The fate of stand-up comedy today


Clark Herring – Special to Southern News

There is no doubt that more comedy has been produced in the last few years than any other time in history. Television, film and social media have been outlets for people around the world to share and create things, especially comedy.

Artists, such as Key & Peele, Amy Schumer and Louis C.K are just some of the raw, fresh talents having made a rise in the past few years. With work being produced by big time corporate studios, the output of the comedy is a crafty, idealized, re-imagined perception of the comedic genius.

But with such work proving to make out-of-the-box material, people are questioning the livelihood of comedy’s origin, stand-up. Has stand up lost its way in this newfound world of comedy?

There is no doubt that today, it is harder than ever to become a professional comedian. With the creation of social media, and the concept of sharing things, thousands of people across the world produce comedy and put it on the internet for everyone to view. This makes it hard to find just one good act. In the past, one would write material, go to a venue and audition for the manager, then hope to get the job and progress from there.

Today, much of that process is still very real for today’s up-and-coming acts. Amy Schumer, actress and producer, got her start doing stand-up comedy in 2004, and now has her own television show, “Inside Amy Schumer,” and produced the recent box office hit, “Trainwreck.” Although Amy has done such big work, she has stand up specials that broadcast on Comedy Central.

Louis C.K., comedian and writer for the show, “Louie,” has scenes of his New York stand-up shows in every episode. They are pivotal to the episode’s story because often, the jokes told at his shows provide the inspiration for the entire episode.

Another popular stand-up comedian, Hannibal Buress, got his start in stand-up before moving on to co-host “The Eric Andre Show,” play Lincoln on “Broad City,” and also starred in his own show, “Why? with Hannibal Buress,” on Comedy Central this past summer.

Last year, he toured the U.S., visiting colleges and larger venues, including the Lyman Center in April. Buress also gained attention by making jokes about Bill Cosby’s rape scandal. The jokes were so well received that many people became positive that the accusations against Cosby were true. Buress was only trying out a new skit with his audiences, but got more than he bargained for.

It is because of these endeavors that comedians love stand-up. It gives them the chance to test out their ideas, and learn new ones. The art of stand-up comedy, in and of itself, is aesthetically pleasing to both the audience members, and the artists.

There is something so genuine about speaking directly to audience, captivating them with your speech, and making them laugh that makes comedians happier than anything else they do.

Photo Credit: Dan Nguyen

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