Stand-up comedy is a comic style in which a comedian performs in front of a live audience, usually speaking directly to them. The performer is commonly known as a comic, stand-up comic, comedian, comedienne, stand-up comedian, or simply a stand-up. Comedians give the illusion that they are dialoguing, but in actuality, they are monologuing a grouping of humorous stories, jokes and one-liners, typically called a shtick, routine, act, or set. Some stand-up comedians use props, music or magic tricks to enhance their acts. Stand-up comedy is stated to be the "freest form of comedy writing" that is regarded as a fictionalized "extension of" the person performing.
Stand-up is often compared to jazz, poetry, songwriting, and sword making. Some of the main types of humor in stand-up comedy include observational comedy, blue comedy, dark comedy, clean comedy, and cringe comedy. Alternative stand-up comedy deviates from the traditional, mainstream comedy by breaking either joke structure, performing in an untraditional scene, or breaking an audience's expectations; this includes, but is not limited to, the use of shaggy dog stories and anti-jokes.
Stand-up comedy is often performed in corporate events, comedy clubs, bars and pubs, nightclubs, neo-burlesques, colleges and theatres (audiences will give applause breaks more often in theaters). Outside live performance, stand-up is often distributed commercially via television, DVD, CD and the internet.
As the name implies, "stand-up" comedians usually perform their material while standing, though this is not mandatory. Similar acts performed while seated can be referred to as "sit-down comedy".
In stand-up comedy, the feedback of the audience is instant and crucial for the comedian's act, even from the moment they enter the venue. Audiences expect a stand-up comedian to provide a constant stream of laughs, calculated at four to six laughs per minute, and a performer is always under pressure to deliver, especially the first two minutes.
A stand-up comedy show is rarely one comedian. It is usually a multi-person, showcase format, often with a traditional opener, feature performer, and headliner. A traditional format typically features an opening act known as a host, compère (UK),master of ceremonies (MC/emcee), or simply "opener" who, for 10-12 minutes, usually warms up the crowd, interacts with audience members, makes announcements, and then introduces the other performers; this is followed by a "middle"/"feature" act that lasts 15-20 minutes but is expected to have "30 minutes of solid material"; the feature act is followed by the headliner, who performs for "an hour." The second definition of an opener is applied when the opening act of a traveling comedian may perform a 25-minute set (the opener doubles as a feature). The "showcase" format consists of several acts who perform for roughly equal lengths of time, typical in smaller clubs such as the Comedy Cellar, or Jongleurs, or at large events where the billing of several names allows for a larger venue than the individual comedians could draw. A showcase format may still feature an MC.
Many smaller venues hold open mic events, where anyone can take the stage and perform for the audience. This offers an opportunity for amateur performers to hone their craft and perhaps to break into the profession, or for established professionals to work on their material. Industry scouts will sometimes go to watch open mics. Breaking into the business requires "10 minute[s]" of "A" material. Roadhouses (remote clubs) start booking people for "20 minutes of 'A' material". "A" material means getting a big laugh at least "75% of the time".
"Bringer shows" are open mics that require amateur performers to bring a specified number of paying guests to receive stage time. Some view this as exploitation, while others disagree. The guests usually have to pay a cover charge and there is often a minimum number of drinks that must be ordered. These shows usually have a "showcase" format. Different comedy clubs have different requirements for their bringer shows. Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, for example, usually has ten-person bringers, while Broadway Comedy Club in New York City usually has six-person bringers. In the '90s, the New York Comedy Club had pre-shows that were bringer shows; they also had audition scams with an "accelerated pre-show program."
This is an unpaid, five-to-ten-minute time slot (during the emcee's time slot of a professional show) that is essentially an audition to get booked for paid gigs.
In stand-up comedy, a "canned" joke is made of a "premise...point of view" and "twist" ending. A joke contains the least amount of information necessary to be conveyed, understood, and laughed at; the setup contains the information needed by the audience in order to understand the punchline. Most of stand-up comedy's jokes are the juxtaposition of two incongruous things. According to the founding editor of The Onion, there are eleven types of jokes. Stand-up comedians will normally deliver their jokes in the form of a typical joke structure, using comedic timing to deliver the setup and then the punch line. Stand-ups will normally frame their stories as having happened "recently." The comedian's delivery of a joke--the pause, inflection, "ener[gy]," and look--is "everything". Comedians often include taglines (dependent punchlines that follow another punchline) and toppers (independent afterthoughts that follow a punchline). Some sources may use tags, toppers, and afterthoughts as synonyms.
A jokoid is a placeholder joke, which will eventually be superseded by a funnier joke. Stock jokes are similar to jokoids (as placeholders) and are hack jokes that are for "specific situations". A paraprosdokian is a popular method that is used by comedians, creating a surprising punchline that causes the listener to reinterpret the setup. Stand-ups will often use the rule of three. Comedians will normally include stylistic and comedic devices, such as tropes, idioms, stop consonants, and wordplay.
A traditional set is made of jokes (setup and punchline), bits (a joke or "3 or 4 jokes"), and chunks (multiple bits linked by a topic that may last "10-15 minutes"). Long bits must have the biggest laugh at their endings. Once a setup is established for a bit, the proceeding "jokes" should get shorter and shorter. A segue is the link between jokes. A callback is a reference to a previous joke. Bombing refers to when a comedian has failed to get an intended laugh. A stand-up comedian uses a persona or character to deliver their jokes. The quality of a comedian's material is more important than their persona, unless they are well known. Other sources say that personality trumps material. A good comedian will create a tendentious-like tension that the audience releases with laughter. This is known as a "relief/release" laugh. A comedian's stand-up persona/voice consists of the type of material they perform, the format of the material, the aggregate set, the comedian's rapport with the audience, and the comedian's "own identity."
