Who Inspires You Essay

The Relevance of Stand-up Comedy in the 21st century culture

The existence of stand-up comedy in its many forms and in a different culture is arguably one of the oldest forms of humorous expression. While it might have been considered a form of oral literature in the past, it has evolved to become a career path for a large number of successful individuals and a continuous practice by amateur comics. Stand-up comedy has become a significant mode of entertainment in modern culture. This is evidenced by the successful careers of professional comedians like Kevin Hart. His style of comedy is characterized by his goofy and mostly self-criticizing take on personal experiences. His work inspires and entertains his audiences worldwide. His presence in all forms of media is facilitated by the populace’s vast use of internet. The use of his work as a sample comic is thus justified. Stand-up comedy has continuously evolved over the years from simple ‘joke slanging’ to an objective organized and rehearsed art form[ CITATION MMc70 \l 1033 ].

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The personal touch accorded to the performance of stand-up comedy has led to its appreciation as a performance art and contributes to its popularity. Stand-up comedy as a performance art form revolves around an artist engaging with a live audience about experiences in the world with a humorous twist. Adrian Saunders, a promoter of amateur stand-up comedy, explains why it has become popular. He states that, “Stand-up comedians are granted the social license to express their thoughts  but do not dare to say it explicitly.  Comedy is revered since it recreates life experiences and initiates laughter.  Comedy holds up a mirror to the conversations that dominate our society and allows them to be.” (Saunders). This is achieved by examining issues like; family, education, politics, health and security. The widespread consumption of stand-up comedy, therefore, necessitates a study on its effects on society. The questions asked thus are; what are the effects of Stand-up comedy on its audience? Is this art form relevant in society? Stand-up comedy plays an pivotal part in unifying diverse cultures. Race and racism, gender and ethnicity form an essential part of comic material consumed in the form of stand- up comedy. By using such issues in his/her material, the comic creates awareness and address the issues by making them appear light.

A common bond in the form of humor is formed and helps eliminate tensions ascribed to historical injustices. In his paper on the role of comedy in culture, Lawrence Mintz observes that ‘stand-up comedy emerges a vital social phenomenon and is the most compelling form of comedy among all the manifestations of humor in popular culture (Mintz). This art form inspires thought and bears the opinions of a ‘normal’ human being  nad brings to light most issues that would have been ignored. Stand-up comics act as mediators of political issues. This is done by mocking historical and current political figures. By engaging in such political issues, the artists create a point of view which informs the audience, analyses key issues, and gives an opinion on the subject matter. In his doctorate dissertation paper, Prof. Nathan Andrew Wilson explores the history of stand-up politics and examines its relevance as rhetoric to political issues. He argues that humorous texts can provoke useful political information (Wilson) Awareness on political issues prompts the public to demand accountability from policy makers. The use of political satire also inadvertently supplements political agenda and may form political orientations audiences. While it may seem unlikely, the use of comedy to convey vital information has become the norm. David Secko, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Concordia University, mentions the use of stand-up comedy in an article on the method used by science journalists to convey information. In reasoning, he says “this was not bent on downplaying science journalism, but developing dry scientific information into the interesting facts it represents.” (Secko) The same argument holds regarding the use of stand-up comedy.

While creating material for their acts, these artistes often research on the subject of interest. This information trickles down to their audience albeit on a humorous platform. While this generates debate on the efficacy of comedy as a medium of knowledge and education, it is also evident that it is a platform for conveying technical information. The role of stand-up comics goes beyond their acts on stage; they are celebrity role models. An article in from the website, Addicted to success, Joel points out other reasons why Kevin Hart is a success. These ideas demonstrate that in addition to on-stage talent, other factors contribute to an individual’s success. Humility, entrepreneurship, persistence and a healthy attitude towards life are traits that would result in success in any field (Joel). An outlook on Hart’s childhood also inspires hope and promises success for those whose circumstances seem bleak.  Hart cites, “ people might loathe you for being distinct and leading a life that is contradicts with what society expects. However, deep down, these individuals wish they were valiant enough to do the same (Hart in Addicted2Sucess.com) (Joel) Kevin Hart encourages s to embrace our uniqueness.

The role of Stand-up comedy and its artistes is, therefore, greater than an onstage derivative. These comics become actors and eventually role models who influence their audiences off-stage as well. In conclusion, the effect of Stand-up comedy as rhetoric on global issues today is quite significant. Even though its form usually downplays the issues being addressed, its effect on global perspectives cannot be ignored. Although arguments may be presented on to support the efficacy of stand-up comedy in addressing issues by making them comical, it facilitates a humorous insight on issues, inspires audiences and acts as a medium for information. This art form has grown from a mere entertainment to a medium that addresses issues faced in society. It is, therefore, an important platform for appreciating humor and is vital in society.

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