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A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to
entertain
entertain
an
audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a , (in which they are called "readers"), , (in which they are called "listeners"), (in which they are called "players"), or academics in any medium. Audience members p ...

audience
by making them
laugh Laughter is a Pleasure, pleasant physical reaction consisting usually of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the Thoracic diaphragm, diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system. It is a response to certain external or internal Stimulu ...

laugh
. This might be through
joke A joke is a display of humour in which words are used within a specific and well-defined narrative structure to make people laughter, laugh and is usually not meant to be taken seriously. It takes the form of a story, usually with dialogue, a ...
s or
amusing 300px, ''Amusement'', by Viktor Vasnetsov Amusement, from the old French ''à muser'' – to put into a stupid stare, is the state of experiencing humorous and entertaining events or situations while the person or animal actively maintains t ...
situations, or acting foolish (as in
slapstick Slapstick is a style of humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, wh ...

slapstick
), or employing
prop comedy Prop comedy is a comedy genre in which performers use humorous objects, or conventional objects in humorous ways. The stages and films term "Theatrical properties, prop", an abbreviation of "property", refers to any object an actor handles in the c ...
. A comedian who addresses an audience directly is called a
stand-up comedian Stand-up comedy is a comedy Performing arts, performance and narration, narrative craft whereby a comedian Communication, communicates to a live audience, Fourth wall, speaking directly to them through a microphone. The performer is commonly know ...
. A popular saying, variously quoted but generally attributed to
Ed Wynn Isaiah Edwin Leopold (November 9, 1886 – June 19, 1966), better known as Ed Wynn, was an American actor and comedian, noted for his ''Perfect Fool'' comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic ...
, is, "A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny," which draws a distinction between how much of the
comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic la ...
can be attributed to verbal content and how much to acting and persona. Since the 1980s, a new wave of comedy, called
alternative comedy Alternative comedy is a term coined in the 1980s for a style of comedy that makes a conscious break with the mainstream comedic style of an era. The phrase has had different connotations in different contexts: in the UK, it was used to describe c ...
, has grown in popularity with its more offbeat and experimental style. This normally involves more experiential, or observational reporting, e.g.
Alexei Sayle Alexei David Sayle (born 7 August 1952) is an English stand-up comedian Stand-up comedy is a comedy Performing arts, performance and narration, narrative craft whereby a comedian Communication, communicates to a live audience, Fourth wall, sp ...
,
Daniel Tosh Daniel Dwight Tosh (born May 29, 1975) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commo ...

Daniel Tosh
and
Malcolm Hardee Malcolm Hardee (5 January 1950 – 31 January 2005) was an English comedian, author, comedy club A comedy club is a venue—typically a nightclub, bar (establishment), bar, hotel, casino, or restaurant—where people watch or listen to performan ...
. As far as content is concerned, comedians such as
Tommy Tiernan Tommy Tiernan (; born 16 June 1969) is an Irish comedian, actor, and writer. He is best known for hosting '' The Tommy Tiernan Show'' (2017–present) and playing Gerry in the sitcom ''Derry Girls'' (2018–present). Early life Tiernan was born ...
,
Des Bishop Desmond Bishop (born 12 November 1975) is an Irish-American comedian. He was brought up in New York and moved to Ireland at the age of 14. He primarily resides there. Approach to comedy Bishop's comedy has covered social issues, such as poverty. ...

Des Bishop
,
Kevin Hart Kevin Darnell Hart (born July 6, 1979) is an American stand-up comedian and actor. Born and raised in Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most po ...
and
Dawn French Dawn Roma French (born 11 October 1957) is a British actress, comedian, presenter and writer. French is known for writing and starring on the BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at ...

