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Reviews
"If you like Russell Peters, the "Axis of Evil," or Chris Rock, you'll LOVE Indian Invasion Comedy!" - B & N
"Five top Desi comics, one totally outrageous DVD!" - AVS TV Network
"Perfect, laugh-infested entertainment." - Amazon Review
"Finally, a DVD showcasing the talents of DesiNation's best." - Amazon Review
"Chock-full of bits from five of the funniest Indian stand-up comedians today." - Center Stage Chicago

DVD Info

Have you ever wondered:

"Why don't Indian women want to marry Indian men?"
"What does the red dot on the forehead really mean?"

Two hours of comedy, including exclusive backstage interviews!

A Wrench In The Works Entertainment is proud to present five of the most talented Indian stand up comedians in North America, taped live before a sold out audience in Hollywood, California.

Blowing aside political correctness, these five hilarious Indian comics masterfully break down every imaginable stereotype while covering subjects including politics, racism, dating, childhood, pop-culture, and being a gay Indian in America.

With no topic off-limits, the result is pure comedy: raw, revealing, and wildly entertaining.

If you like Russell Peters, the Axis of Evil, and Allah Made Me Funny, you'll love this DVD.

Indian Invasion Comedy brings these enormously talented comedians together for two hours of nonstop, side-splitting entertainment you can't see anywhere else. Bonus features include exclusive backstage interviews, and widescreen format.

Stand Up Comedy

Stand-up comedy is a style of comedy where the performer speaks directly to the audience, with the absence of the theatrical "fourth wall". A person who performs stand-up comedy is known as a stand-up comic, stand-up comedian (comedienne if female) or more informally stand up. It is usually performed by a single comedian, with the aid of a hand-held microphone (sometimes, however, the comic will opt to keep the microphone in the stand so he or she may use both hands for visual effect, as is the case of Ron White). The comedian usually recites a fast-paced succession of humorous stories, short jokes (called "bits"), and one-liners, which comprise what is typically called a monologue, routine or act. Some stand-up comedians use props, music or magic tricks to enhance their acts. Stand-up comedy is often performed in comedy clubs, bars, colleges and theaters. However, there is no real restriction on where the craft can be performed. Many smaller venues hold "open mic" events, where amateur comedians perform comedy before a live audience, offering a way for such performers to hone their craft and possibly break into the business. In North America, many comedy clubs feature the now-iconic brick wall as the backdrop for stand-up performances.

Many stand-up routines are similar to one-man shows, with the main difference being the expectations of the audience, who, in some cases, expect a relatively steady stream of "laughs". This in turn affects the aims of the performer, who is under great pressure to deliver those laughs. If the performer cannot coax laughs out of the crowd, sometimes the crowd will poke fun at the comedian, a practice known as heckling.

Stand-up comedy is difficult to master partly because the comedian is at the mercy of the audience, which is an integral element of the act. An adept stand-up comedian must nimbly play off the mood and tastes of any particular audience, and adjust his or her routine accordingly. Stand-up is an art form that is openly devoted to getting laughs from an audience above all else (unlike theatrical comedy, which creates comedy within the structure of a play and with character and situation). The skills attributed to stand-up are diverse; it is often necessary for a stand-up comic to simultaneously assume the roles of a writer, editor, performer, promoter, producer and technician.

One hallmark of a master stand-up comedian is the ability to not only face down a "heckler", but win over and entertain the rest of the crowd with a witty retort. Many stand-up comedians work for years to develop 45 minutes of material, and usually perform their bits repeatedly, slowly perfecting them over time. Actor-comedian Will Ferrell has called stand-up comedy hard, lonely and vicious.

Despite the name, the comedian's posture is one of the least important aspects of stand-up comedy. Some will sit on a stool during all or part of his monologue; Martin Mull has sometimes used an easy chair. A paraplegic can do stand-up comedy just as effectively as a person in good health. The term "sit-down comic" is usually pejorative in nature. The most important quality a stand-up comic needs is the ability to induce laughter.