When a set is consistently bombing, most comedians will perform "crowd work" by communicating with audience members to save face; much of crowd work is prewritten with added improvisation.  Some comedians will use small talk that directs audience members to answer "a question" that the comedian "[has] a topper" for. Other comedians will become more intimate with their questions until they get multiple big laughs, before moving on.  The result of crowd work is often an inside joke.
A "tight five" is a five-minute stand-up routine that is well-rehearsed and consists of a stand-up comedian's best material that reliably gets laughs. It is often used for auditions or delivered when audience response is minimal. A tight five is the stepping stone to getting a paid spot.
Comics memorize their jokes through the use of on-stage practice/blocking. Some comedians employ a mnemonic device called the method of loci (memory palace technique) to remember their jokes. Some write their jokes over and over, while others have a set list in front of them; for professionals, this may be on cue cards or a stage monitor. 
In stand-up, a heckler is a person who interrupts a comedian's set. Comedians will often have a repertoire of comebacks for hecklers. Comedians will sometimes get into physical altercations with hecklers.
The term "punching down" is sometimes used to describe jokes that are made at the expense of disenfranchised groups or their members. It carries with it the assumption that comedy should be directed at the powerful rather than the afflicted.
Claiming one can smell the road on a comic is a pejorative phrase for a comedian who has compromised their own originality to get laughs while travelling. Comedian Seth Meyers coined the term "clapter": when an audience cheers or applauds for a joke that they agree with but that is not funny enough to get a laugh.
A hack is a pejorative term for a comedian with rushed, unoriginal, low-quality, or cliché material. One proposed amelioration to hackneyed material is an essay by George Orwell called "Politics and the English Language: The Six Rules".
A warm-up act (crowd warmer) performs at comedy clubs, before the filming of a television comedy in front of a studio audience, or the beginning of music concerts to prepare the crowd for the show or main act.
Stand-up comedy in the United Kingdom began in the music halls of the 18th and 19th centuries. Notable "front-cloth comics" who rose through the 20th century variety theatre circuit were Morecambe and Wise, Arthur Askey, Ken Dodd and Max Miller. Until 1968, the heavy censorship regime of the Lord Chamberlain's Office required all comedians to submit their acts for censorship. The act would be returned with unacceptable sections underlined in blue pencil (possibly giving rise to the term "blue" for a comedian whose act is considered bawdy or smutty). The comedian was then obliged not to deviate from the act in its edited form.
The rise of the post-war comedians coincided with the rise of television and radio, and the traditional music hall circuit suffered greatly as a result. By the 1970s, music hall entertainment was virtually dead. Alternative circuits had evolved, such as working men's clubs. Some of the more successful comedians on the working men's club circuit--including Bernard Manning, Bobby Thompson, Frank Carson and Stan Boardman--eventually made their way to television via such shows as The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. The "alternative" comedy scene also began to evolve. Some of the earliest successes came from folk clubs, where performers such as Billy Connolly, Mike Harding and Jasper Carrott started as relatively straight musical acts whose between-song banter developed into complete comedy routines. The 1960s had also seen the satire boom, including the creation of the club, the Establishment, which, amongst other things, gave British audiences their first taste of extreme American stand-up comedy from Lenny Bruce.Victoria Wood launched her stand-up career in the early 1980s, which included observational conversation mixed with comedy songs. Wood was to become one of the country's most successful comedians, in 2001 selling out the Royal Albert Hall for 15 nights in a row.
In 1979, the first American-style stand-up comedy club, the Comedy Store was opened in London by Peter Rosengard, where many alternative comedy stars of the 1980s, such as Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Alexei Sayle, Craig Ferguson, Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson began their careers. The stand-up comedy circuit rapidly expanded from London across the UK. The present British stand-up comedy circuit arose from the 'alternative' comedy revolution of the 1980s, with political and observational humor being the prominent styles to flourish. In 1983, young drama teacher Maria Kempinska created Jongleurs Comedy Clubs, now the largest stand-up comedy chain in Europe. Stand up comedy is believed to have been performed originally as a one-man show. Lately, this type of show started to involve a group of young comedians, especially in Europe.
Although the antecedents of this genre can be traced back to the monologues of Miguel Gila in the 1950s, the rise of live comedy in Spain took a long time in comparison with the American continent. The first generalized relationship with this comic genre occurred in 1999 with the creation of the Paramount Comedy channel, which included the New Comics program as one of its flagship programs, where monologuists such as Ángel Martín, José Juan Vaquero, David Broncano, and Joaquín Reyes stood out. Also, in 1999 began the journey of the program The club of comedy, an open adaptation of the popular comic format. In its first stage (1999-2005), it underwent several chain changes and released comedians like Luis Piedrahita, Alexis Valdes or Goyo Jiménez. In its new stage, starting in 2011 in La Sexta and presented by Eva Hache, it tries to start in the genre of comic monologue media characters from different artistic fields such as: Imanol Arias, José Luis Gil, Isabel Ordaz and Santiago Segura. Special mention deserves the Buenafuente program, started in 2005. The presenter, Andreu Buenafuente, made an initial monologue of about 9 to 11 minutes where he links current issues with everyday humorous situations. This became the most famous part of the program and made him one of the most recognized comedians in Spain, for his connection with the public and his ability to improvise. On the other hand, the comedian Ignatius Farray became one of the most representative icons of this genre today.