Dawn French
draw on their background to poke fun at themselves, while others such as
Jon Stewart Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz; November 28, 1962) is an American comedian, writer, producer, director, political commentator, actor, and television host. He hosted ''The Daily Show'', a news satire, satirical news program on Comed ...
, and
Ben Elton Benjamin Charles Elton (born 3 May 1959) is a British comedian, television writer, actor, author, playwright, television producer, screenwriter, film director, lyricist, stage director, and television director. He was a part of London's alternati ...
have very strong political and cultural undertones. Many comics achieve a
cult following A cult following refers to a group of fans Fan commonly refers to: * Fan (machine) Sounds from a household fan. A fan is a powered machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perfor ...
while touring famous comedy hubs such as the
Just for Laughs Just for Laughs (french: Juste pour rire) is a comedy festival held each July in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1983, it is the largest international comedy festival in the world. It also serves as a television division. History Image: ...
festival in
Montreal Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, ) is the second-most populous city in Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of . Its extend from the to the and northward into the , covering , making it the world's . Its southern and w ...

Montreal
, the
Edinburgh Fringe The Edinburgh Festival Fringe (also referred to as The Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe, or Edinburgh Fringe Festival) is the world's largest arts festival, which in 2018 spanned 25 days and featured more than 55,000 performances of 3,548 different sho ...
, and
Melbourne Comedy Festival The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) is the largest stand-alone comedy festival and the second-largest international comedy festival in the world. Established in 1987, it takes place annually in Melbourne over four weeks, typically ...
in
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. Often a comic's career advances significantly when they win a notable comedy award, such as the
Edinburgh Comedy Award The Dave (TV channel), Dave's Edinburgh Comedy Awards (formerly the Perrier Comedy Awards, and also briefly known by other names for sponsorship reasons) are presented to the comedy shows deemed to have been the best at the Edinburgh Festival Fr ...
(formerly the Perrier comedy award). Comics sometimes foray into other areas of entertainment, such as film and television, where they become more widely known; e.g.,
Eddie Izzard Eddie Izzard (; born 7 February 1962) is an English stand-up comedian Stand-up comedy is a comedy Performing arts, performance and narration, narrative craft whereby a comedian Communication, communicates to a live audience, Fourth wall, s ...
or Lee Evans. However, a comic's stand-up success does not guarantee a film's critical or box-office success.


History


Ancient Greeks

Comedians can be dated back to 425 BC, when
Aristophanes Aristophanes (; grc, Ἀριστοφάνης, ; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme 250px, Pinakia, identification tablets (name, father's name, deme) used for tasks like jury selection, Museum at the Ancient Agora of Athe ...

Aristophanes
, a comic author, and playwright, wrote ancient comedic plays. He wrote 40 comedies, 11 of which survive and are still being performed. Aristophanes' comedy style took the form of
satyr plays The satyr play is a form of Attica, Attic theatre performance related to both comedy and tragedy. It preserves theatrical elements of dialogue, actors speaking verse, a chorus that dances and sings, masks and costumes. Its relationship to tragedy ...
.


Shakespearean comedy

The English poet and playwright
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

William Shakespeare
wrote many comedies. A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a happy ending, usually involving marriages between the unmarried characters, and a tone and style that is more light-hearted than Shakespeare's other plays.


Modern era

Modern
standup comedy Stand-up comedy is a comedy Performing arts, performance and narration, narrative craft whereby a comedian Communication, communicates to a live audience, Fourth wall, speaking directly to them through a microphone. The performer is commonly know ...

standup comedy
has its roots in the United Kingdom in 1850
music hall Music hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they opera ...

music hall
theatres, where
Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, the Tramp, and is consider ...

Charlie Chaplin
,
Stan Laurel Stan Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson; 16 June 1890 – 23 February 1965) was an English comic actor, writer, and film director who was part of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo A double act (also k ...
, and
Dan Leno George Wild Galvin (20 December 1860 – 31 October 1904), better known by the stage name Dan Leno, was a leading English music hall comedian and musical theatre actor during the late Victorian era. He was best known, aside from his music hall a ...

Dan Leno
first performed, mentored by comedian and theatre impresario
Fred Karno Frederick John Westcott (26 March 1866 – 17 September 1941), best known by his stage name Fred Karno, was an English theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, ac ...

Fred Karno
, who developed a form of sketch comedy without dialogue in the 1890s and also pioneered
slapstick comedy Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity that exceeds the boundaries of normal physical comedy. Slapstick may involve both intentional violence and violence by mishap, often resulting from inept use of props such a ...
.McCabe, John. "Comedy World of Stan Laurel". p. 143. London: Robson Books, 2005, First edition 1975 American standup emerged in the corresponding
vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a of born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a dramatic composition or light poetry, mixed with songs or b ...
theatre from the 1880s to the 1930s, with such comics as W. C. Fields,
Buster Keaton Joseph Frank Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966), known professionally as Buster Keaton, was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the Unit ...

