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STAND-UP RUNDOWN: Blame The Audience

Blaming the audience isn't usually productive, but is there merit to the idea that audience expectations are ruining comedy?

by Chuck king

What’s an easy way for comedians to lose the respect of Applause Break?

Blame a bad set on the audience.

Like great athletes, great comedians find a way to overcome obstacles and turn disadvantages into wins.

That being said, the lead story today’s Stand-Up Spotlight blames the audience for the current state of comedy – and it might have some good points. Omnipresent social media, pandering comedians and, ultimately cancel culture, all helped produce the current state of comedic unrest.

There are some curious points in the TV Insider article. Applause Break doesn’t agree with all of them, but they merit discussion.

Also in the Spotlight, Hasan Minhaj’s “emotional truth” is clashing with empirical reality; a look back at Michael Richard’s career demise along with some good advice from Jerry Seinfeld; and Michelle Wolf has a new special on the way.

Spend some time today considering the funny.

STAND-UP SPOTLIGHT – September 19, 2023

Comedy Is Dead And Audiences Killed It

Ask anybody, and they’d tell you that comedy isn’t what it used to be, for better or worse.

In 1971, during a time when race relations were at their worst, Norman Lear dropped one of the most profound TV shows of all time, All in the Family, to much success. When the world was at the apex of the greatest human progressions it would ever see–women’s liberation, sexual orientation, and civil rights–the series tackled those subjects head-on from both ends of the spectrum, and in the end, we as audiences grew more of an understanding of each other, our stances, all while laughing.

What the hell happened?


Hasan Minhaj says his stand-up stories are embellished but rooted in ’emotional truth.’ Because that’s comedy

STAND-UP RUNDOWN:Hasan Minhaj isn’t shy about stretching the truth to nail a joke.

Comedian and former “Patriot Act” host Minhaj told the New Yorker that the stories he tells in stand-up comedy are embellished but rooted in “emotional truth.”

“I use the tools of standup comedy — hyperbole, changing names and locations, and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories. That’s inherent to the art form,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in a statement responding to the article. “You wouldn’t go to a haunted house and say, ‘Why are these people lying to me?’ The point is the ride. Stand-up is the same.”

Jerry Seinfeld Might Have Been The Only Person Who Stood By Michael Richards After His Outburst

STAND-UP RUNDOWN:Michael Richards was a fan favorite during the entire run of Seinfeld, the famous sitcom “about nothing.” His character was empathetic and very different from his co-stars characters, who were borderline apathetic and self-involved.

However, in 2006, Michael Richards launched into a racist rant during a stand-up comedy gig at the Laugh Factory. The incident almost ended his career, and it took Jerry Seinfeld‘s support to prevent it.

Michelle Wolf Dodges Specialness

STAND-UP RUNDOWN:Aside from a few notable outliers, 2023 has been an unremarkable year for comedy specials. “Unremarkable” is not the same as “bad” — many of the specials out this year — especially from bigger and more established names like Wanda Sykes, Nate Bargatze, Hannah Gadsby, and Kevin Hart — are perfectly pleasant, well-produced, often enjoyable hours of comedy. But they’re not all that special, at least not in the way really exciting comedy specials can be when they’re done well: when there’s a coherent idea for an hour, the visuals are thoughtful and striking, and there’s a clear and unmistakable purpose for the show that goes beyond, “Happily, I have signed a contract to film a special.”


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