Stand-up comedy in the United States got its start from the stump-speech monologues of minstrel shows in the early 19th century. It also has roots in various traditions of popular entertainment of the late 19th century, including vaudeville, English music hall, burlesque or early variety shows, humorist monologues by personalities such as Mark Twain, and circus clown antics. With the turn of the century and ubiquitousness of urban and industrial living, the structure, pacing and timing, and material of American humor began to change. Comedians of this era often depended on fast-paced joke delivery, slapstick, outrageous or lewd innuendo, and donned an ethnic persona--African, Scottish, German, Jewish--and built a routine based on popular stereotypes. Jokes were generally broad and material was widely shared, or in some cases, stolen. Industrialized American audiences sought entertainment as a way to escape and confront city living.
The founders of modern American stand-up comedy include Moms Mabley, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, George Burns, Fred Allen, Milton Berle and Frank Fay all of whom came from vaudeville or the Chitlin' Circuit. They spoke directly to the audience as themselves, in front of the curtain, known as performing "in one". Frank Fay gained acclaim as a "master of ceremonies" at New York's Palace Theater. Vaudevillian Charlie Case (also spelled Charley Case) is often credited with the first form of stand-up comedy, performing humorous monologues without props or costumes. This had not been done before during a vaudeville show.
Nightclubs and resorts became the new breeding ground for stand-ups. Acts such as Alan King, Danny Thomas, Martin and Lewis, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers and Jack E. Leonard flourished in these new arenas.
In the 1950s and into the 1960s, stand-ups such as Mort Sahl began developing their acts in small folk clubs like San Francisco's hungry i (owned by impresario Enrico Banducci and origin of the ubiquitous "brick wall" behind comedians) or New York's Bitter End. These comedians added an element of social satire and expanded both the language and boundaries of stand-up, venturing into politics, race relations, and sexual humor. Lenny Bruce became known as 'the' obscene comic when he used language that usually led to his arrest. After Lenny Bruce, arrests for obscene language on stage nearly disappeared until George Carlin was arrested on 21 July 1972 at Milwaukee's Summerfest after performing the routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" (the case against Carlin was eventually dismissed).
Other notable comics from this era include Woody Allen, Shelley Berman, Phyllis Diller, and Bob Newhart. Some Black American comedians such as Redd Foxx, George Kirby, Bill Cosby, and Dick Gregory began to cross over to white audiences during this time.
In the 1970s, several entertainers became major stars based on stand-up comedy performances. Richard Pryor and George Carlin followed Lenny Bruce's acerbic style to become icons. Stand-up expanded from clubs, resorts, and coffee houses into major concerts in sports arenas and amphitheaters. Steve Martin and Bill Cosby had levels of success with gentler comic routines. The older style of stand-up comedy (no social satire) was kept alive by Rodney Dangerfield and Buddy Hackett, who enjoyed revived careers late in life. Don Rickles, whose legendary style of relentless merciless attacks on both fellow performers and audience members alike kept him a fixture on TV and in Vegas from the 1960s all the way to the 2000s, when he appeared in the wildly popular Pixar Toy Story films as Mr Potato Head, who just happened to share Don's grouchy onstage mannerisms. Television programs such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show helped publicize the careers of other stand-up comedians, including Janeane Garofalo, Bill Maher and Jay Leno.
From the 1970s to the '90s, different styles of comedy began to emerge, from the madcap stylings of Robin Williams, to the odd observations of Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen DeGeneres, the ironic musings of Steven Wright, to the mimicry of Whoopi Goldberg, and Eddie Murphy. These comedians would serve to influence the next generation of comedians.
In terms of live comedy in Mexico, the predecessors of this comic style are:
The new generation of comedians decided to use their own lives as the theme of their comedy, imitating the American style:
The one-man-show genre, which is similar, but allows other approaches (enacting characters, songs and scenes) was introduced in Brazil by José Vasconcellos in the 60's. Taking a step closer to the North American format, Chico Anysio and Jô Soares maintained the format - specially in their live nation-wide talks shows, and generally, in the opening monologues - bringing to Brazil a genre more similar to what we currently know as Stand-up.
Stand-up began to be interesting news in 2005 in São Paulo, when the first club was created, called Clube de Comédia Stand-Up: composed of Marcelo Mansfield, Rafinha Bastos, Oscar Filho, Marcela Leal and Márcio Ribeiro. In São Paulo the comedy club would present in Beverly Hills, the traditional comedy venue in Moema. Shortly afterwards it migrated to Mr. Blues and Bleeker Street, in Vila Madalena. In Rio de Janeiro, Comédia em Pé, (Comedy Standing Up): composed of Cláudio Torres Gonzaga, Fábio Porchát, Fernando Caruso and Paulo Carvalho, had its debue at the venue Rio Design Leblon. These were the first stand-up performances in the country.