Buster Keaton
and the
Marx Brothers The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a of born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions ...
.


Media

In the modern era, as technology produced forms of mass communications media, these were adapted to entertainment and comedians adapted to the new media, sometimes switching to new forms as they were introduced.


Stand-up

Stand-up comedy is a comic
monologue In theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage ...
performed standing on a stage.
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American British American usually refers to Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nati ...

Bob Hope
became the most popular stand-up comedian of the 20th century in a nearly 80-year career that included numerous
comedy film A comedy film is a category of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, c ...
roles over a five-decade span in radio, television, and entertaining armed-service troops through the
USO The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is an American nonprofit-charitable corporation that provides live entertainment, such as comedians, actors and musicians, social facilities, and other programs to members of the United States Armed Fo ...

USO
. Other noted stand-up comedians include
Billy Connolly Sir William Connolly (born 24 November 1942) is a Scottish former comedian A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art ...

Billy Connolly
,
George Carlin George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American stand-up comedy, stand-up comedian, actor, social critic, and author. Regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comics of all time, he was dubbed " ...
,
Richard Pryor Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor (December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005) was an American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style, and is widely regarded ...
,
Victoria Wood Victoria Wood (19 May 1953 – 20 April 2016) was an English comedian, actress, lyricist, singer, composer, pianist, screenwriter, producer and director. Wood wrote and starred in dozens of sketches, plays, musicals, films and sitcoms ove ...

Victoria Wood
,
Joan Rivers Joan Alexandra Molinsky (June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014), known professionally as Joan Rivers, was an American comedian, actress, writer, producer, and television host. She was noted for her often controversial comedic persona—heavily sel ...

Joan Rivers
,
Whoopi Goldberg Caryn Elaine Johnson (born November 13, 1955), known professionally as Whoopi Goldberg (), is an American actor, author, comedian,\ and television personality.Kuchwara, Michael (AP Drama Writer)"Whoopi Goldberg: A One-Woman Character Parade" ''Th ...
,
Patton Oswalt Patton Peter Oswalt (born January 27, 1969) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and screenwriter. He starred as Spence Olchin ''The King of Queens'' is an American sitcom A sitcom, Clipping (morphology), clipping for situational comed ...

Patton Oswalt
and
Jo Brand Josephine Grace Brand (born 23 July 1957) is an English comedian, writer, presenter and actor. Starting her entertainment career with a move from Psychiatric and mental health nursing, psychiatric nursing to the alternative comedy stand-up scene ...
.


Audio recording

Some of the earliest commercial sound recordings were made by standup comedians such as
Cal Stewart Cal Stewart as Uncle Josh Weathersby, circa 1900 Cal Stewart (b. 1856 Charlotte County, Virginia, d. December 7, 1919) was an American comedian and humorist who pioneered in vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a theatrical genre of variety ente ...

Cal Stewart
, who recorded collections of his humorous monologues on
Edison Records Edison Records was one of the early record labels that pioneered sound recording and reproduction In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'natur ...
as early as 1898, and other labels until his death in 1919. Bandleader
Spike Jones Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones (December 14, 1911 – May 1, 1965) was an American musician and bandleader specializing in spoof arrangements of popular songs and classical music. Ballads receiving the Jones treatment were punctuated with guns ...

Spike Jones
recorded 15 musical comedy
album An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), Phonograph record, vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded sound were developed in the early 20th century as individual Phonograph rec ...

album
s satirizing popular and
classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various s, s and , depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of , , and ...

classical music
from 1950 to his death in 1965.
Tom Lehrer Thomas Andrew Lehrer (; born April 9, 1928) is a retired American musician, singer-songwriter, satirist This is an incomplete list of writers, cartoonists and others known for involvement in satire Satire is a genre Genre () is any ...
wrote and recorded five albums of songs satirizing political and social issues from 1953 to 1965. Musician
Peter Schickele Peter Schickele (; born July 17, 1935) is an American composer, musical educator, and parodist, best known for comedy albums featuring his music, but which he presents as being composed by the fictional P. D. Q. Bach. He also hosted a long-runni ...