With more than 70,000 visitors, German comedian Mario Barth established the world record for the most visitors in a stand-up comedy show on July 12, 2008 in the olympic stadium of Berlin.

US history

Stand-up comedy has its roots in various traditions of popular entertainment of the late 19th century including vaudeville, English Music Halls, Minstrel shows, humorist monologues (by personalities such as Mark Twain, a notable master), and circus clown antics. Comedians of this era often donned an ethnic persona (African, Scottish, German, Jewish, etc) and built a routine based on popular stereotypes. Jokes were generally broad and material was widely shared.

The fathers of modern American stand-up comedy, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Fred Allen, Milton Berle, and Frank Fay all came from vaudeville. They spoke directly to the audience, in front of the curtain, known as performing "in one." Frank Fay gained acclaim as a "masters of ceremonies" at New York's Palace Theater and is credited with creating the style of 20th century stand-up.

Nightclubs and resorts became the new breeding ground for stand-ups. Acts like Alan King, Danny Thomas, Don Rickles, and Jack E. Leonard flourished in these new arenas.

In the 1950s and into the 1960s, led by Mort Sahl, stand-ups began developing their acts in small folk clubs (like San Francisco's hungry i or New York's Bitter End). These comedians added an element of social satire and expanded both the language and boundaries of stand-up venturing into politics, race relations, and sexual humor. Lenny Bruce became known as a "sick" comic when he used language that sometimes led to his arrest. Other notable comics from this era include Woody Allen, Shelley Berman, and Bob Newhart. Also some African-American comedians such as Redd Foxx, George Kirby, Bill Cosby, and Dick Gregory began to cross over to white audiences during this time.

Phyllis Diller ventured out as the first solo female stand-up comic, opening the door for other funny women such as Joan Rivers, Lily Tomlin, Elaine Boosler and Roseanne Barr.

Stand-up in the 1970s saw several entertainers becoming major stars based on stand-up comedy performances. Richard Pryor and George Carlin followed Lenny Bruce's acerbic style to become icons. Stand-up expanded from clubs, resorts, and coffee houses into major concerts in sports arenas and amphitheaters. Steve Martin and Bill Cosby had levels of success with gentler comic routines. The older style of stand-up comedy (no social satire) was kept alive by Rodney Dangerfield and Buddy Hackett, who enjoyed revived careers late in life. Television programs such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show launched the careers of other stand-up comedians.

By the 1980s, the rising popularity of stand-up led to a boom in stand-up comedy venues for locally-based and touring comics, many of which were converted from disco clubs after the backlash in popularity. It seemed that every major and minor city in the United States had at least one "comedy club" that each week featured an MC, middle act, and a headliner. Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Sam Kinison, and Billy Crystal tested their comic skills with live stand-up comedy appearances.

By the 1990s, the glut of stand-up comedy clubs led to an inevitable decline, as the market became somewhat flooded with comedians of varying talent levels. Established stand-up comedians still commanded top ticket prices but less famous acts often struggled to find audiences. This was a difficult time for many comics in the US. The 1990s also saw the rise of alternative comedy in Los Angeles at venues including the Un-Cabaret and the Diamond Club featured performers like Beth Lapides, Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garofalo, Patton Oswald, David Cross and Paul F. Tompkins who 'de-constructed' formal comedy and embraced the personal rants and visceral storytelling tradition of Lenny Bruce. One of the most influential comic of this period was Bill Hicks, who earned most of his popularity posthumously, after interest in stand-up comedy rebounded. Dennis Miller was the first comic to utilize this technique to great success.

As the cable network Comedy Central grew tremendously in popularity into the mid-90s, stand-up comics once again had an opportunity to gain mainstream exposure. Shows like Premium Blend and The A-List focused on young, upcoming comics, while Lounge Lizards and later Comedy Central Presents offered original half-hour specials.