In 2006, the comic Jô Soares watched Clube de Comédia in São Paulo and invited the comic Diogo Portugal for an interview in his talk show. That was a definitive moment to call attention towards the genre. He mentioned many different shows that he was a part of and attracted the public attention and media coverage to the bars that held these presentations. In Curitiba, with this momentum, many other stand-up nights began opening up. In São Paulo, Danilo Gentili, that had just become a part of Clube da Comédia, invited Mário Ribeiro and gathered other young comics that were frequent spectators at the club, to create Comédia Ao Vivo (Live Comedy): composed of Dani Calabresa, Luiz França, Fábio Rabin.
With the show CQC - Custe o Que Custar, on the channel Band, a nation-wide tv outlet, in 2008, the genre took gained its permanent spot on the national stage. With bug names like Danilo Gentili, Rafinha Bastos and Oscar Filho, the curiosity grew exponentially.
Following CQC's example many channels and tv shows on Brazil's national television invested in Stand-up comedy. After this many other groups gained recognition in the clubs and live performances around the two biggest cities of Brazil.
Modern stand-up comedy in India is a young artform, however Chakyar koothu was prominent in Trivandrum and southern Kerala during the 16th and 17th centuries. It had all the attributes of modern stand-up comedy and is widely considered to be the oldest known staged comedy act anywhere in the world.
Even though the history of live comedy performances in India traces its early roots back to 1980s, for a long time stand-up comedians were only given supporting/filler acts in various performances (dance or music).
In 1986, India's Johnny Lever performed in a charity show called "Hope 86", in front of the whole Hindi film industry as a filler and was loved by audience. His talent was recognized, and he would later be described as "the iconic comedian of his generation".
It was not until 2005, when the TV show The Great Indian Laughter Challenge garnered huge popularity and stand-up comedy in itself started getting recognised. Thus, a lot more comedians became popular and started performing various live and TV shows. The demand for comedy content continues to increase. Some popular comedians around 2005-2008 include Raju Srivastav, Kapil Sharma, Sunil Pal etc. Most of them performed their acts in Hindi.
Raju Srivastav first appeared on the comedy talent show The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. He finished as second runner-up and then took part in the spin-off, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge -- Champions, in which he won the title of "The King of Comedy". Srivastava was a participant on season 3 of Bigg Boss. He has participated in the comedy show Comedy Ka Maha Muqabla.
Kapil Sharma is ranked no. 3 at the most admired Indian personality list by The Economic Times in 2015. Currently he is hosting the most popular Indian comedy show "The Kapil Sharma Show" after "Comedy Nights with Kapil". Sharma had been working in the comedy show Hasde Hasande Raho on MH One, until he got his first break in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, one of the nine reality television shows he has won. He became the winner of the show in 2007 for which he won 10 lakhs as prize money.
Sharma participated in Sony Entertainment Television's Comedy Circus. He became the winner of all six seasons of "Comedy Circus" he participated in. He has hosted dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa Season 6 and also hosted comedy show Chhote Miyan. Sharma also participated in the show Ustaadon Ka Ustaad.
Around the 2008-2009, two other popular comedians Papa CJ and Vir Das returned to India and started making their marks on Indian comedy scene. Both of them were exposed to UK and US comedy routines and they performed mostly in English. At the same time, a few more youngsters got inspired and started taking plunge into stand-up comedy.
Since 2011, the stand-up comedy has been getting substantial appreciation. The Comedy Store from London opened an outlet in Mumbai's Palladium Mall where people would regularly enjoy comedians from UK. The Comedy Story also supported local comedians and helped them grow. This outlet eventually become Canvas Laugh Club in Mumbai.
Around 2011, people started organizing different comedy open mic events in Mumbai, Delhi (and Gurgaon), Bangalore. All of this happened in association with growth of a counterculture in Indian cities which catered to the appetite of younger generations for live events for comedy, poetry, storytelling, and music. Various stand up events were covered by popular news channels such NDTV / Aajtak etc. and were appreciated by millions of viewers.
As a result of these developments, plus the increasing penetration of YouTube (along with Internet/World Wide Web), Indian stand up comedy started reaching further masses. While the established comedians such as Vir Das, Papa CJ were independently growing through various corporate / international performances, other comedians such as Vipul Goyal, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Kenny Sebastian, Kanan Gill grew popular through YouTube videos. The industry, still in its early stages, now sees a lot more influx of aspiring comedians as it transforms the ecosystem around it. Aasharya,Dores,Lekman grew from Nepal starting comedy from class.
Mark Twain and Jerry Seinfeld, both American masters of stand-up comedy, believe in practice and rehearsal. Twain prepared, rehearsed, revised and adapted his material for his popular humorous presentations. Seinfeld says: "Most contemporary comedy is profane, outraged and disposable" but his philosophy is to give the best that he has.
Comedy schools work with new comics to workshop material, assisting comics work to overcome stage fright and better their writing skills by helping their classmates improve their sets. Comedy schools offer improvisation classes for comics so that they are more comfortable straying from written material such as when dealing with hecklers. Improvisation is also necessary when working among crowd and interacting with the audience.
Stand-up comedy is the focus of four major international festivals: the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland; Just for Laughs in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario in Canada; HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO, and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in Melbourne, Australia.  A number of other festivals operate around the world, including The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, the Vancouver Comedy Festival, the New York Comedy Festival, the Boston Comedy and Film Festival, the New York Underground Film Festival, the Sydney Comedy Festival, and the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland. Radio hosts Opie and Anthony also produce a comedy tour called Opie and Anthony's Traveling Virus Comedy Tour, featuring their own co-host, Jim Norton as well as several other stand-up comedians regularly featured on their radio show. There is also a festival in Hong Kong called the HK International Comedy Festival.
