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A comedian (comedienne for females) or comic (a professional comedian/comedienne) is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy. A comedian who addresses an audience directly is called a stand-up comic.
A popular saying, variously quoted but generally attributed to Ed Wynn, is, "A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny", which draws a distinction between how much of the comedy can be attributed to verbal content and how much to acting and persona.
Since the 1980s, a new wave of comedy, called alternative comedy, has grown in popularity with its more offbeat and experimental style. This normally involves more experiential, or observational reporting, e.g. Alexei Sayle, Daniel Tosh, Louis C.K. and Malcolm Hardee. As far as content is concerned, comedians such as Tommy Tiernan, Des Bishop, and Joan Rivers draw on their background to poke fun at themselves, while others such as Jon Stewart, and Ben Elton have very strong political and cultural undertones. Contemporary comedians include Conan O'Brien Many comics achieve a cult following while touring famous comedy hubs such as the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, the Edinburgh Fringe, and Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia. Often a comic's career advances significantly when they win a notable comedy award, such as the Edinburgh Comedy Award (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 or Charlyne Yi. However, a comic's stand-up success does not guarantee a film's critical or box office success.
History of Comedians
Comedians can be dated back to 425 BCE, when Aristophanes, a comic author and playwright wrote ancient comedy plays. He wrote 40 comedies, 11 of which survive and are still being performed. Aristophanes' comedy style took the form of satyr plays.
The English poet and playwright William Shakespeare wrote a fair amount of 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.
Charles Chaplin was one of the most popular comedians of the early 1900s. He wrote comedic silent films such as Modern Times and The Kid. His films still have a major impact on comedy in films today.
Another popular form of modern-day comedy is talk shows where comedians make fun of current news or popular topics. Such comedians include Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Daniel Tosh, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, and Chelsea Handler.
A third form of modern-day comedy are television programs in which many comedians band together to make skits, such as Saturday Night Live. These shows often receive high ratings, likely due to the fact that many comedians band together to create jokes, rather than one comedian creating his own jokes.
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- "Simpson's Contemporary Quotations, 1988". Retrieved 2008-04-01.
- Aristophanes. Lysistrata. pp. ix.
- Sigler, Michael S (1 May 2001). "Charlie Chaplin Biographaphy". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- "'stand-up comedy' definition". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- Bibel, Sara (3 November 2013). "'Saturday Night Live' With Host Kerry Washington and Musical Guest Eminem Delivers Its Highest Rating Since October 5". Retrieved 2 December 2013.