Many observers believe that Chris Rock's stand-up career and popular HBO special Bring the Pain,(1996) was instrumental to stand-up comedy's revival during the late 1990s.

By the 2000s, comedy had enjoyed a resurgence, not only because of Rock's popularity, but because of newer media outlets such as the internet, television channels like Comedy Central and various comedy schools, troupes, and improv groups nurturing new talent through workshops and classes. In the new century stand-up continues to flourish with new stars such as Dane Cook, Doug Stanhope, Artie Lange, Jim Norton, Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Jim Gaffigan and Mitch Hedberg.

Stand-up around the world

United States

New York City

In the United States, New York City is still widely considered to be the heart of the stand-up scene, with scores of young rising stars as well as established comics testing new material at the Comedy Cellar when not on the road. Caroline's on Broadway helped pioneer the "headliner club" and is still considered one of the top clubs in the country for headliners, with past performers such as Larry Tompkins, Bill Hicks, Colin Quinn, Gilbert Gottfried, Mitch Hedberg, Jerry Seinfeld and a host of others. Larger clubs have begun to proliferate in New York as evidenced by the appearance of Laugh Factory, a staple of the LA comedy scene, going up in Times Square as well as Comix in the meatpacking district; both of which are newer large capacity comedy clubs.

In New York City's Greenwich Village, comedy flourishes outside of the stand-up club circuit as well. Theaters that are more known for sketch comedy, such as the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCB), as well as cabarets that do not exclusively offer comedy, like Rififi, hold weekly comedy shows.

Some would say that these places are helping to breed a style closer to alternative comedy, perhaps characterized by more character-based, surreal, or absurd humor as opposed to observations of everyday life or more polemical themes. A growing number of comics (Demetri Martin, Will Franken) do not strictly tell jokes on stage, opting to play music or perform sketches, making their performances more vaudevillian than traditional stand-up.

Los Angeles

As the home to much of the American entertainment industry, Los Angeles is a major market for American stand-up comedy, and provides stand-up comics with more opportunity to branch out into television and film. The Los Angeles comedy scene consistently showcases world famous comics regularly playing at major comedy venues, such as The Laugh Factory, the Hollywood Improv, and the Comedy Store. Los Angeles' comedy scene is often criticized for having too many comics interested in transitioning into other media, with relatively few dedicated solely to the art of stand-up. Prominent figures in the L.A. comedy scene have included Kathy Griffin, Dante, Dom Irrera, Jim Carrey and Jay Leno, none of whom launched their careers in LA. There is a newly burgeoning comedy scene in Los Angeles' North Hollywood and Silverlake areas, which have experienced a large influx of artists over the past decade as the housing costs in West Los Angeles have risen. In the greater Los Angeles area of Pasadena, a prominent comedy night club known as The Ice House has also hosted many famous comedians.

Boston

Although not as big as New York or Los Angeles, Boston has long been considered an important comedy breeding ground in the United States. Boston comics often move to New York or Los Angeles in order to achieve mainstream success. The Boston area has arguably produced more native stand-up comics than New York (although it should be noted that many comics seen as natives actually relocated to Boston as college students from other parts of the country). The Comedy Connection was Boston's largest club and hosted many national headliners prior to closing its doors in July of 2008. Another club of note is The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square which is generally seen as Boston's premiere underground club. Notable comics with Boston roots include Denis Leary, Louis C.K., Lenny Clarke, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Mike Birbiglia, Eugene Mirman, Doug Stanhope, Paula Poundstone, Patrice Oneal, Bill Burr, Bob Marley, Nick DiPaolo, Bo Burnham and Gary Gulman. Many Boston comics have become writers for shows such as Dr. Katz, Home Movies, The Daily Show and The Simpsons. A number of other comedians born in New Jersey and New York got their start in the clubs of Boston, including Joe Rogan, Steven Wright and Bobcat Goldthwait. A documentary film was made in 2003, When Stand Up Stood Out which discusses Boston's role in the comedy boom of the mid to late 1980s.

