While stand-up comedy dates back to ancient Greece, it has evolved dramatically in recent years. While talk shows have long been a staple of popular entertainment, some stand-ups have found new outlets through television. Bo Burnham and “This Is Not Happening” are unconventional comedic delivery. Comedy Central is also known for its focus on traditional stand-up. Other popular television shows include Saturday Night Live and “Larry King Life,” where comics develop skits and short routines.
Lenny Bruce was the first stand-up comic to deliver biting social commentary.
As the first stand-up comedian to deliver biting social commentary, Bruce pushed the boundaries of public discourse. While Mort Sahl and Mort Dekker made essential contributions to the development of biting comedy, Bruce was genuinely provocative. His shows grew so graphic that the police were monitoring them, and he was banned from performing on television. His debauchery also led to legal issues, and he passed away in 1966. However, his legacy continues to live on in the form of cult-status comics that came of age in the late ’60s.
In the 1950s, a young Lenny Bruce broke the mold of stand-up comedy by delivering his biting social commentary in a free-form style. He used the opportunity to poke fun at traditional Middle-American customs and religion. While his act was rehearsed meticulously, he still managed to create a sense of spontaneity that attracted a crowd. His show was rife with jokes, storytelling, and an uncanny ability to ramble.
In 1959, Bruce began pushing the boundaries of acceptable speech when he poked fun at the Jewish community. He made light of the practice of sniffing glue and a Jewish actress for studying Judaism. In October 1961, he was arrested for obscenity and barred from entering London. In 1964, he was arrested again and sentenced to four months in jail.
After his death, Bruce’s influence continued to influence stand-up comedy. Before he passed away, he published an autobiography called The Essential Lenny Bruce, which included collected comedy routines. His widow, Kitty Bruce, compiled a book of his memorabilia. The book was published in 1984. An HBO documentary starring Bruce was produced in 1998.
Though he was considered an adult act in his time, Bruce achieved high recognition in his hometown of Mineola, New York. Bruce had a cult following within a year of his debut at Carnegie Hall. His jokes often skewered sexual fantasies, Judeo-Christian beliefs, and America’s deep-seated racial tensions. Even though many considered his material offensive, his message remained effective.
In the late 1950s, Bruce began performing in burlesque clubs and strip houses and was even arrested for impersonating famous actors. His cult appeal gained him a loyal following, and he became one of the most successful comics of all time. In 1957, Bruce and Harlowe divorced, and his comedy career was on the rise.
The resulting controversy forced the comedian to hire two prominent First Amendment attorneys. Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal were significant witnesses in the case, and a conservative New York newspaper columnist testified against Bruce. Their testimony suggested that Bruce performed simulated on-stage masturbation. The prosecution presented audio recordings of his shows, and undercover cops reenacted portions of his routines.
Mort Sahl delivered biting commentary on the political leaders, popular culture, and pillars of respectability of American society.
Born in New Orleans, Mort Sahl grew up in Los Angeles, where he worked in radio and local television. His obsession with the Kennedy assassination led him to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy and read excerpts of the Warren Commission report. He even worked for an unpaid investigator, Jim Garrison, claiming to have secret evidence pointing to the government’s involvement. He was adamant that Oswald was guilty of assassination and spent years traveling the country interviewing witnesses and researching evidence.
Despite his biting humor, Sahl never lost his audience, delivering sharp, witty commentary on the pillars of American society throughout its history. While he initially avoided political commentary, his popularity gradually grew. He began to twit politicians and other leaders. He called Eisenhower “dull” and McCarthy “addicted” for having the “right to speak.” He started to appear in newspaper columns, and he won the stamp of approval from Herb Caen.
The late Mort Sahl was married four times. His first marriage was to Ms. Babior. His second marriage was to China Lee, the first Asian American model to appear on a Playboy centerfold. Both marriages ended in divorce. His second marriage to China Lee produced a son, Mort Sahl Jr., who died in 1996 of a drug overdose.
In addition to a career spanning decades, Mort was a true innovator in the comics industry. His work paved the way for countless other comics to follow. Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor were some of his protégés. In 1960, Sahl made history by appearing on the cover of Time magazine. His first comedy album, Mort Sahl at the Hungry, hit the Billboard 200 chart at No. 22. He later reached No—145 on the same chart in 1973.
Mort Sahl continued to appear as a comic after the Warren Commission report. He took the information on stage, criticized the Warren Commission, and brought it to his audience. Although Mort was serious about the cause of the Kennedy assassination, his approach was lighthearted and honest. This was one of an American comedian’s most insightful and entertaining books.
Social media is a kind of engine for stimulating new comedy.
In many ways, social media has helped fuel the growth of new stand-up comedy. Its immediacy allows for broader exposure for comedians and organic recommendations of new comics. Moreover, social media enable new comedians to find work, which can help boost morale quickly. It also puts comedians at greater risk of scandals. As such, comedians should be mindful of using social media to promote their shows and develop their profiles.
The problem with social media is that jokes are subject to different appraisals. Unlike a live audience, social media users are not present, so tricks are often rated based on political correctness. Anybody can object to a joke, turning the comedy into a source of manufactured outrage. However, this does not mean that stand-up comedy cannot survive in the new environment. The BBC’s Shane Allen has pointed out the problems with online stand-up comedy.
How do I create a stand-up comic routine? Here are a few things to consider. While it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about yourself and your life, you need to expand the topics you cover. Don’t make jokes about strangers because audiences will grow bored of hearing about you. To avoid overindulgence, relate incidents you’ve had to others or yourself to help develop character.
