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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A comedian (comedienne is used sometimes if female) or comic is a person who seeks to entertain members of 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 comedian can be distinguished from a clown because clowns most often use slapstick, wear costumes and makeup, and engage in buffoonery, whereas comedians most often focus on a more verbal style of humor, telling jokes.

A popular saying, variously quoted but generally attributed to Ed Wynn,[1] 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 late 1980s, a new wave of comedy, called alternative comedy, grew in popularity with its more offbeat and experimental style. This normally involves more experiential, or observational reporting, e.g. Andy Kaufman, Alexei Sayle and Malcolm Hardee. Alternative comedy is now arguably the mainstream.

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, Bill Hicks and George Carlin have very strong political and cultural undertones. Contemporary comedians include Conan O' Brien and Jay Leno.

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 if.comedy award (formerly the Perrier comedy award). Comics sometimes foray into other areas of entertainment, such as film and television, when they have become much better known. eg. Dara Ó Briain.

See also



Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Comedy article)

From Wikiquote

The Marx Brothers were a popular team of sibling comedians who appeared in vaudeville, stage plays, film, and television.

Comedy has a popular meaning (stand-up, along with any discourse generally intended to amuse), which differs from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in Ancient Greece. The theatrical genre can be simply described as a dramatic performance pitting two societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Comedy contains variations on the elements of surprise, incongruity, conflict, repetitiveness, and the effect of opposite expectations, and there are many recognized genres.


  • What we eventually run up against are the forces of humourlessness, and let me assure you that the humourless as a bunch don't just not know what's funny, they don't know what's serious. They have no common sense, either, and shouldn't be trusted with anything.
    • Martin Amis, "Political Correctness: Robert Bly and Philip Larkin" (1997)
  • By calling him humourless I mean to impugn his seriousness, categorically: such a man must rig up his probity ex nihilo.
    • Martin Amis, Experience (2000), Part I: "Failures of Tolerance"
  • Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.
  • It is the duty of the humor of any given nation in time of high crisis to attack the catastrophe that faces it in such a manner as to cause the people to laugh at it in such a way that they cannot die before they are killed.
  • It is not funny that anything else should fall down, only that a man should fall down ... Why do we laugh? Because it is a gravely religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.
  • A joke's a very serious thing.
  • Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth, or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humour?
    • Frank Moore Colby, (1926) The Colby Essays, Vol. 1., "Satire and Teeth". Reported in Robert Andrews, The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, Columbia University Press. (1993) ISBN 0231071949. p. 431.
  • Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.
    • Christopher Morley, as quoted in An Enchanted Life : An Adept's Guide to Masterful Magick‎ (2001) by Patricia Telesco, p. 189
  • I'd like to make you laugh for about ten minutes. Though I'm gonna be on for an hour.
  • Nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that Humour excites in those who lack it.
  • A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.
    • Ludwig Wittgenstein, as quoted in "A View from the Asylum" in Philosophical Investigations from the Sanctity of the Press (2004), by Henry Dribble, p. 87


  • Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.
    • Karl Barth, reported in Mary Cox Garner (2004). The Hidden Souls of Words, SelectBooks, Inc. p. 143. ISBN 1590790596.
  • As soon as You realize Everything's a Joke,being The Comedian is the only Thing that makes Sense
  • Comedy is tragedy plus time.
    • Carol Burnett, reported in Marty Grothe (2004). Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit and Wisdom from History's Greatest Wordsmiths, HarperCollins. p. 126. ISBN 0060536993.
  • There are two thoughts that will ensure success in all you do; (1) Don't tell everything you know, and (2) until Ace Ventura, no actor had considered talking through his ass.
    • Jim Carrey, reported in Patrick Combs; Jack Canfield (2003). Major in Success, Ten Speed Press. p. 60. ISBN 1580085326.
  • The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays the part.
    • Miguel de Cervantes, reported in Marty Grothe (2004). Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit and Wisdom from History's Greatest Wordsmiths, HarperCollins. p. 126. ISBN 0060536993.
  • If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And, if I can persuade you to laugh at a particular point that I make, by laughing at it you acknowledge it as true.
    • John Cleese, reported in Nicki Joy (2003). What Winners Do to Win!: The 7 Minutes a Day That Can Change Your Life, John Wiley and Sons. p. 113. ISBN 0471265772.
  • Humor is the contemplation of the finite from the point of view of the infinite.
    • Christian Morgenstern, reported in Mary Cox Garner (2004). The Hidden Souls of Words, SelectBooks, Inc. p. 142. ISBN 1590790596.
  • Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.
    • Will Rogers, reported in Geoff Tibballs (2004). The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners, Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 122. ISBN 0786714077.
  • Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.
    • Peter Ustinov, reported in Geoff Tibballs (2004). The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners, Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 122. ISBN 0786714077.
  • The man with the real sense of humor is the man who can put himself in the spectator's place and laugh at his own misfortunes.
    • Bert Williams, reported in Jacqueline Sweeney (1997). Incredible Quotations: 230 Thought-Provoking Quotes With Prompts to Spark Students' Writing, Thinking and Discussion, Teaching Resources/Scholastic. p. 26. ISBN 0590963783.

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Simple English

A comedian is a person who tells jokes, or acts in comedies. Some people use the word comedienne to refer to female comedians. A comedian can also be called a comic or a comic actor.

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