Detroit

Detroit has been a formidable comedy proving ground for many years. Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, widely regarded as the heart of the city's comedy scene, pioneered the headliner/feature/emcee format which is now the general standard for comedy clubs, and helped launch the successful careers of Tim Allen and Dave Coulier. Notable Detroit comedians have made appearances on Last Comic Standing, namely J. Chris Newberg and Dave Landau. (Last Comic Standing's season 2 winner John Heffron and Rob Little are from the State of Michigan as well).

San Diego

San Diego is known in the comedy world for launching the careers of many stand-ups. Darren Carter, Charlie Ayers,Bobby Lee, Dat Phan and Jamie Foxx all began their careers in San Diego.

San Francisco

In the 1950s, Mort Sahl revolutionized stand-up comedy and launched his recording career after receiving acclaim for his satirical observational routines at the "hungry i". Stand-up comedy legend Lenny Bruce found a liberal fan base in the city, allowing him to take his act even further. During the 1980s, San Francisco had nine active comedy clubs, including the Holy City Zoo, The Other Café, Cobb's Comedy Club, and The Punchline. Many comedians spending time in San Francisco were influenced by the city's liberal intellectual atmosphere: Margaret Cho, Dana Carvey, Janeane Garofalo, Marc Maron, Jake Johansen, and more recently, Rob Cantrell (of Last Comic Standing), Arj Barker and Jim Short. San Francisco has hosted a separate circuit of gay comedy for many years at clubs like Josie's that produced Scott Capurro, Mark Davis, Margaret Cho, Marga Gomez, and politician Tom Ammiano. Recent years have seen a resurgence of San Francisco's place as a "comedy town" partly due to the city's "new wave", consisting of young and edgy alternative comics who have redefined San Francisco comedy.

Texas

Houston and Dallas have also produced many notable stand-ups, perhaps most famously Sam Kinison and the legendary Bill Hicks of Houston, and Steve Martin, a native of Waco. In 1959, George Carlin and Jack Burns began as a comedy team when both were working for radio station KXOL in Fort Worth. Austin has a thriving stand-up comedy scene with the comedy clubs Capital City Comedy and The Velveeta Room, as well as the vaudeville-style show Esther's Follies. Others would include Ron White and Bill Engvall.

Washington, DC

A number of comedians have started their stand-up careers in Washington, DC. Notable examples include as Dave Chappelle, Lewis Black, Martin Lawrence, Patton Oswalt, Wanda Sykes, Tommy Davidson and Henry Rollins.

Atlanta

In Atlanta, Georgia, some famous comedians include Jeff Foxworthy, Bruce Bruce, David Cross, Brett Butler, and Nipsey Russell.

St. Louis

In St.Louis Missouri, some famous comedians include Cedric the Entertainer, Phyllis Diller, Kathleen Madigan, Randy and Jason Sklar, and John Heffron

Canada

Canada has a rich comedy history and is well known for its talent, though most famous Canadian comics became noteworthy after moving to the United States (such as Jim Carrey, Russell Peters, Howie Mandel, Jeremy Hotz, Harland Williams) and more recently, after moving to the United Kingdom (such as Derek Edwards, Mike Wilmot). Some well known Canadian comics working in Canada include Brent Butt (of CTV's Corner Gas), Winston Spear, Gerry Dee and Nikki Payne. Canada is well known as a hotbed for improvisational comedy (Second City Toronto, Bad Dog Theatre, Loose Moose Theatre) and sketch comedy (Wayne and Shuster, Bizarre, SCTV, Kids in the Hall, Sketch Comedy Lounge, SNL producer Lorne Michaels).

Canadian comedy is largely influenced by American comedy trends. The success of many Canadian comics in the United States might be attributed to their "outsider's perspectives".

Toronto

Toronto, Ontario is Canada's largest comedy hub, with many stand-up clubs, including Absolute Comedy and Yuk-Yuks as well as alternative comedy rooms and open mics like The ALTdot COMedy Lounge, not to mention sketch and improv venues such as Second City and Sketch Comedy Lounge.

