With growing presence in media, stand-up comedy becomes more mainstream


Veronica Teeter

ON THE FLOOR: Junior Austin Audia performs during a ComedySportz match after school. Members often incorporate unique styles of humor to win ComedySportz matches.

Emily Carlisle

Although the date is undecided, theatre students will soon host a Stand-Up Comedy Night. The lineup is not set for the show yet; however, it will feature a few different students.

Sarah Warf, ComedySportz member and sophomore, plans to participate in the Stand-Up Comedy Night. Warf said teenagers tend to resort to a certain genre of humor while performing comedy often tests different waters.

“Usually, high schoolers use ‘potty humor’ and dirty jokes when messing around with friends. But in ComedySportz, the focus is more on situational humor. We are put into a scene, like a silly vacation, and we have to be the ones to find the humor,” Warf said.

Jim Peterson, theater and film teacher as well as producer of the Stand-Up Comedy night, said his students are what originally inspired the event.

Peterson said via email, “The idea of stand up comedy came from the students. Last year I had a student who was interested in learning how to do it and convinced me and the rest of the class to try it. I have never done it, so I did a lot of research and called in some guest speakers to help us figure out how. It turned out great, so now this year’s students are also interested.”

Peterson also mentioned his specific role in the stand-up process.

He said, “For the Stand-up Comedy Night, I walk the students through the joke writing process. We discuss what’s funny and what’s appropriate for our audience. We work on crafting the setup and the punchline in order to create a well-written routine.”

Austin Audia, ComedySportz member and junior, said although comedy is readily available online, it makes more of an impact in person.

“Comedy has been around for a pretty long time but since it is so easy to access now, people don’t often get to experience it first hand,” Audia said. “Comedy is something that everyone should experience live and not through a screen.”

Peterson agreed with Audia but credited the rise in mainstream comedy and availability to teens’ piqued interest.

“There is such a prevalence of comedy in media right now. Comedy Central started the stand-up comedy mainstream access and now Netflix has a ton of stand-up specials on its service. It is really amazing,” Peterson said.

Clare Dierckman
Sarah Warf, ComedySportz member and sophomore, practices during a ComedySportz practice after school. Warf said she plans on participating in Stand-Up Comedy Night and said her experiences in ComedySportz and examples of mainstream media humor will help her prepare for the event.

Aidan Myers, a junior who performed stand-up while in 8th grade, said easy access to comedy can greatly influence its viewers, especially younger ones.

“I think that because more comedy specials are easily accessible, students use it almost as a mold for what they think is funny. I also think that depending on who they watch first can hurt the reputation of stand-up comedy in their eyes,” Myers said.

Since Bo Burnham was the first stand up I watched, I have an over-the-top sense of what stand-up comedy should be. In other words, I expect a great performance that also makes me want to think and re-listen to it over and over again. Whereas if I watched Sam Kinison first, I would think all stand up is a raunchy man screaming every other sentence.”

Peterson said the rise of mainstream comedy can influence students and their sense of humor.

He said, “When I was a teenager, the only way to catch a stand-up comedy special was on HBO which was uncensored, or a rare studio broadcast on one of the major networks. A&E also had an ‘Evening at the Improv’ where you could catch some stand up. Now, access to stand-up comedy is easy to find. Plus all the short-form comedy that is happening in commercials, promotions, etc. Then there’s the compilation videos of real-life accidents or funny moments. Those will all influence and shape what we find funny.”

Warf had a different explanation for comedy becoming more mainstream.

“We’re all just a little bit depressed and we need comedy to make our lives better. You know what I mean? We make jokes out of life so that it’s not as sad,” Warf said.

Myers agreed with Warf’s perspective commenting on how comedy is used as an escape.

“Comedy is diverse as people can find humor in anything. However, I think that comedy and, more specifically, stand-up comedy is a good way to express how you really feel,” Myers said. “Furthermore, comedy will always be used as a way to escape reality when the reality we live in becomes too unbearable.”

Chloe Sun