Comedians aren’t just one type of person! There are dozens of different types, subsets, and countless influences that can make their comedy unique. Instead of just thinking about those you’ve seen doing stand-up specials on Netflix, here is a list of some of the significant types of comedians you should know about.
A good comedian can even tie these together to create a perfect set.
More commonly called dry humor, deadpan comedy is excellent because it gives you a blank canvas to bounce jokes off of. In comedy duos, this type of humor would be on the straight man who says things flatly and is more humorous in their play on words than how they say what they say. Although, to be fair, hearing someone say hilarious jokes in a flat voice can make it funnier!
The most common comedians lean heavily into slapstick humor. Slapstick comedy is physical, from gesturing and moving wildly to using the props around them. Having nonstick slapstick can be exhausting, but pros like Damon Wayans Jr can mix it into the rest of his jokes in a way that it comes out funnier. Although there’s no way to set formulas to figure out how much or little you can use, you can edit your sets later to make it perfect if you play it by ear.
Jokes about sex, bodily functions, and bodily urges are some of the most basic on earth. This is considered ‘low brow’ because nearly everyone can make jokes like this: Almost everyone has. When done well and shaken up some, it can be hilarious. Many LGBT+ comedians are taking this old-style and are turning it around to make light of their life, which is breathing new life into the genre.
Topical humor is based around the events going on around the world, or in your life, at this moment. Comedy shows that go out every week use this to keep up to date and gain laughs from surprising people how quickly they can turn around the jokes. Topical humor ages like milk because many forget topical information within a year after it happens. This is better for shows that you can plan around what will happen once.
If you’ve seen any Mel Brooks movie, you’ve gotten a taste of satire. Satire is a specific type of comedy that has to be carefully planned out and intelligent. Even if it’s done well, it can seem to punch down at someone who’s already in the wrong position. Satire aims to punch up unjust power dynamics by mocking them and putting a magnifying glass on what’s wrong with them. It’s essential to heavily plan out any sets if you want to implement this type of humor.
Although having parody listed directly under satire may raise some eyebrows: these are different genres. Satire may surprise audiences by mocking and sarcastically punching up: but the mockery is more earnest mocking through imitation. Like celebrity impersonators or most skits on SNL, a parody is out there to lean into the parts of a character or person that stand out and make it even funnier.