a complete history of stand up comedy in America

Jokes! Laughter! Buzz! Excitement!

These are just some of the words you might use to describe “stand up comedy.” But if you described stand up comedy that way, you’d be doing a horrible job. And that’s because you don’t know anything about comedy in America.

Much like jazz, stand up comedy is often viewed as one of the only truly “American” art forms. But, shamefully, a lot of people today (including comedians themselves) actually don’t know the true history of the art. The backstory of stand up is just as important as ever – as topics like “political correctness,” a constant theme throughout haha yesteryear, are super trendy right now. Subjects like transgender people are posh, a la mode, and other french words that mean “cool.” By looking backwards, comedians have an opportunity to “learn from our mistakes” .. .and all that stuff. Being informed about our past allows us to be more analytical when looking forward .. .I guess. Pretty much any cliche argument your friend Sharon uses to justify her degree in history will also apply to learning about the history of comedy.

Which is why I’ve done extensive research in order to pull together a highly, highly comprehensive history of this American institution, including facts that I guarantee you haven’t heard before. After all, how can we respect the art form of comedy today if we have no understanding of how we got here? (Wow, I snuck in another cliche!) Let’s take a dive into the “ocean” that is funniness in America, shall we? Let the waves of history wash over you. Lick the salty taste of history on your lips, smell the rich stand up in the fresh breeze, and.. .well, you get it.

Continue reading “a complete history of stand up comedy in America”