This article may need to be rewritten to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. (January 2018)
Observational comedy is a form of humor based on the commonplace aspects of everyday life. It is one of the main types of humor in stand-up comedy.In an observational comedy act, the comedian "makes an observation about something from the backwaters of life, an everyday phenomenon that is rarely noticed or discussed." The humor is based on the premise of "Have you ever noticed?" (or "Did you ever notice?"), which has become a comedy cliché. "Observational humor usually takes the form of long monologs of personal narrative; the punchline is either hard to predict or never came."
British comedians Richard Herring and Jo Caulfield wrote in an article that observational comedy "essentially involves saying 'Did you ever notice?' and then recounting something that will hopefully be universally familiar, but that won't necessarily have been consciously noted by your audience. If it's too obvious an observation it won't be funny (Have you ever noticed how buses always come in threes? Yes.) and if it's too oblique then it won't hit home."Eddie Izzard noted that a comedian's observations "need to be something that people can relate to, for the audience to pick up on it" in order to be considered a successful observational comedy act. Douglas Coupland writes, "Anybody can describe a pre-moistened towelette to you, but it takes a good observational comedian to tell you what, exactly is the 'deal' with them." He adds that observational comedy first of all depends on a "lone noble comedian adrift in the modern world, observing the unobservable-those banalities and fragments of minutiae lurking just below the threshold of perception: Cineplex candy; remote control units."
Observational comedy has been compared to sociology.
Although observational comedy became popular in the United States in the 1950s,one author suggests that it "has never been particularly new. Even the more 'old-fashioned' jokes it supposedly replaced were often themselves disguised commentaries based on observing human nature." Comedians, however, have long been making observational comedy, though it may not have been called that before 1950. Will Rogers, who was similar to Mark Twain in that his comedic styles observed American plainsman and made fun of him, said, "I just watch the government, and report their activities." Shelley Berman was one of the pioneers in the field. David Brenner's "brand of observational comedy became a staple for other standups", like Jerry Seinfeld, who has been called "the master of observational comedy". Seinfeld's "brand of accessible, refined observational humor largely defined 1980s comedy." A 1989 Los Angeles Times article wrote that Seinfeld is "clearly the standard of excellence in observational comedy", while Judd Apatow called Seinfeld "the greatest observational comedian who ever lived". George Carlin was a significant figure in observational comedy since the 1960s and influenced Seinfeld.
The British observational comedy tradition began with the Irish comedian Dave Allen's performances in the early 1970s.
Richard Zoglin considers the term "observational comedy" misleading because it is not "about politics or social issues or the comedian's own autobiography, but simply about everyday life."
Stand-up comedy is a comedic style in which a comedian performs in front of a live audience, speaking directly to them through a microphone. The performer is commonly known as a comic, stand-up comic, comedian, comedienne, stand-up comedian, or simply a stand-up. Comedians give the illusion that they are dialoguing, but in actuality, they are monologuing a grouping of humorous stories, jokes and one-liners, typically called a shtick, routine, act, or set. Some stand-up comedians use props, music or magic tricks to enhance their acts. Stand-up comedians perform quasi-autobiographical and fictionalized extensions of their offstage selves.
Jerome Allen Seinfeld is an American comedian, actor, writer and producer. He is best known for playing a semi-fictionalized version of himself in the sitcom Seinfeld, which he created and wrote with Larry David. The show aired on NBC from 1989 until 1998, becoming one of the most acclaimed and popular American sitcoms of all time. As a stand-up comedian, Seinfeld specializes in observational comedy. In 2004, Comedy Central named him the 12th-greatest stand-up comedian of all time.
George Denis Patrick Carlin was an American stand-up comedian, actor, social critic, and author. Regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comics of all time, he was dubbed "the dean of counterculture comedians". He was known for his dark comedy and reflections on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and taboo subjects. His "seven dirty words" routine was central to the 1978 United States Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which a 5–4 decision affirmed the government's power to censor indecent material on the public airwaves.
A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting foolish or employing prop comedy. A comedian who addresses an audience directly is called a stand-up comedian.
Brian Joseph Regan is an American stand-up comedian who uses observational, sarcastic, and self-deprecating humor. His performances are clean as he refrains from profanity and off-color humor. Regan's material typically covers everyday events, such as shipping a package with UPS, mortgages, and visits to the optometrist. While he does not define himself as youth-oriented, Regan makes frequent references to childhood, including little league baseball, grade school spelling bees, and science projects. He incorporates body language and facial expressions into his act.