This was black vaudeville that predated the Chitlin' Circuit.
The Chitlin' Circuit was a "collection of all-black venues, clubs, [and] theaters". The Apollo Theater was the performers' most sought after venue. Notable performers for this circuit include Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley, Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx, and the duo Tim and Tom.
Before the advent of full-fledged American comedy clubs, Hugh Hefner created a chain of Playboy Clubs and employed people like Dick Gregory,Mort Sahl, Steve Martin, and Lenny Bruce. Hugh Hefner ok'd Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight, which was not recorded in a Playboy club.
There are two associations that lead the college circuit: the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activites (APCA) (which has 200 member colleges) and the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) (which has 1,100 member colleges).
Comedians in the USA and Canada audition for NACA to hundreds of college and university bookers, first with a 90-second video submission, and then a ten-minute, in-person audtion to perform hour-long sets.
Sets must not trigger students by "punching down," contain any denigrating material, or contain dark or blue humor; it must be "intelligent humor" and contain subjects that college-aged adults express contempt for.
Higher education, that was once seen as the bastion of free speech is now criticized by comedians for being too PC (politically correct). Many famous comedians no longer desire to perform at colleges and universities.
The Cruise Lines International Association contains 60 cruise liners. Comedians work an average of two days per week; this circuit is said to not aid in moving up in the field. Cruiseliners have both clean comedy and blue comedy at different times during the day, but opinionated political material is frowned upon. Hecklers are tolerated more in a cruise setting.
Corporate circuit comedy must be clean comedy that neither swears nor references sexual acts; church (or "squeaky clean") comedy is preferred; two celebrities that perform this type of comedy are Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan. In a lecture given at the University of Oxford, Stewart Lee stated that his character is unable to do corporate gigs, because he takes on the role of being superior to his audience.
The Christian Comedy Association started in the 90s, in an attempt to use comedy as a "spiritual vehicle." Comedian Doug Stanhope has criticized Christian comedy. Heckling is almost nonexistent in the church circuit. Christian comedy is clean comedy that claims to help one's soul.
Many comedians have day jobs. In a comedian's first five years, they will often lose money doing comedy. Comedians will sometimes be paid for their performances with alcoholic beverages. A stand-up's first comedy job will often be emceeing. While it can take around a decade to make a living at comedy, unknown comedians may achieve great financial success.
As of 2015, hosts and MCs are paid $0-$150, depending on location and the time of week (emcees average $25); showcase spots get $10-$75; features get approximately $300-$600; a headliner with no following gets $150-$1500, depending on many factors; headliners with a following or TV credits can make $1,500-$10,000 per show. The headliner makes "10 times" more money than the feature act. Famous headliners get paid from "door deals," or a percentage of the revenue, based on the number of seats sold; these comics rely on their notoriety to fill seats, which makes them more money than headliners with no following. Comics will sell merchandise after their shows; this will make up for other expenses, like traveling.
Mark Normand states that a set on Conan will pay "a couple grand" for five minutes. In 2012, Comedy Central routinely offered $15,000 for a half-hour special. As of 2015, Comedy Central will pay comedians about $20,000 for a thirty-minute set; an hour, Comedy Central special can be up to $150,000; as of 2018, Netflix will pay comedians $26,000+ for a fifteen-minute set; Netflix pays celebrity-comedians different amounts from one another.
The cruise-circuit comedian can make up to $10,000 per week, some $85,000 per year; and, a college-circuit comedian can make six figures per year or thousands of dollars per gig. Christian circuit comedy headliners make $1,500-$2,500 per show. Although one source states that newer comics on the national (L.A.) circuit make $1,250-$2,500 per week, another source claims that this is very innacurate, and the amount of money one makes is closer to $20 for a spot.
Famous comedians may pay lesser comedians thousands of dollars for jokes and hire them on as writers, but many famous comedians do not reveal this, as it is considered a taboo to admit purchasing material for stand-up comedy sets. Comedians may knowingly sell plagiarized jokes.
Many of the earliest vaudeville-era stand-ups gained their greater recognition on radio. They often opened their programs with topical monologues, characterized by ad-libs and discussions about anything from the latest films to a missed birthday. Each program tended to be divided into the opening monologue, musical number, followed by a skit or story routine. A "feud" between Fred Allen and Jack Benny was used as comic material for nearly a decade.
HBO presented comedians uncensored for the first time, beginning with Robert Klein in 1975, and was instrumental in reaching larger audiences. George Carlin was a perennial favorite, who appeared in 14 HBO comedy specials.
Continuing that tradition, most modern stand-up comedians use television or motion pictures to reach a level of success and recognition unattainable in the comedy-club circuit alone.
Late-night talk shows and award show ceremonies are commonly hosted by comedians, delivering monologues similar to stand-up.
A low ceiling and proximity to the stage is important because standup comedy is not a performance. It is a conversation in which the comedian does all of the talking.
[A lot of] stand-up comedy...as a general art form...is pre-scripted
Jerry Seinfeld explains: 'Comedy is a dialogue, not a monologue--that's what makes an act click. The laughter becomes the audience's part, and the comedian responds'
On the whole, you have to give the illusion that it's a dialogue
A comic's material about his life may have some connection to reality, but basically an act is just that, an act--it's a fictionalized account with a few actual facts thrown in to make the act believable and, perhaps, more relevant to people's lives.
