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Dying Is Easy, Killing Is Hard: The Evolution of Stand-Up Comedy

March 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 82

Stand-Up Comedy boomed in the mid-1980s all over America but over-saturation of clubs, comics, and television led to an industry-wide slump that lasted several years in the mid-1990s. Comedy insiders acknowledge the art form is not as popular as it was in the '80s, but say that things have stabilized. The current crop of 18- to 34-year-olds - comedy's largest audience - has had to cope with more change, information, crime and corruption than preceding generations. As the saying goes, "Comedy isn't an escape, it's a survival mechanism.'' Industry insiders I talked to thought the next generation of comics would bring in a new era of whimsy and mild observation. There are hardly any young comics coming out with any sharp opinions, be it political or ironic, or whatever. Most are being very safe, as a comedian, you've got to say contentious things, that's part of the contract. To make people gasp, or stop laughing; to pull the rug out from under people's feet and surprise them. There is a big audience for offensive comedy, albeit one with a sometimes unsavoury edge.

Stand-up comedy's history is filled with offensive humor. Most of the iconic comedians of the last 50 years - Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, even Billy Connolly - were once considered beyond the pale. What is interesting about the New Offenders is who they are offending, and why. Their predecessors tended to offend against establishment opinion, and came from what might broadly be described as a left-libertarian perspective. The sacred cows they butchered were religious orthodoxy, obscenity laws, militarism and racial inequality. In the 1980s, this brand of outre humour - then called alternative comedy - went mainstream. The derogatory comedy of Bernard Manning and Benny Hill was elbowed off the airwaves by proudly anti-racist, anti-sexist comics of the younger generation. By the year 2000, alternative comedy had got to a place where it was po-faced and not very funny, comics were just saying stuff that everyone in the audience thought anyway. That preachy, patronising thing - it was necessary at the time, but audiences have become more sophisticated. Alternative comedy became a fundamentalism that had to be challenged. In the 1970s, black and Asian people were getting shit put through their letterboxes but, the world has moved on. Now we accept the [anti-racist, anti-sexist] tenets of alternative comedy as true, and don't need to patronise audiences any more. Cultures are blending now, people are getting used to one another more. Today, more sections of society are being represented in comedy clubs then ever before.

What has stayed the same is great comedians tend to exploit (and relieve) our anxieties about what's sayable. Ideally audiences enjoy jokes that are edgy and disrupt some kind of social more, but it also needs to be clear that everything is totally and completely fine. The best comedians are also experts at explaining complicated, difficult-to-grasp concepts.

Kam Hesari is a prime example of a young comic with electrifying stage presence that audiences love to feed off of. This guy is really far into his comic trip, his amusingly digressive journey into everyday absurdity and hyper-literal thinking is the perfect twist of reality. I highly recommend that you watch his stand-up comedy at the link below as, you'll find yourself standing in some mind-bending places. His extreme consciousness of wordplay, irony, and, semiotics are equivalent to a caffeine shot of humour!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzjxzRiQf0A

Source: EzineArticles
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