Montreal

Montreal, Quebec is another comedy hub. The city does not have many clubs (especially for English-only audiences) but is home to the world's largest comedy festival, Just for Laughs.

Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia is widely considered Canada's western comedy hub, and has been home to many well known Canadian comedians (including Brent Butt, Irwin Barker and Will Sasso). It is also home of the Vancouver Comedy Festival. The city is currently experiencing a renaissance in alternative comedy with such young comics as Graham Clark, Dave Shumka.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a long and rich heritage of standup comedians.

British stand-up comedy began in the music halls of the 18th and 19th centuries. Notable performers who rose through the music hall circuit were Morecambe and Wise, Arthur Askey and Max Miller, who was considered to be the quintessential music-hall comedian. The heavy censorship regime of the Lord Chamberlain's Office required all comedians to submit their acts for censorship. The act would be returned with unacceptable sections underlined in blue pencil (possibly giving rise to the term "blue" for a comedian whose act is considered bawdy or smutty). The comedian was then obliged not to deviate from the act in its edited form.

At the end of World War II, many members of the Armed Forces who had developed a taste for comedy (stand-up or otherwise) in wartime concert parties, and moved into professional entertainment. Eric Sykes, Peter Sellers and the other Goons, and Tommy Cooper all began their careers this way. The rise of the postwar comedians coincided with the rise of television and radio, and the traditional music hall circuit suffered greatly as a result. Whereas a music hall performer could work for years using just one act, television exposure created a constant demand for new material, although this may have also been responsible for the cessation of theatrical censorship in 1968.

By the 1970s, music hall entertainment was virtually dead. Alternative circuits had evolved, such as Working Mens' Clubs. Some of the more successful comedians on the Working Men's Club circuit - including Bernard Manning, Bobby Thompson, Frank Carson and Stan Boardman - eventually made their way to television via such shows as The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. The "alternative" comedy scene also began to evolve. Some of the earliest successes came from folk clubs, where performers such as Billy Connolly, Mike Harding and Jasper Carrott started as relatively straight musical acts whose between-song banter developed into complete comedy routines. The 1960s had also seen the satire boom, including the creation of The Establishment (club), which, amongst other things, gave British audiences their first taste of extreme American stand-up comedy from Lenny Bruce.

In 1979, the first American-style stand-up comedy club, the Comedy Store, London was opened in London by Peter Rosengard, where many alternative comedy stars of the 1980s, such as Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Alexei Sayle, Lee Evans, Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson began their careers. The stand-up comedy circuit rapidly expanded from London into the provinces. The present British stand-up comedy circuit arose from the 'alternative' comedy revolution of the 1980s, with political and observational humour being the prominent styles to flourish. In 1983 young drama teacher Maria Kempinska created Jongleurs Comedy Clubs, now the largest Stand Up Comedy chain in Europe.

The UK is often considered the stand-up centre of the world, due to the ease with which a comic can make a living. In America or Canada, cities are either situated too far apart, or comedy clubs too few in number for a comedian to make a proper living solely from stand-up. In the UK, however, a city typically has at least three or four venues where comedy is regularly performed, and travel between each city is not very arduous. The appeal of the UK as a base for international comics is evident by a huge increase in the number shows at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, which this year hosted over 700 comedy shows.

Australia

Australia has a thriving stand-up comedy scene, with comedy clubs in most major cities staging events featuring professional comedians, and nurturing and promoting new talent through open mic nights.

Some of Australia's most famous stand-up comedians in the past have included Steady Eddie, and 'blue' comedian Rodney Rude. More recently, comedians such as Dave Hughes,Tahir Bilgic, and Adam Hills have come to the fore. A more extensive listing of notable Australian comedians can be found in the article list of stand-up comedians.