Peter Schickele
, inspired by Jones, parodied
classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various s, s and , depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of , , and ...

classical music
with 17 albums of his music which he presented as written by "
P.D.Q. Bach P. D. Q. Bach is a fictional composer invented by the American musical satirist This is an incomplete list of writers, cartoonists and others known for involvement in satire Satire is a genre of the visual arts, visual, literature, liter ...
" (fictional son of
Johann Sebastian Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque music, Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites (Bach), Cello Suites and ''Brandenburg Concertos''; keyboard ...

Johann Sebastian Bach
) from 1965 through 2007. In 1968, radio
surreal comedy Surreal humour (also known as absurdist humour or surreal comedy) is a form of humour predicated on deliberate violations of causality, causal reasoning, producing events and behaviours that are obviously illogical. Constructions of surreal humour ...
group
The Firesign Theatre The Firesign Theatre (also known as the Firesigns) was an American surreal humour, surreal comedy troupe who first appeared on November 17, 1966, in a live performance on the Los Angeles radio program ''Radio Free Oz'' on station KPFK FM broadc ...
revolutionized the concept of the spoken comedy album by writing and recording elaborate radio plays employing
sound effects Voice saying "Ja", followed by the same recording with a massive digital reverb A sound effect (or audio effect) is an artificially created or enhanced sound, or sound process used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television s ...
and
multitrack recording Multitrack recording (MTR), also known as multitracking or tracking, is a method of sound recording Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and mo ...
, which comedian
Robin Williams Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisation Improvisation is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Impro ...

Robin Williams
called "the audio equivalent of a
Hieronymous Bosch Hieronymus Bosch (, ; born Jheronimus van Aken ;  – 9 August 1516) was a Dutch people, Dutch/Netherlandish painter from Duchy of Brabant, Brabant. He is one of the most notable representatives of the Early Netherlandish painting school. ...
painting." Comedy duo
Cheech and Chong Cheech & Chong are a comedy duo A double act (also known as a comedy duo) is a form of comedy originating in the British music hall tradition, and American vaudeville, in which two comedians perform together as a single act. Pairings are typic ...
recorded comedy albums in a similar format from 1971 through 1985.


Film

Karno took Chaplin and Laurel on two trips to the United States to tour the vaudeville circuit. On the second one, they were recruited by the fledgling
silent film A silent film is a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or oth ...

silent film
industry. Chaplin became the most popular screen comedian of the first half of the 20th century. Chaplin and
Stan Laurel Stan Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson; 16 June 1890 – 23 February 1965) was an English comic actor, writer, and film director who was part of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo A double act (also k ...
were protégés of
Fred Karno Frederick John Westcott (26 March 1866 – 17 September 1941), best known by his stage name Fred Karno, was an English theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, ac ...

Fred Karno
, the English theatre impresario of British
music hall Music hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they opera ...

music hall
, and in his biography Laurel stated, "Fred Karno didn't teach Charlie haplinand me all we know about comedy. He just taught us most of it". Chaplin wrote films such as ''
Modern TimesModern Times may refer to modern history. Modern Times may also refer to: Music * Modern Times (band), a band from Luxembourg * Modern Times (Al Stewart album), ''Modern Times'' (Al Stewart album), a 1975 album by Al Stewart * Modern Times (Bob Dy ...
'' and '' The Kid''. His films still have a major impact on comedy in films today. Laurel met
Oliver Hardy Oliver Norvell Hardy (born Norvell Hardy; January 18, 1892 – August 7, 1957) was an American comic actor and one half of Laurel and Hardy, the double act that began in the era of silent films and lasted from 1927 to 1955. He appeared with his c ...
in the US and teamed up as
Laurel and Hardy Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo A double act (also known as a comedy duo) is a form of comedy originating in the British music hall tradition, and American vaudeville, in which two comedians perform together as a single act. Pairings are ...