I was demonstrating tricks eight to twelve hours a day
That's the goal--to become yourself.
[A stand-up's] act [is a] fictionalized account with a few actual facts thrown in to make the act believable and, perhaps more relevant to people's lives...Every stand-up goes onstage as a character to some extent. Some may adopt a persona that's very similar to their own personality, but it's still a separate entity...even observational comics...use truth...as a foundation on which to build jokes by taking the truth to its farthest [sic] extreme.
(loosely) autobiographical comedy is the dominant form of stand-up today.
I [Gary Shandling] think you can only be on stage what you are in real life.
[I]f you're not real...people will sniff that out.
I've [Roseanne Barr] always thought that comedy was about music and jazz...I used to think of it like the clarinet. I worked really hard to hear the music in my comedy.
[Stand-up] is the only art-form where the intended receiver of the art is present at the delivery, and the art form can be altered according to their appreciation of it, as you go...[like] jazz or improv [theatre]...[The comedian is not limited to] tempo and key.
Comics are like poets
I'm looking for the connective tissue...link [between bits]. You will shave letters off words. You count syllables...to get it just...it's more like songwriting
the way they [used to] make samurai swords...they bang it...fold it...bang it again...fold it and keep banging it...they pound on it...fold it so that they're squeezing out all the oxygen...just keep making it perfect...write another hour, and then fold it into that one. And then, get rid of all the impurities and all the bad stuff, and then keep doing that.
The average club seats  people
How did you answer them? 'By being George Wallace, and finding out who you are as a comedian. And that takes between seven and eleven years.'
How long did it take you to figure out your individual comedic essence? 'I'd [Jerry Seinfeld] say ten years.'
A stage presence comes pretty quickly [but] how to write jokes and how to generate material and know it's going to work; [concerning these, the] first ten years are building the [base] skills
Bombing is a necessary event. It's the only way one gets better, but every time it happens, it's very painful.
You've got to die to get good.
Yeah, bombing can be good...you grow up and realize it's about continuing to work. It's about making progress.
A show begins the moment the audience walk into a venue.
A lot of comedians just want laugh, laugh, laugh...every, what is it, 15 seconds they say?
Comedy club audiences...expect upwards of four laughs per minute.
If a comedian wants to generate headliner laughter levels, they need to average 4-6+ laughs per minute.
As each comic's usage of material varies (some say they use as few as two jokes a minute, other comics say they need a laugh every fifteen seconds or the act goes 'in the toilet')
The first two minutes is very important with a stand-up
I call the first two minutes, your flash. And that's where you...go up there and...hook them with whatever material it is, so that they know exactly what's funny about you and they trust you and they'll come along with you for everything.
If you don't make them laugh in the first two minutes, you're fucked
If you have a strong first minute...the minutes that follow will be great, too.
One week, I opened for a show...I was now capable of doing two different twenty-five-minute sets per evening
Open mikes are where, as a comedian [like Daniel Tosh and his controversy], you're supposed to be allowed to fuck up.
the next day, my friend who was also on the show [in a theatre above a porn shop across from the Port Authority], told me a scout from casting at Fox was in the audience and they wanted to meet with him.
it gets tarred with the brush of new-act exploitation and lumped in with less scrupulous nights and the insidious blight of pay-to-play...[but] I, personally, have found it to be a very nice room.
In order to get stage time at [bringer shows]...you [have to] bring...5 to 15 friends, each of whom must show up and agree to buy at least two drinks...Some people think bringers are a scam, and they kind of are. They're a cash grab for club owners
Some clubs require 10 bringers/show. If you show up with 9 people, you will not get on and your friends will not get their money back.
Clubs like Caroline's will ask for 15 people.
A canned joke is a generally short narrative ending in a punchline...[that] the speaker has memorized.
[T]he Universal Joke Formula: Premise + Point of View + Twist = Joke
we can craft a joke just by creating and then defeating that specific expectation...introduction, validation, violation
a joke is a context-free and self-contained unit of humor that carries within itself all the information needed for it to be understood and enjoyed.
A setup is the information a person needs to get the joke.
The setup is the essential information the audience needs in order to get the punchline
A joke...must have all the information implicit in the setup, so...the punchline...makes sense.
It's the first half of the joke...It's the first part...I've seen it said that it's the part that gives all the information you need, so that people understand the joke, but I would take it a step a little bit to the side of that...[the setup] is whatever is needed to make the joke work.
It seems like 99% of comedy comes from juxtaposing two things that don't seem to go together
You turn it into a juxtaposition of two ideas and create jokes.
Incongruity has been and remains the most influential approach to the study of humour even though superiority predates it by approximately two thousand years.
At its core, humor seems to be all about incongruity.
[C]omedians will often say that something happened to them recently when it really happened years ago--or may have never happened at all.
Taglines are...very short [jokes that are]...delivered right as the original laughter from the punchline is dying down.
A jokoid fills the place on the page where a genuinely funny joke will eventually go
Stock jokes are jokes that a comic has...that are pretty much hack jokes used for specific situations...they should only be used in certain situations until you can think of something better.
