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sakura's avatar

What makes a good comedian a good comedian?

Asked by sakura (8213 points ) October 14th, 2009

I have just recently been to watch the most awsome Billy Connolly and found my self virtually passed out as I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so much, it wasn’t so much always what he was saying (as sometimes you knew what was coming) but they way he said the joke!
I was wondering what makes you laugh when you are watching a comedian? Is it timing? joke they told? the way they tell it or all 3??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzZzGxReXmo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyW0riD54nY&feature=related
a couple of examples above for those who haven’t heard of him

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25 Answers

RareDenver's avatar

I think the ones that can make you laugh at yourself are the best, where you can totally relate to the funny situation, and say things like “It’s funny cos it’s true!”

loser's avatar

Laughter is always a good sign!!!

sakura's avatar

Just to throw in the mix, is humour different across the globe? Do we Brits have a totally different humour to the rest of the world or is that a myth?

Capt_Bloth's avatar

It’s like wildpotato once said about comedy “Just be funny or shut the f*#% up.”

I like dry humor. I also respect a comedian who doesn’t rely on toilet humor.

Val123's avatar

The ones I find funniest ones that are exaggerations of the truth. They’re subtle, too. (Richard Pryor: He’s been asleep all night, has to pee but doesn’t know it until you know what SLAPS him in the chest (and he smacks himself right below his throat) and wakes him up!!)

evegrimm's avatar

My favorite comedian is Eddie Izzard.

I like him because he’s hellishly funny, rambles on about f**k all, and makes points about things that are true.

(His history-themed sketches are hilarious. And the more you know about history, the more you realise how much truth is in his jokes.)

His timing is good, but his miming/acting is part of what makes him so funny. Even now, when I listen to a recording of him, I can “see” him in my mind, and knowing what he’s doing (evil giraffe comes to mind) makes me laugh more than just if I listened to him.

And he very rarely makes any “potty” or “dirty” humor. (If it wasn’t for the f-bombs he drops everywhere, he’s almost family friendly.)

Zen's avatar

@sakura Get outta my way – I’m an Aromatherapist!

I don’t know why he’s so funny – must be intelligence and circumstance – but he is hysterical and the only one since Raw (at the time) to literally make me fall off my chair laughing. Billy is the best!

frdelrosario's avatar

Timing is everything.

And the joke has to resonate with the audience, whether one person or 1 million.

Those two things are universal. I imagine everything else is a matter of taste.

Zen's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra is correct, of course. Timing is everything.

Course, it helps to be funny and have good timing.

Mom walks in on her little boy in the bathtub holding his testicles. He says Mommy, are these my brains??? She says, not yet son, not yet.

Val123's avatar

@zen LOL! when my son was about 3, maybe 4, I had reason to talk to him about his testicles. Don’t remember why, maybe he had a rash or something. Anyway, as I started to talk he interrupted me impatiently and said, “They’re not tetacules! They’re BALLS!!” Which is WHY kids need two parents, aye!

aprilsimnel's avatar

@sakura – I think it’s a certain element of British comedy that is considered different, the Oxbridge/University-based humour, and I’m including non-Oxbridge schools in that. It’s a lot more erudite and there’s a lot of word play. Benny Hill is the same “comic violence, pratfalls, tits n’ arse” jokes like the rest of the world. Also, I think Brits are a lot more honest and open about social class and because it’s just another part of their society, they will openly goof on it, whereas in a culture like the US’s, where everyone pretends they’re all middle-class, jokes about class are more circumscribed.

evegrimm's avatar

@RareDenver—that is a great sketch.

I like the “Flag” sketch and the “Cake or Death?” one. Somewhat infamous, that second one. :P

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

This guy is the funniest I’ve ever heard. The accent doesn’t hurt, either.

Dr_C's avatar

Not being named Dane Cook.
Also… i think it has to do with timing, not over stating your punch line and the ability to look and act either clueless or blase about the actual punchline of your bit a la Zack Galafinakis or Daniel Tosh.

sakura's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I have been to the place in NZ where he was just before the sketch!!

Went to see him life last weekend which sparked my question!!

He is SOOOO FUNNY!!

Austinlad's avatar

Timing, material, delivery. Jack Benny had it all.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Timing, expression you can make something unfunny funny by the way the comedian uses expression with it, diction you have to understand what is being said, the ability to feel the pulse of the audiance.

Get a DVD of “Bill Cosby, Himself” and you will see a master at work with out haveing to result to bedroom humor or gutter language.

Middle_Class_American's avatar

A number of things makes a comedian funny. It’s all about the delivery. You can give 10 comedians the same joke and I bet they will all deliver it differently some being funnier than others. The material also has to fit the comedians personality or persona

faye's avatar

@sakura I just spent a couple of hours laughing til I cried. Thank you!! What a bedtime treat!

aprilsimnel's avatar

A good comedian has to be willing to tell the truth in an amusing way. Not for nothing was the jester an important member of the court. He had to be careful, sure, but the jester was the only one who could get away with telling the king the truth and would probably not be executed.

Austinlad's avatar

Material + timing = funny.

jayleno's avatar

And what about stealing the “Tonight Show” from Conan O’brien and also stealing material from Howard Stern? Doesn´t that make you a good comediant as well?

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