Each year, the City of Melbourne, Victoria hosts the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, one of the largest of its kind in the world. According to its official website, the festival aims to showcase local talent, bring international comedians to Australian audiences and nurture and develop new performers. The festival holds events such as Raw Comedy, a prestigious open mic competition for amateur comedians, as well as MICF Class Clowns, an event for aspiring comedians who are between the ages of 14 and 17. A number of smaller festivals are also held around the country.

Several comedians who began their careers in stand-up went on to achieve fame in other media, such as film, radio and television. Notable successes include Rove McManus (television), Eric Bana (film), Jimeoin (film and television), Tahir Bilgic (television), Wil Anderson (radio & television) and Adam Hills (television).

Spain

An Irish festival called El Feile in Barcelona first introduced professional English language stand-up comedy to Spain in 2004 with the legendary ¨Best of Irish comedy Special¨, which in turn led to the formation of The Giggling Guiri in 2005. Now firmly established as the top club in the country, The Giggling Guiri presents headline shows at least once a month in Madrid and Barcelona. The club hosts some of the best in international acts regularly featuring the stronger 'Edinburgh Fringe' shows.

China

Stand-up comedy in China is an emerging art form. China has blocked access to Comedy Central's website, deeming the website unsuitable for China's citizens. Hong Kong is the only city in China to offer a fulltime comedy club.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, stand-up comedy is translated to Cantonese as Dung Duk Siu Dung Duk meaning "standing alone" and Siu meaning "laughter". The colloquial Cantonese translation was first introduced by Dayo Wong Tze Wah in 1990, when stand-up comedy was quite new to the Chinese community.

Michael Hui is said to be the first famous Hong Kong performer similar to a stand-up comedian. But it was actually Dayo Wong who started doing stand-up as a complete two hour show. The popularity of Hong Kong stand-up has been on the rise, thanks to more than a decade of effort by various performers. Stand-up acts can now be seen in Mainland China, especially by those who understand Cantonese.

Some people believe Dung Duk Siu is not a new performance art in China, but rather an alternate form of Xiangsheng. But Xiangsheng focuses on making people laugh without delivering an in-depth message behind the humour.

In February 2007, Jami Gong opened the first full-time comedy club in Asia, known as The TakeOut Comedy Club Hong Kong. The club features both English and Cantonese-speaking comics.

Each October, Hong Kong hosts an annual comedy festival, the HK International Comedy Festival.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, stand-up comedy (clearly influenced by British and American stand-up) is quite popular, and was first successfully introduced in Holland by Raoul Heertje, who, after performing very successfully in England and the United States, founded the Dutch comedy collective known as Comedytrain, as well as cabaret.

Cabaret, as it is known in Holland, is based on what is called a "conference", which is comparable to a stand-up routine except that it is generally one or two hours long and might contain songs, music and other diversions. (The star performer is commonly called a "cabaretier"). There is a decades-long tradition of New Year's Eve "conferences", a custom started by Wim Kan. Other famous former cabaretiers include Toon Hermans and Wim Sonneveld. The most famous cabaretier today is Freek de Jonge, who, in the tradition of Wim Kan, makes it a point to ridicule politicians. In 2006, he held a political conference the night before the national elections.

Stand-up comedy has brought forward a number of very famous younger "cabaretiers", such as Hans Teeuwen, Theo Maassen, Hans Sibbel and Najib Amhali, amongst many others. In 2007, a new comedy collective was founded by the Comedytrain, known as The Amsterdam Underground Comedy Collective, which was established to allow and train Dutch comedians to perform in English. The AUCC will have its first major gig during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the Tron.

Germany

Germany learned to appreciate American style stand-up comedy relatively late. To some extent, German comedy had been dominated by a form of political cabaret, where routines are carefully-rehearsed, politically-oriented and relatively highbrow (with a few exceptions being the comedians Heinz Erhardt, Otto Waalkes and Helge Schneider). The typical American stand-up style did not really take root in Germany until the 1990s, when German expatriate workers imported the comic style from the United States when they returned from overseas. The first notable stand-up comedy club in Germany was the Quatsch Comedy Club, founded in 1992 in Hamburg by Thomas Hermanns. The popularity of stand-up is still growing in Germany, as evidenced by the success of shows such as Nightwash (originally a standup show performed in a Cologne laundromat, and started by Klaus-Juergen "Knacki" Deuser), and the Quatsch Comedy Club, which were acquired by television, first by terrestrial broadcasters, then the satellite channels (including a German version of Comedy Central).