Simon Amstell states, 'I transcribed a couple of the tapes just to figure out what he [Eddie Izzard] was doing cause it just seemed so (pause) It wasn't like setup-punch. I would sort of underline words...is that the rule of three? I don't know what that is.' Eddie Izzard states, 'it should be--establish, reaffirm, and then you kill it on the third...you can keep reaffirming before you twist.
They have a parades department. New Orleans police department has a parades department. There's homicide, there's narcotics, and there's parades. There's other departments too, but you know, rule of three, for comedy.
[Three is the] cadence [that makes] it the most important number in comedy.
Seinfeld adds, 'any k sound is good--it's a very strong letter that impinges on people.'
For every ten jokes you tell, nine will be trash...you'll need hundreds and hundreds of failed jokes to build a decent body of work.
failure is the road to being a great comic...failure is not succeeding in the moment
For every ten jokes written, only one might be acceptable
a bit, 3 or 4 jokes in and around one central theme or idea...[and then] 10-15 minutes, we call that a chunk
A 'bit,' Reiser explains, 'is a group of words used to incorporate a premise and all variations thereof'
If you have a long bit, the biggest laugh has to be at the end. It has to be. It can't be in the middle or the beginning.
Since the setup has already been established, the second, third, and fourth jokes are short, shorter, shortest.
Every stand-up goes onstage as a character to some extent. Some may adopt a persona that's very similar to their own personality, but it's still a separate entity--a person telling jokes as opposed to telling the truth, which no 'real' person does. Even observational comics, who base their material in reality, use the truth not as an end but as a foundation on which to build jokes by taking the truth to its farthest [sic] extreme.
[W]hat's more important, material or delivery? I had to say it's the material.
when the material is good, you can overlook anything
We argue that using the name of someone who people consider funny generates an expectancy of humour when hearing a joke.
I [Irvin Arthur] firmly believe that it's the persona first, and then the material.
[P]ersonality is far more important than material
The classic theorist would be Freud. Tendentious jokes...a difficult or edgy subject is going to create a certain tension in the audience, and having created the tension, if your punchline is funny, the laugh is bigger.
A good standup creates a tension in the room, which the audience wants to break with laughter. If you can do this, any punch line will work as a release valve.
Every time you start a joke, you create some tension...If the joke works, then all that stored is released at the punchline in the form of laughter.
I would call that a relief laugh...like release laugh.
You start off, and you want to be like your heroes...you start out under the naive belief that you get to choose your style...[but] your style of comedy chooses you...it's a misnomer when people say you need to think about your persona...its all bollocks about persona and timing. I didn't set out to be a one-liner comic, but I was shit at everything else.
don't stop [your crowd work with a single audience member] until you've got [approximately] 4 big laughs.
After deciding to become a stand-up...Cathy Ladman worked to develop 'five decent minutes'
'tight five' --five minutes of solid go-to jokes that show who you are and reliably get laughs.
A tight 5 minutes of stand-up comedy material generates an average 4-6+ collective audience laughs each performing minute.
If you have an all 'A' [material] 5-minute set, you'll get paid nothing.
Fran Capo [states that]...an audition is usually five minutes.
To avoid going blank on stage, use the Memory Palace.
I'm currently using memory palaces or I think the loci method
I will put a set list on the stage monitor
I have a list of three or four [comebacks]...and the rest will be off the cuff
George Calfa, who feels that he's been forced to downplay the degree of real creativity in his act in order to pander to road crowds and bookers
One definition of hack is that you [the stand-up comedian] are thinking about what the audience wants instead of what you think is funny...as opposed to being the artist that comes up with something new.
[T]here are also cases of simple coincidence and, often in the case of observational material, parallel thinking.
The line connecting Max Miller to modern comedians such as Michael McIntyre is by no means unbroken, but the fact is that the very form of stand-up evolved from music hall song, and started life as the front cloth comedy of variety.
[Ken Dodd] was the last of the front-cloth comedians, meaning they dropped a cloth behind you while they cleared up the stage from the Liberty Horses and got it ready for the man who pulled doves out of his jacket, and there you were, but with an act that had been burnished until it was a jewel. And he knew he was the last, for all the greats, from Max Miller on, had crossed the boards before him.
In 1929, he finally settled on Frank Randle and became a 'front-cloth' comic, performing his character sketch routines.
[C]omedians like Max Miller, Tommy Trinder, Ted Ray, Billy Russell, Suzette Tarri, Beryl Reid and Frankie Howerd performed something which was stand-up comedy in all but name. These performers were known as 'front-cloth comics.' The name derives from the staging of British variety theatre, in which acts which used the full stage--such as sketch comedians who normally used the set--alternated with ones which could be performed in front of the [stage] curtain--the front-cloth comedians...Front-cloth comedy existed at least as early as the 1920s...[British] [f]ront-cloth comedians...[survived] their US equivalents, the monologists, because British variety survived decades longer than American vaudeville...[F]ront-cloth comics on the variety theatres had used catchphrases, costumes and comic personas, their acts fleshed out with songs and even dances
American stand-up comedy has its beginnings in the minstrel shows of the early 1800s
Go to festivals, because that's where you get noticed by the media...[and] gauge [yourself against] everybody else.
I [Buddy Morra] go to the Montreal and Aspen comedy festivals, but I haven't seen much that's knocked me out.
