A comedian, otherwise known as a comic, is an entertainer who writes and performs routines designed to make people laugh. The word “comedienne” is sometimes used to refer to a female comic, but the term comedian is often used to refer to either a male or female performer. Comedians use various types of comedy to evoke laughter. The different types of comedy generally include stand-up comedy, slapstick, prop comedy, and impersonation. Some comedians may specialize in one particular type of routine, while others may use a combination in their acts.
One type of comic many people are familiar with is the stand-up comic. A stand-up comic basically comes in front of an audience and uses jokes, stories, and anecdotes to make the audience laugh. Some comedians may evoke laughter by poking fun at themselves, common life experiences, or politics. Others may entertain the crowd by tossing good-natured insults at members of the audience.
Many comedians use slapstick comedy as part of their routines. Slapstick is comprised of silly and exaggerated physical antics, such as tripping, falling, and faux hitting. Clowns often use slapstick as a primary part of their performances. Slapstick, because of its nature, frequently involves more than one participant. Some of the most famous slapstick routines were performed by comic groups such as the Three Stooges, The Keystone Cops, and Laurel and Hardy.
Prop comedy is another popular choice for comedians. It is similar to stand-up comedy, except that the comic uses a prop of some sort during his or her act. Comedians who perform as ventriloquists are considered prop comedians. Other prop comedians use costumes to assume different character roles, while others might design entire routines around a unique prop. For instance, one particular comedian by the name of Gallagher focused his entire routine around smashing various items with a mallet.
Impersonation and impressionism are still other tools used by comedians. For this type of comedy, comedians imitate or mock a famous person, oftentimes replicating the person’s voice and mannerisms. Again, some comedians perform this type of comedy exclusively, while others might include it as part of their routines. One of the most famous impressionists in comic history was Rich Little, who was able to imitate countless voices and impersonate a great number of celebrities.
Regardless of what type of comedy a comedian chooses to perform, the goal is to evoke laughter. While many comedians write their own material, some hire others to write material for them. Aside from the particular material a used, timing and delivery are crucial to a comedian's success. There is no special training or schooling required for a person to become a comedian, and a comic must rely on natural talent and skill. A comic could have the funniest material ever written, but if it is not presented properly, the audience will not laugh.