Laurel and Hardy
. Keaton also started making silent comedies. Fields appeared in Broadway
musical comedies Musical theatre is a form of theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience ...
, three silent films in 1915 and 1925, and in
sound film A sound film is a motion picture with synchronization, synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decad ...
s starting in 1926. The Marx brothers also made the transition to film in 1929, by way of two Broadway musicals. Many other comedians made sound films, such as Bob Hope (both alone, and in a series of " Road to ..." comedies with partner
Bing Crosby Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby Jr. (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer, comedian and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He was a leader ...

Bing Crosby
),
ventriloquist Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, is a performance act of stagecraft in which a person (a ventriloquist) creates the illusion that their voice is coming from elsewhere, usually a puppeteered prop known as a "dummy". The act of ventriloquism is ve ...
Edgar Bergen Edgar John Bergen (born Edgar John Berggren; February 16, 1903 – September 30, 1978) was an American actor, comedian, vaudevillian and radio performer, best known for his proficiency in ventriloquism Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, ...
, and
Jerry Lewis Jerry Lewis (born Joseph Levitch; March 16, 1926 – August 20, 2017) was an American comedian, actor, filmmaker, humanitarian and singer. Nicknamed "The King of Comedy", he is regarded as one of the most significant American cultural figu ...

Jerry Lewis
(both with and without partner
Dean Martin Dean Martin (born Dino Paul Crocetti; June 7, 1917 – December 25, 1995) was an American singer, actor and comedian of Italian descent. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed ...
). Some comedians who entered film expanded their acting skills to become dramatic actors, or started as actors specializing in comic roles, such as
Dick Van Dyke Richard Wayne Van Dyke (born December 13, 1925) is an American actor, comedian, writer, singer, and dancer, whose award-winning career has spanned seven decades. Van Dyke first gained recognition on radio and Broadway theatre, Broadway, then be ...

Dick Van Dyke
,
Paul Lynde Paul Edward Lynde (; June 13, 1926January 10, 1982) was an American comedian, voice artist Voice acting is the art of performing voice-over Voice-over (also known as off-camera or off-stage commentary) is a production technique where a ...
,
Michael Keaton Michael John Douglas (born September 5, 1951), known professionally as Michael Keaton, is an American actor. He is best known for portraying the DC Comics superhero Bruce Wayne (1989 film series character), Bruce Wayne / Batman in the superhero ...

Michael Keaton
,
Bill Murray William James Murray (born September 21, 1950) is an American actor, comedian and writer. Known for his deadpan delivery, he first rose to fame on ''Saturday Night Live ''Saturday Night Live'' (also known simply as ''SNL'') is an America ...

Bill Murray
and
Denis Leary Denis Colin Leary (born August 18, 1957) is an American actor, comedian, producer, and writer. A native of Massachusetts, Leary first came to prominence as a stand-up comedian Stand-up comedy is a comedy Performing arts, performance and narr ...

Denis Leary
.


Radio

Radio comedy began in the United States when Raymond Knight launched ''
The Cuckoo Hour 100px, Raymond Knight on ''The Cuckoo Hour'' in 1931. ''The Cuckoo Hour '', also known as ''The KUKU Hour'' and ''The Raymond Knight Cuckoo Hour'', is an American musical variety radio series created by radio comedian Raymond Knight. It aired on ...
'' on
NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), c ...
in 1930,Hickerson, Jay. ''The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide to All Circulating Shows''. Hamden, Connecticut: Jay Hickerson, Box 4321, Hamden, CT 06514, second edition December 1992, page 92. along with the 1931 network debut of
Stoopnagle and Budd Stoopnagle and Budd were a popular radio comedy team of the 1930s, who are sometimes cited as forerunners of the Bob and Ray Bob and Ray were an American comedy duo A double act (also known as a comedy duo) is a form of comedy originating in ...
on
CBS CBS is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S ...

CBS
. Most of the Hollywood comedians who did not become dramatic actors (e.g. Bergen, Fields, and
Chico Marx Leonard Joseph "Chico" Marx (; March 22, 1887 – October 11, 1961) was an American comedian, musician, and actor. He was a member of the Marx Brothers The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville ...

Chico Marx
,
Red Skelton Richard Red Skelton (July 18, 1913September 17, 1997) was an American entertainer best known for his national old-time radio, radio and television shows between 1937 and 1971, especially as host of the television program ''The Red Skelton Show' ...