Write setups and punchlines.
Stand-up comedians have two main parts of their routine: the setup and punchline. In the first part of the routine, the punchline is a twist that takes the form to a new level and then reveals a surprising revelation. The second part of the routine is the setup, and if the design is good, the punchline should follow it. An excellent stand-up comedy routine should be as long as possible, but shorter bits can still have multiple punchlines.
When writing your stand-up comedy routine, you must make sure that you register your punchlines and setups with your audience in mind. Depending on the audience, you may need to modify your joke to make it more applicable to them. It is also essential to write a mark relevant to their age group and situation. Once you know your audience, it is much easier to write jokes with an appropriate level of sophistication.
Writing your setups and punchlines for stand-up comedy can be tricky. It is vital to understand what works and what doesn’t, especially when it comes to newcomers. A bad joke can ruin the rest of the set. For this reason, you should learn to write effective one-liners. By following these guidelines, you will be able to get the laughs you need and impress your audience.
Write up as many jokes as possible and organize them based on style, content, and hilarity. Be aware of when you have the opportunity to turn a joke into a callback or a story. For example, you could use an anecdote that is not only funny but also relatable. Regardless of your choice of jokes, remember that it’s crucial to practice in front of an audience.
After writing a setup, write the punchline. The punchline is the funniest part of the joke, and it shatters the decoy assumption of the form. The writer might consider an extreme topic during the design, like a grandfather driving a car when he died or a child dying peacefully in bed. You’ll be able to determine the proper setup by practicing in front of an audience.
Edit your routine
Before performing a stand-up comedy routine, it is essential to take some time to edit your material. Stand-up comedy sets run for five minutes, so you must make your material funny and concise. Although it is tempting to keep material, it may not be funny or work well if not well edited. Make sure that you have enough time for audience laughter and improvisation. Here are some tips for editing your stand-up comedy routine:
First, practice your material as much as possible. Record your stand-up to hear yourself and any mistakes you may make. You can also make notes of unnecessary words or sentences. You should also run your material by an impartial friend who will give you their honest opinion. You may have different tastes and need another opinion. Whether the joke is funny, ask an objective audience member to listen to it and give feedback.
Secondly, don’t overindulge yourself. While talking about yourself is fine, it is essential to broaden the topics you choose to talk about. Your audience will grow tired of hearing about random strangers. Instead, relate incidents that happened to you to build your character. You don’t want to bore them. If you’re unsure about the topics that will work best for you, consult a professional comedian.
Third, order your jokes logically. Don’t make the audience wait until the very end of your routine to find a laugh. And always have backup jokes ready. Finally, remember that stand-up comedy is all about storytelling, and it’s essential to think of your act as one big piece. By the end of the night, your audience will be laughing so hard they’ll forget about the jokes they just read.
Find your “voice.”
There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to stand-up comedy. It requires constant practice and improvement, and finding your unique voice is critical. The more you practice, the more natural your material will be. So, how do you find your agent? Here are some tips:
Firstly, make sure your material speaks to you. Whether it’s a song, a book, or a movie, make sure your material reflects who you are and what you’re trying to say. If you feel like your material is too self-indulgent or unauthentic, adjusting your character is OK. And, of course, you should also listen to feedback from your audience.
The next step is to figure out what kind of comic you are. Do you want to be an intelligent satirist or a witty, sarcastic comedian? Or are you more of a streetwise comic? There are many different types of comedians, and it’s essential to find one that plays to your unique strengths. But, remember, it’s not easy to find your voice and come across on stage!
Once you’ve got your material, you can begin writing bits and assign them a keyword-relevant to the joke. This will serve as a trigger on stage for your audience. Try out different combinations of words and phrases to create a cohesive stand-up routine. Once you’ve found the words and phrases that work best together, you’ll be able to perform your material. So, practice makes perfect! If you’re a beginner, keep practicing until you find the words and phrases that work.
As for the content itself, you should try practicing your stand-up material a few times before performing it for real. You can also record yourself performing your routine, which will help you identify any mistakes you might have made. While it’s OK to talk about yourself, try to expand your topics so that you can please your audience without boring them. Aim to avoid talking about yourself too much; your audience will tire of your material in no time.
Record your routine
It’s essential to record every single performance you do. This way, you can see how different material affects your audience’s reaction. It’s also easy to see what material works best for audience demographics. If you’re trying to sell your material to a broader demographic, make sure it’s something that will appeal to a variety of demographics. Here are some tips for recording your stand-up comedy routine.
First, record yourself. Comedy is a live event, and you perform in front of a different audience every night. You must make sure you capture every performance with audio or video recordings. Recording yourself is the best way to ensure you don’t miss a single moment. Once you’ve registered your routine, you’ll be able to compare it against your previous shows to find what needs improvement. You’ll have an easier time spotting flaws and addressing them.
Lastly, you can record yourself laughing and rehearsing to perfect your delivery. You can also practice your material on the internet and among comedy groups on social media. You can also attend a few shows and record yourself reading jokes aloud to get feedback on your material. If you’re not comfortable with your material, consider asking a friend to listen to it. They might be able to offer a fresh perspective.
Performing stand-up comedy takes time to develop. Like any other art form, comedy requires practice. No one comes out as a finished product on day one. You need to get feedback from your first gigs and keep the material that works. Throw out the material that doesn’t work. Find the right balance between material that makes you laugh and the words that work for you. Ultimately, you want to reach as many people as possible.