Most of us are situational comedians, with varying degrees of skill and success.
That is to say, we find humour in the moment. Perhaps as a gut reaction to something we just experienced. Maybe somebody says something which puts us in mind of a funny story.
Most of don’t plan humour…that’s tough to do. Otherwise, we could all be stand-up comedians and there’d be nothing special about it. We need to be stimulated to produce comedy. And often, the comedy is only funny in that moment.
That’s why it’s situational. And that’s what leads us to retell it later on with the caveat that, “you had to be there”.
It’s far easier to be a situational comedian than to be a stand-up comedian, because the audience is predisposed towards finding the comedy amusing. They’re right there with you, experiencing the same inputs. And if they know you as a situational comedian, they’re more inclined to find it amusing.
Sometimes I see comedians on TV, and they just aren’t funny to me. I’ve no idea why the audience is laughing when I think the material and/or delivery is horrible. Maybe it’s because the audience is there to experience comedy–again, they’re predisposed towards laughing because of the environment. Or maybe they just have poor taste.
I can’t say for sure what the difference is between good comedians and hacks, but I suspect it has to do with their skill as situational comedians. I think that the successful comedians understand that they have to make the audience care about their act. They have to set up the proper environment. Whereas the others just spout their material in the hope that someone will laugh.
I think I’m a pretty decent situational comedian. Some days are better than others, for sure. I do pretty well on the Battle of the Bards stage, but that’s with an audience who largely knows me. I suspect that if I were to go onstage in front of an audience who didn’t know me, I wouldn’t fare so well. I think that if I decided to work at it, I could become a decent stand-up comedian. But that’s not the path I’m headed down, so I don’t expect to find out anytime soon.
Know thy limits, right?