applause, booing, answers to questions, pregnant pauses, and—above all—laughter are key elements within the overall comedic performance, without which the text is fundamentally different. Key to the success of stand-up is the creation of a persona and a performed autobiography that helps situate the performer in relation to the audience and thus establish rapport despite sociocultural distances. With its growth since the 1960s and its pervasiveness through television, cable, ...

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