Red Skelton
,
Jack Benny Benjamin Kubelsky (February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974), known professionally as Jack Benny, was an American entertainer, who evolved from a modest success playing violin on the vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a of born in France at th ...
,
Fred Allen John Florence Sullivan (May 31, 1894 – March 17, 1956), known professionally as Fred Allen, was an American comedian. His absurdist, topically pointed radio program ''The Fred Allen Show ''The Fred Allen Show'' was a popular and long-running ...

Fred Allen
,
Judy Canova Judy Canova (November 20, 1913 – August 5, 1983),Although one source gives her birth date as November 20, 1916, (DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). ''Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960''. McFarland & ...
, Hope,
Martin and Lewis Martin and Lewis were an American comedy duo A double act (also known as a comedy duo) is a form of comedy originating in the British music hall tradition, and American vaudeville, in which two comedians perform together as a single act. Pairin ...
), transitioned to United States radio in the 1930s and 1940s. Without a Hollywood supply of comedians to draw from, radio comedy did not begin in the United Kingdom until a generation later, with such popular 1950s shows as ''
The Goon Show ''The Goon Show'' is a British radio comedy programme, originally produced and broadcast by the BBC Home Service from 1951 to 1960, with occasional repeats on the BBC Light Programme The BBC Light Programme was a BBC radio station which ...
'' and ''
Hancock's Half Hour ''Hancock's Half Hour'' was a BBC radio comedy, and later television comedy series, broadcast from 1954 to 1961 and written by Galton and Simpson, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. The series starred Tony Hancock, with Sid James, Sidney James; the ra ...
''. Later, radio became a proving-ground for many later United Kingdom comedians.
Chris MorrisChris or Christopher Morris may refer to: Sportspeople * Chris Morris (footballer) (born 1963), former professional footballer who played for the Republic of Ireland * Chris Morris (basketball) (born 1966), retired American basketball player * Chri ...
began his career in 1986 at , and
Ricky Gervais Ricky Dene Gervais ( ; born 25 June 1961) is an English comedian, actor, director and writer. He is best known for co-creating, co-writing and acting in the British television mockumentary A mockumentary (a Blend word, blend of ''mock'' and ...
began his comedy career in 1997 at
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
radio station
XFM Radio X is a British National commercial radio Commercial broadcasting (also called private broadcasting) is the broadcasting Broadcasting is the distribution of sound, audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic me ...
. ''
The League of Gentlemen ''The League of Gentlemen'' is a surreal British comedy horror sitcom that premiered on BBC Two in 1999. The programme is set in Royston Vasey, a fictional town in northern England, originally based on Alston, Cumbria, and follows the lives o ...
'',
Mitchell and Webb Mitchell and Webb are a British comedy Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction consisting of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially i ...
and
The Mighty Boosh The Mighty Boosh is a British comedy troupe featuring comedians Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding. Developed from three stage shows and a six-episode The Boosh (radio series), radio series, it has since spanned a total of 20 television episodes ...
all transferred to television after broadcasting on
BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 4 is a British national radio station owned and operated by the BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the c ...

BBC Radio 4
.


Television

On television there are comedy talk shows where comedians make fun of current news or popular topics. Such comedians include
Jay Leno James Douglas Muir Leno (; born April 28, 1950) is an American television host, comedian, and writer. After doing stand-up comedy for years, he became the host of NBC's ''The Tonight Show with Jay Leno'' from 1992 to 2009. Beginning in Septemb ...

Jay Leno
,
Conan O'Brien Conan Christopher O'Brien (born April 18, 1963) is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He is best known for hosting several late-night talk shows; since 2010, he has hosted '' Conan'' on the cable channel TBS (U.S. TV ...

Conan O'Brien
,
Graham Norton Graham William Walker (born 4 April 1963), better known by his stage name Graham Norton, is an Irish actor, author, comedian, commentator, and presenter. Well known for his work in the UK, he is a five-time BAFTA TV Award winner for his comedy ...

Graham Norton
, Jim Jefferies,
James Corden James Kimberley Corden (born 22 August 1978) is an English actor, comedian, singer, writer, producer, and television host. In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or A ...