Broadway Open House is network television's first late-night comedy-variety series. It was telecast live on NBC from May 29, 1950, to August 24, 1951, airing weeknights from 11pm to midnight. One of the pioneering TV creations of NBC president Pat Weaver, it demonstrated the potential for late-night programming and led to the later development of The Tonight Show.
Colin Edward Quinn is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. On television, he is best known for his work as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, where he anchored Weekend Update; on MTV's 1980s game show Remote Control, where he served as the announcer/sidekick; and as host of Comedy Central's late-night panel show Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. Notable film work includes his role as Dooey in A Night at the Roxbury, Dickey Bailey in the Grown Ups films and playing Amy Schumer's father in the film Trainwreck. Comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Chris Rock, and Dave Attell have cited Quinn as the quintessential "comic's comic" and New York comedian.
Catch a Rising Star is a chain of comedy clubs, founded in New York City in December 1972 and owned by Rick Newman. It has since spread to other areas, such as Las Vegas and New Jersey. Currently owned by Suzy Yengo Esq.
Judd Apatow is an American producer, screenwriter, comedian and actor. He is the founder of Apatow Productions, through which he produced and directed the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Funny People (2009), This Is 40 (2012), Trainwreck (2015), and The King of Staten Island (2020).
George Henry Wallace is an American comedian and actor.
David Gruber Allen is an American television and film actor and comedian, best known for his work on the 1990 TV series Higgins Boys and Gruber and playing guidance counselor Jeff Rosso on the Judd Apatow-produced comedy-drama Freaks and Geeks. He also played Mr. Kwest on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide and a town troubadour on Gilmore Girls. Allen had a minor role as an "Electrocuted Ghost" known as "Sparky" in the 2016 film Ghostbusters.
Carolines on Broadway is a venue for stand-up comedy located in Times Square in New York City on Broadway between 49th and 50th Street.
American humor refers collectively to the conventions and common threads that tie together humor in the United States. It is often defined in comparison to the humor of another country – for example, how it is different from British humor and Canadian humor. It is, however, difficult to say what makes a particular type or subject of humor particularly American. Humor usually concerns aspects of American culture, and depends on the historical and current development of the country's culture. The extent to which an individual will personally find something humorous obviously depends on a host of absolute and relative variables, including, but not limited to geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, and context. People of different countries will therefore find different situations funny. Just as American culture has many aspects which differ from other nations, these cultural differences may be a barrier to how humor translates to other countries.
The Comic Strip Live is the oldest stand-up comedy showcase club in New York City, located at 1568 Second Avenue.
Peter Benedict Holmes is an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and podcaster. Holmes is known for his cheerful personality, self-aware humor, and musings on spirituality and religion, which are all frequent themes across his works.
Funny People is a 2009 American black comedy-drama film written and directed by Judd Apatow, co-produced by Apatow Productions and Madison 23 Productions, and starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman. The film follows a famous comedian who is diagnosed with a terminal disease and tries to fix the relationships in his life while befriending an aspiring comedian.
Tommy Moore is an American comedian, clown, and motivational speaker versed in the styles of vaudeville and Catskill comedy. His act is filled with classic jokes, original material, props, costumes, improv, and misguided magic, drawing heavily on audience participation. Billed as The Professor of Fun, he has been called the "man who put the FUN back in Funny".
American-Jewish comedy is, in part, a continuation of the traditional role of humor in Jewish culture among historical and contemporary American performers. It has appealed to both Jewish and wider mainstream audiences. At various times in American history, the field of comedy has been dominated by Jewish comedians.
Jerry Before Seinfeld is a 2017 stand-up comedy film that follows comedian Jerry Seinfeld as he returns for a stand-up routine at the New York City comedy club, Comic Strip Live, which started his career. The album of the special was nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. This is his third special, and first with Netflix.
Talking Funny is a one-hour comedy television special featuring four comedians: Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld. In the informal conversation, which aired on HBO, the four comedians discussed subjects like race, crude language, the motivations driving their comedy, their inspirations, and the comedy industry in general.
One of the most popular styles of contemporary stand-up is that of "observational humor."
...whose brand of observational comedy became a staple for other standups, including Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser...
Brenner gave birth to a generation of "observational" comics - funny men who examined small moments closely and poked fun at life's minutiae. To borrow the now-infamous "Seinfeld" phrase, Brenner's act was the first to be about nothing.
Judd Apatow, who as a kid in the late ’70s became obsessed with Seinfeld’s stand-up, told me, “From the get-go he was the greatest observational comedian who ever lived—nobody was, or is, as funny as him.”
His influence can be seen everywhere from the political rants of Lewis Black to the observational comedy of Jerry Seinfeld.
This was quite an innovation, because up to this point there had been no tradition of observational comedy in British stand-up.