English-speaking stand-up

German humour has been influenced by the proliferation of English-language comedy shows in Germany, where English and American comedians perform in their native tongues. Shows such as Hollywood's Comedy Nights in Cologne and Bonn and the English Comedy Club in Munich originally started by catering to the large English-speaking expatriate population of the three cities, and have gained a further foothold due to the high percentage of native Germans who speak English as a second language.

Festivals

Germany features a number of comedy festivals, including the Cologne Comedy Festival, which is in part sponsored by RTL. Due to Cologne's status as a "Media Town", the festival attracts both national and international comedy acts. The festival has been held every October since 1991, and is considered one of the largest of its kind in Mainland Europe. The RTL German Comedy Prize is presented as part of the festival.

There are also a number of smaller, independent festivals and comedy prizes, notably "kleinkunst" (lit "little art") festivals, which feature prizes for performers. Winning these festival awards can boost a comedian's booking price considerably, the most notable of these being the "Prix Pantheon" award.

Comedy festivals

Stand-up comedy is the focus of four major international festivals: the Edinburgh Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland; Just for Laughs in Montreal, Canada; HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in Melbourne, Australia, and a number of other festivals, most prominently The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, the Vancouver Comedy Festival, the Boston Comedy and Film Festival, the New York Underground Film Festival and the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland. Radio hosts Opie and Anthony also produce a comedy tour called Opie and Anthony's Traveling Virus Comedy Tour, featuring their own co-host, Jim Norton as well as several other stand-up comedians regularly featured on their radio show. The festival format has proven quite successful at attracting attention to the art of stand-up, and is often used as a scouting and proving ground by industry professionals seeking new comedic talent.

Common subgenres of stand-up comedy

While anything that is funny is usually acceptable for stand-up (provided it does not break any laws), there are certain aspects that almost always can be made funny if presented properly.

-Relationship jokes usually revolve around the woman's dominance over the man (funny due to the fact that men have historically been the gender in charge) and/or the differences in behavior between the stereotypical man and stereotypical woman (such as a man's messiness juxtaposed to a woman's paranoia about cleanliness).
-News jokes relate to the newsworthy goings-on in the world. Jay Leno is famous for these jokes.
-Sex jokes usually relate to the awkwardness of sex in real life, as opposed to how it is portrayed in fiction. They can also talk about the taboo of discussing sex in person, or the awkwardness of reproductive organs.
-Impressions usually involve a person performing an vocal impressions of famous people and/or fictional characters. Sometimes, when doing impressions of fictional characters, the comedian may actually be the (voice) actor of the character, as is the case with Carlos Alazraqui and his impression of his past claim to fame, the Taco Bell chihuahua.

Other media

Many of the earliest vaudeville-era stand-ups gained their greater recognition on radio. They often opened their programs with topical monologues, characterized by ad-libs and discussions about anything from the latest films to a missed birthday. Each program tended to be divided into the opening monologue, musical number, followed by a skit or story routine. Their guests were varied and included other comedians, including Burns and Allen. A "feud" between Fred Allen and Jack Benny was used as comic material for nearly a decade.

HBO (which, for the first time, presented comedians uncensored), beginning with Robert Klein in 1975, was instrumental in reaching larger audiences.

Continuing that tradition, most modern stand-up comedians use television or motion pictures to reach a level of success and recognition unattainable in the comedy club circuit alone. Examples of such performers include Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Jon Stewart, Kathy Griffin, Ray Romano, Dave Chappelle, and Jeff Dunham.

