Stand-up comedy is a comedy style where the performer speaks directly to the audience. Depending on the popularity of the artist, the size of the live audience can range from tens to several thousand people. However, the best, carefully crafted performances are filmed, and later recordings of the performances can be accessed globally. The style of the stand-up comedy and the themes that are spoken depend on the performer, it is not defined by any other rules, so the comedian has the freedom to make the performance as he wants if he thinks it can be presented in any funny way according to the audience.
Problems and the Negative Side
Yet some of the most popular stand-up comedians do not escape some negative reactions from critics because of the politically incorrect messages that are hidden in their jokes. For example, popular American comedian Dave Chappelle after one of his stand-up shows called Stick and Stones, has received criticism from journalists for insulting specific groups of people such as women, victims of sexual assault, Asians, and members of the LGBTQ community. Journalists and critics of stand-up performances are increasingly stressing that stand-up comedians should pay more attention and be more careful while they are talking about sensitive and relevant topics. This reveals that stand-up performances, especially in the USA, are also judged throughout the prism of social responsibility, they are expected to set a good example for society, they must contribute in a way to changing public attitudes to certain social problems, eliminating stereotypes, and promoting tolerance.
Is Stand-Up a Comedy Or Communicative Tool?
The original definitions of comedy proposed by Freud or Aristotle says that this genre is understood as a source of social critique, an artistic form of explanation that allows different things to be viewed differently. As a result, comedians talk about the most ongoing topics of the society in their performances. Some of the stand-up comedians are also considered and active because of the content values and knowledge in their venues, such as the intolerance Dick Grigory found in his performance themselves, and George Carlin defended freedom of speech. Such observations and arguments, although a form of humor, can act as a communicative tool for shaping public opinion.
Nowadays, stand-up performances or certain parts of them are posted on social media platforms. Depending on the strategy, stand-up comedians sell or upload older shows for free to increase their popularity. Thus, stand-up performances and communication on social networks provide an opportunity to constantly reach large audiences and, depending on the style and interests of stand-up comedians, their ideas reach topical social, political, or cultural issues and they become a kind of influencers. An inactive segment of society, apathetic to political and social problems, can become more politically active during the stand-up performances. People may be forced to think about certain topics of public interest during the performance, so potentially certain sections of the stand-up show may act as communicative tool, encouraging political activism and discussions.