James Corden
,
John Oliver John William Oliver (born 23 April 1977) is a British-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. Oliver started his career as a stand-up comedian in the United Kingdom. He came to wider attention ...

John Oliver
,
Jonathan Ross Jonathan Stephen Ross (born 17 November 1960) is an English television and radio presenter, film critic, actor and comedian. Best known for presenting the BBC One BBC One is a British free-to-air Free-to-air (FTA) services are television ...
,
David Letterman David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of ''Late Night with David Letterma ...

David Letterman
, and
Chelsea Handler Chelsea Joy Handler (born February 25, 1975) is an American comedian, actress, writer, television host, and producer. She hosted the late-night talk show ''Chelsea Lately'' on the E! network from 2007 to 2014 and released a documentary series, ...

Chelsea Handler
. There are sketch comedies, such as '' Mr. Show with Bob and David'' and
Monty Python Monty Python (also collectively known as the Pythons) were a British surreal comedy troupe A comedy troupe is a group of comedians and associated personnel who work together to perform comedy as entertainment. The term is often used inte ...
who created their sketch comedy show ''
Monty Python's Flying Circus ''Monty Python’s Flying Circus'' (also known as simply ''Monty Python''; sometimes abbreviated ''MPFC'') is a British surreal humour, surreal sketch comedy series created by and starring the comedy group Monty Python, consisting of Graham Ch ...
'' (a
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
show that influenced ''
Saturday Night Live ''Saturday Night Live'' (also known as ''SNL'') is an American late-night live television sketch comedy Sketch comedy comprises a series of short, amusing scenes or vignettes, called "sketches", commonly between one and ten minutes long, ...

Saturday Night Live
''), and sitcoms, such as ''
Roseanne ''Roseanne'' is an American sitcom television series created by Matt Williams (TV producer), Matt Williams and Roseanne Barr, which aired on American Broadcasting Company, ABC from October 18, 1988, to May 20, 1997, and briefly revived from Marc ...

Roseanne
'', ''
Only Fools and Horses ''Only Fools and Horses....'' is a British television sitcom created and written by John Sullivan (writer), John Sullivan. Seven series were originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom from 1981 to 1991, with sixteen sporadic Christmas ...
'', and ''
Not Going Out ''Not Going Out'' is a British television sitcom A sitcom, Clipping (morphology), clipping for situational comedy (situation comedy in the U.S.), is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who (mostly) carry over from episode ...
'', as well as popular panel shows like ''
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year ''The Big Fat Quiz of the Year'' is an approximately annual British television programme broadcast in the last or first week of the year on Channel 4. Essentially, the show is a comedy panel game in the style of a pub quiz. Three teams, of tw ...
'', '' Have I Got News for You'', and ''
Celebrity Juice ''Celebrity Juice'' is a British television Regular television broadcasts in the United Kingdom started in 1936 as a public service which was free of advertising, while the introduction of television and the first tests commencing in 1922. C ...
''.


Internet

Comedy is increasingly enjoyed online. Comedians with popular long-running podcasts series include
Kevin Smith Kevin Patrick Smith (born August 2, 1970) is an American filmmaker, actor, comedian, comic book writer, author, and podcaster. He came to prominence with the low-budget A low-budget film or low-budget movie is a motion picture shot with litt ...

Kevin Smith
and
Joe Rogan Joseph James Rogan (born August 11, 1967) is an American podcaster, UFC The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts (MMA) promoter (entertainment), promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The UFC is o ...

Joe Rogan
. Comedians streaming videos of their stand-up include
Bridget Christie Bridget Louise Christie (born 17 August 1971)"Comedy profile ...
,
Louis C.K. Louis Székely (; born September 12, 1967), known professionally as Louis C.K. (), is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and filmmaker. C.K. won three Peabody Awards The George Foster Peabody Awards (or simply Peabody Awards or t ...
and
Daniel Kitson Daniel John Kitson (born 2 July 1977) is an English comedian and writer. Career Kitson was born in Denby Dale Denby Dale is a village and civil parish in the metropolitan borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire, England, to the south east of ...