Examples in the UK include Billy Connolly, Eddie Izzard, Lenny Henry, Peter Cook, Jack Dee, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Rowan Atkinson, Victoria Wood, Peter Kay, Vic and Bob, Ross Noble, Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey, Frankie Boyle, Mark Watson, Tommy Cooper, Marcus BrigstockeOmid Djalili and Russell Brand

With the rise of the web 2.0 online video sharing site Youtube, stand-up comedy has also developed into a dominant genre on the Internet. Many stand-up performances of famous comedians can be viewed through online video's. The genre attracts million of viewers online every day. Also unknown users have gained fame and recognition, through their online stand-up comedy performances on Youtube. The open mike and competitive nature of online video web 2.0 sites, make them a place where users can stand up and prove themselves as a comedy performer. Examples are internet celebrities and stand-up persona's Kevin Wu, better known as KevJumba and the ninja from the Ask a ninja series on Youtube.

See also

List of stand-up comedians
List of musical comedians
Comedy festivals
Improvisational theatre
Situation comedy
Rakugo – Japanese verbal entertainment
Manzai – style of stand-up comedy in Japan
Open mike – live show where audience members may perform at the microphone

How to become a stand up comic

If you were the class clown or people have been telling you all your life that you crack them up, then maybe a career in stand-up comedy is for you. A good way to start is to watch other comedians performing their routine, in person, if possible. If not, tapes are a good way to get the general idea of what’s expected of you. Not only do you have to be funny, but you have to have a specific routine down-pat. You don’t want to be remembered as the comic who couldn’t remember his own jokes. Watch the way the other comics carry themselves. Each one has a different routine and image, and you’ll want to develop an image that is uniquely yours, not copied from someone else. You can pick up a lot of pointers by watching their stance, the way they look at the audience, how they keep from laughing, and so on.

Write a routine that lasts up to 5 minutes. The jokes and other materials should all be original unless, of course, you’re doing imitations. Try your monologue on some family and friends, but remember, people who love you may not be as honest with you as you need them to be. Pick a few members of the family who don’t laugh easily and see if they think it’s funny. Don’t get your feelings hurt; if people don’t think the routine is funny, be willing to make changes to improve the act.

When you think you have your routine completely memorized and you’re comfortable in front of crowds, try to book yourself at a comedy club when they’re having amateur night. Many of these clubs feature amateurs regularly and this is a good way for others to discover your talents. Don’t expect everything to go off without a hitch. Some things former stand-up comedians admit to are stuttering or forgetting their opening, tripping while coming on stage, bumping the microphone, or laughing uncontrollably during the routine. A few have even gotten frustrated and walked off the stage. Don’t let any of this happen to you, and the best way to prevent it is to practice until you can do it in your sleep.

During the amateur show, listen to the audience. See what jokes seem to be appreciated and which ones just go over their heads. Your audience is the best way to tell if you’re funny. Later, drop routines that didn’t get big laughs and replace them with new jokes, or fine-tune until the routine is much funnier. Learn to adapt your routine to various audiences. A room full of seniors might not appreciate the same jokes as a room full of teens. Know who your audience will be beforehand and gear the jokes towards that particular crowd.

Learn to deal with hecklers. Not everyone will always think you’re hysterical, and occasionally there will be a loud mouth who’s had a little too much to drink and makes some nasty comments about your act. Let it roll off of you, ignore him or joke back at him, but don’t lose your temper, call him names or get physical. Your career will go nowhere if you get a reputation for beating up the audience!

Most comedy clubs serve alcohol and many a comedian has started out trying to break in to stand-up, but ended up only becoming a regular at the bar. Don’t let this happen to you. Try to avoid drinking during gigs or keep drinking to a minimum while working.

Even if you’re not discovered by an agent to be the next Chevy Chase, you can still have a career in stand-up. After performing a few times at amateur contests, try to book yourself at area lounges, clubs, festivals and other gigs. Many a huge star began as a stand-up comedian - the next one could be you.

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