The Chitlin' Circuit was a collection of all-black venues, clubs, [and] theaters--that was in the United States during the era of, basically racial segregation, and this is not just in the South my friend. This is in the North as well, where a lot of African-American families came north during what's called the Great Migration and a number of clubs opened up specifically in these neighborhoods--which were redlined--and subsequently launched some of the greatest music and comedy acts we've ever known. And so the Apollo Theater was in the chitlin circuit. Not only in it, the crown jewel.
The Chitlin' Circuit was African-American comedians performing for African-American audiences because comedy was segregated back then...But it was not acceptable in those days for a black comedian to address a white crowd, because as a comedian on stage, you are superior to your audience. You are giving them your point of view -- and in those days it wasn't allowed, so the Chitlin' Circuit alleviated that thing.
The Apollo began operating in 1934 during the Harlem Renaissance and became the most prized venue on the 'Chitlin' Circuit' during the time of racial segregation in the United States.
Comedians such as Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor and Moms Mabley were popular first in clubs on the 'Chitlin' Circuit' in urban hubs.
[Hugh Hefner's] clubs providing a bridge between the old-school resorts of the Catskill mountains and the comedy club explosion of the 1980s.
Hugh Hefner...decides in 1960...to open a club in Chicago called the Playboy Club and then opens a number of these clubs all around the country, creates this circuit where comedians...this is before comedy clubs.
When I started out in show business, there were no comedy clubs. Every nightclub in America had a comic...They [Playboy] had two showrooms, The Penthouse and The Playroom...When they're ready to start the show...The girl singer would go on and do 3 or 4 songs and then, she would finish, and we'd come on and we'd be doing like 45 minutes and she would do 15 like minutes
They [Playboy] gave you nothing...they did not pay transportation and they did not pay for the hotel room; you could eat there where the employees ate...and the top money at that time was a 1,000 dollars a week, and I did not get that; Jackie Gayle, he was the top comedian of the playboy clubs in those days you know, and I got $500 a week.
In March 1975 my agent, Mart Klein, secured a job in San Francisco, two weeks headlining the Playboy Club for fifteen hundred dollars per week
[A comedian] can talk about [their] experience, but [they] can't make fun of someone else's identity.
Thus, college comedians can mock those groups "liberal" students deride--Evangelical Christians, Scientologists, working-class rural males--yet they dare not even flirt with jokes about race, gender, and sexuality.
I stopped playing colleges...because they're way too conservative...in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody.
Judy gold is one of many famous comics, including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock who say they avoid playing college campuses, because they believe younger audiences can't take a joke.
It is notable that the majority of the most vociferous critics of today's student audiences--Seinfeld, Maher, Gottfried, Louis CK, Dennis Miller, Larry the Cable Guy--are middle-aged (or older), white, presumably heterosexual males...Ricky Gervais...too
I can't ever do the lucrative, corporate gigs that...because in that...people can get paid a lot of money for doing half an hour at a bankers' convention, but you have to be the sort of person that appears to please people...[and not treat them as] deficient
I define Christian comedy as clean comedy that can be good for the soul. I believe God wants us to laugh
I didn't start getting anywhere until...five years in, financially...even then, it was month to month [in New York City].
It took four or five years before I [Yakov Smirnoff] could make a living as a comedian.
I've [Jay Leno] always told comedians that if you can do this for seven years, I mean physically make it to the stage for seven years, you'll always make a living...You start to get paid at the end of the fourth or fifth year--I mean paid in terms of here's $500 dollars for one night, not $15 or $20 for a set.
The first paying position a comic can land is to emcee or host a show.
An emcee will make usually from $10-$35 a show. It's usually $25.
At the better chains, middle acts earn a weekly salary of $600 and up; headliners, anywhere from $2000 to $10,000, plus air fare and lodging - usually at the club's 'comedy condo' in town...The chief variable is drawing power, based on accumulated TV and movie credits.
If it's somebody starting off in the business it could be $1,500 a show. For somebody who's had some TV credits you could go from $4,500 to $7,500.
the famous comics have what's called a "door deal" and get paid based on the amount of people in the crowd.
It depends on the TV exposure of the comic, whether the comic draws and if he can command a higher ticket price.
Those T-shirts and CDs we sell are what we make our real money on...And when we do book a paying gig? We spend most of the money on transportation to get there.
Netflix is wooing superstar comics with eight-figure deals, including Dave Chappelle (a reported $60 million), Louis C.K. ($26 million), Amy Schumer ($20 million) and Jim Gaffigan ($10 million).
Hannibal Burress was the most popular comedian in Caponera's (2009) price range of $2,000.
Keith is one of the kings of the college circuit. A few years ago, he was the most-booked college comic, playing 120 campuses. He charges $2,300 for a single performance.
Headliners can reap $1,500 to $2,500 per church comedy show
A newer comic on the national circuit can earn anywhere from $1,250 to $2,500 per week, according to one prominent touring agent; more established names can pull in anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in the same period.
it's very hard to make that amount even on the road...To mislead someone with a figure that is beyond an exaggeration and just ridiculous.
Bigger name comics have been known to pay thousands for jokes and hire writers...After a famous comic has an HBO Special, they almost always hire writers to help them pump out more material.
Comics need material badly, especially once they get to be in demand--they've got to keep coming up with the stuff...Often, once a comic becomes successful, his requirements for material begin to exceed his ability to create it--particularly in the case of TV spots, which 'eat' it instantly.
[T]hat's another thing people do--write down jokes they see on TV, then sell them to other comics who don't realize what they're doing.