Daniel Kitson
.
PewDiePie Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg ( , ; born 24 October 1989), known online as PewDiePie ( ), is a Swedish YouTuber and comedian, known primarily for his Let's Play videos and comedic formatted shows. Born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, Kjellberg r ...
, the most subscribed to individual YouTuber, is also a popular comedian.


Jokes

There are many established formats for jokes. One example is the
pun The pun, also known as paronomasia, is a form of word play Word play or wordplay (also: play-on-words) is a literary technique A narrative technique (known for literary fictional narratives as a literary technique, literary device, or fi ...
or double-entendre, where similar words are interchanged. ''
The Two Ronnies ''The Two Ronnies'' is a British television comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of t ...
'' often used puns and double-entendre. Stewart Francis and
Tim Vine Timothy Mark Vine (born 4 March 1967) is an English writer, actor, comedian and presenter, known for his one-liner jokes, and his role on '' Not Going Out'' from 2006 to 2014. He has released a number of DVDs of his stand-up comedy and has writ ...

Tim Vine
are examples of current comedians who deploy numerous puns. Jokes based on puns tend to be very quick and easy to digest, which sometimes leads to other joke forms being overlooked, for example in the Funniest Joke of the Fringe awards. Other jokes may rely on confounding an audience's expectations through a misleading setup (known as a 'pull back and reveal' in the UK and a 'leadaway' in the US). Ed Byrne is an example of a comedian who has used this technique. Some jokes are based on ad absurdum extrapolations, for example much of
Richard Herring Richard Keith Herring (born 12 July 1967) is an English stand-up comedian Stand-up comedy is a comedy Performing arts, performance and narration, narrative craft whereby a comedian Communication, communicates to a live audience, Fourth wall, s ...

Richard Herring
and
Ross Noble Ross Markham Noble (born 5 June 1976) is an English stand-up comedian and actor living in Melbourne Melbourne ( ; wyi, Naarm) is the List of Australian capital cities, capital and List of cities in Australia by population, most-populous ci ...
's standup. In
ironic Irony (), in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device In rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emoti ...

ironic
humour there is an intentional mismatch between a message and the form in which it is conveyed (for example the work of
Danielle Ward Danielle Ward (born 9 October 1978) is a British stand-up comedian and writer. Career Ward worked as an economic researcher at London's South Korean Embassy before she became a comedian. In 2006, Ward won the '' Time Outs Critic's Choice awa ...
). Other joke forms include observation (Michael McIntyre), whimsy (David O'Doherty), self-deprecation (
Robin Williams Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisation Improvisation is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Impro ...

Robin Williams
) and parody (Diane Morgan).


Personality traits

In a January 2014 study, conducted in the ''British Journal of Psychiatry'', scientists found that comedians tend to have high levels of psychotic personality traits. In the study, researchers analyzed 404 male and 119 female comedians from
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
, United Kingdom, Britain, and the United States. The participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire designed to measure psychotic traits in healthy people. They found that comedians scored "significantly higher on four types of psychotic characteristics compared to a control group of people who had non-creative jobs." Gordon Claridge, a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford and leader of the study claimed, "the creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis—both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder." However, labeling comedians' personality traits as "psychotic" does not mean that individual is a psychopath, since psychopathy is distinct from psychosis, and neither does it mean their behavior is necessarily pathological.


Highest-paid comedians

''Forbes'' publishes an annual list of the most financially successful comedians in the world, similarly to their Forbes Celebrity 100, Celebrity 100 list. Their data sources include Nielsen Media Research, Pollstar, Box Office Mojo and IMDb. The list was topped by Jerry Seinfeld from 2006 until 2015, who lost the title to
Kevin Hart Kevin Darnell Hart (born July 6, 1979) is an American stand-up comedian and actor. Born and raised in Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most po ...
in 2016. In that year, the eight highest paid comedians were from the United States, including Amy Schumer, who became the first woman to be listed in the top ten. The top ten of 2016 are as follows:


See also

* Comedy genres * Humor * Impressionist (entertainment), Impressionist * List of comedians * List of humorists * List of musical comedians * Satire


Notes


References

{{Authority control Comedy Comedy theatre Comedians, Entertainment occupations Stand-up comedy