What makes comedy a little tough to deliver at times? You don’t always know what is funny. Also, some of the topics that are easy to make fun of – are the topics that you are not allowed to make fun of. Like religion (more on that later).
Creativity is like facing a velcro board sometimes. You just throw whatever items on it hoping that one of those lines would stick. That analogy is applicable in comedy. You just write whatever you know is funny to your peers and see which lines would elicit laughs from the audience. Add in delivery, timing and proper choice of words, you then discover which type of comedy in the list below fits your style.
Most stand-up comics would look up to Lenny Bruce and George Carlin as the purveyors of observational comedy. Upon a closer look, their take on daily life isn’t so different from the talking heads of their time. It just so happened that they have a funny way of expressing their observations without making it sound like news bytes or some bone-dry boring piece of political commentary on the radio.
It reminded some history enthusiasts how jesters get away with making fun of the king because they are allowed to tell the truth about what they see. Granted that they are funny. Carlin’s comic routines then come across as political commentary disguised as stand-up comic lines at some comedy special.
This is one comedy expertise that Weird Al Yankovic and Sacha Baron Cohen have mastered through the years. Weird Al Yankovic got away with satirizing the Central Intelligence Agency by rewriting the lyrics of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” into “Party in the CIA”. The typical criticisms thrown CIA’s way got reimagined in a colorful music video largely based on the lyrics that Yankovic provided.
Sacha Baron Cohen has discovered his niche in political satire largely in the film “The Dictator”. That film may or may have been inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s take on political commentary way back when his mustache does not remind people yet of Hitler. But as a whole, Cohen’s character, General Aladeen, seemed like a composite character that parodied Qaddafi and Kim Jong Il simultaneously from owning a harem to developing nuclear missile programs. Yeah, the parallels are obvious.
While it is easy to put Sacha Baron Cohen in this category since his most famous original characters are Borat and Ali G, one of the most memorable stand-up comics to deliver laugh-out loud skits onstage is Rex Navarette. This is because he managed to present characters that you can tell apart.
Mrs. Scott is that Filipino woman presented as an English teacher who believed in her own hype, oblivious to the fact of how thick her local accent is while speaking English. Maritess is that domestic helper who may or may not have worked for the Super Friends (more known today as the Justice League) who shared her experience of working under Superman et al. And Tito Boy is the uncle your parents warned you about when it comes to ill-advised sex advice. All characters that Navarette brought to life in his skits successfully.
Today, it’s one of the toughest types of comedy to deliver due to the onslaught of social justice warriors (SJW) and the political correctness crowd. But it did not deter its top practitioners like Seth Macfarlane to constantly push the envelope and simply trigger his audience to either outrage or knee-slapping kind of laughter.
It did not deter either the comeback of critically-acclaimed stand-up comic Dave Chapelle. While his comeback in itself spurned jokes in the line of “He’s not the real Dave Chapelle!”, the moment he started making his core audience laugh again in the same way he made his core base of haters cry outrage again for poking fun at the LGBT community, everyone had no doubt that Dave Chapelle is back. And he didn’t care who’d be offended as long as he gets to express himself onstage.
The uncomfortable truth about comedy is that it is funny whether you are offended or not. The true geniuses can elicit shock first and laughter later and everyone else who attempted humor in the same vein only succeeded in eliciting just shock. Then disgust because there is no humor whatsoever at it. The moment you find something funny, feel free to laugh. Then ask for forgiveness later in case you feel like going to hell for laughing.