The Art and Science of Comedy: Stand-up and Improv for Beginners

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The Art and Science of Comedy: Stand-up and Improv for Beginners

Hello, comedy enthusiasts! In our journey to become the funniest versions of ourselves, it’s crucial to understand the fundamentals of comedy, whether we’re taking online comedy improv classes or stand-up comedy courses. We’ve synthesized some fascinating insights for you below:


  1. Comedy as Life Experience: It’s often said that there isn’t a strict formula for funny; instead, it’s about how we adapt our life experiences and observations into comedic material. Comedic actor Christian believes that what makes something funny is the ability to comment on everyday life and take the familiar, turning it on its head.
  2. Influence and Inspiration: Learning from comedic greats can provide endless inspiration. Observing their effortless craft, we realize that the essence of their comedy was genuine, engaging, and timeless.
  3. Humor is a Universal Connector: Though we may laugh at different things, we all laugh. As Mark Twain said, “The secret source of humor is not joy, it’s sorrow.” Humor can create a shared bond, serving as a universal language we can all understand and relate to.
  4. Comedy is Worthy of Study: Peter McGraw, director of the Humor Research Lab (aka HURL) at the University of Colorado Boulder, shares that humor is often overlooked as a worthy area of study. HURL is committed to uncovering what makes things funny, ranging from paper-and-pencil surveys to novel experimental conditions.
  5. Comedic Theories: Comedy has long-standing theories tied to it. ‘Superiority Theory’ argues we laugh at misfortunes of others, ‘Release Theory’ claims humor allows us to vent repressed tensions, and ‘Incongruity Theory’ suggests we laugh at surprising inconsistencies.
  6. Benign Violation Theory: One comprehensive theory HURL is exploring is the ‘Benign Violation Theory’, which suggests humor arises from situations that are threatening, amiss, or wrong, but at the same time safe or ‘benign’. Context matters in comedy – what one person finds amusing, another may not.
  7. Humor is Subjective: Recognize that everyone’s sense of humor is different, shaped by individual experiences, values, culture, and beliefs. What is considered humorous to you may not be for another – that’s the beauty of comedy.
  8. Be Authentic and Embrace Your Perspective: Comedy is not about trying to fit a particular mold or character. It’s about being genuine and having a unique point of view. As Christian put it, “everybody’s funny” in their own right.

To sum it up, whether you’re looking to excel in online comedy improv or stand-up comedy classes, understanding these key points will take you a long way. Comedy is a blend of art and science, subject to personal interpretation. Keep in mind that there may not be a clear-cut formula for funny, but the pursuit of understanding humor is a rewarding journey in itself. Remember, as Roger Rabbit said, “My whole purpose in life is to make people laugh.” And isn’t that a fantastic purpose to strive for?


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