What is Bill Burr's comedy style

American humor - American humor

American humor collectively refers to the conventions and common threads that bind humor in the United States. It is often defined in terms of another country's humor - for example, how it differs from British and Canadian humor. However, it is difficult to say what makes a particular type or topic of humor all the more American. Humor usually affects aspects of American culture and depends on the historical and current evolution of the country's culture. Obviously, how humorous an individual is personally depends on a variety of absolute and relative variables, including but not limited to geographic location, culture, maturity, level of education, and context. People from different countries will therefore find different situations funny. Just as American culture has many aspects that are different from other nations, these cultural differences can be an obstacle to the way humor is translated into other countries.

general characteristics


A Leading Analysis of American Humor, the 1931 book American Humor: A Study of National Character by Constance Rourke, identified the character of the "Yankee" as that first American comic book character, the first widely accepted American character the nation could find poke fun at. Make fun of the world and even export it for the world's pleasure - a lanky traveler who told stories, played elaborate practical jokes, was resourceful, cunning, perhaps uneducated. She reports that American comedy originated after the American Revolution, when the country was "liberated from concern for self-preservation" and its citizens began to view themselves as "works of art".

Types of humor

American humor might also be characterized by its most common type of humor, such as more slapstick and physical comedy. There is less emphasis on understatement, and therefore the humor is more open than mocking the social system through exaggeration.

American humor favors more observation techniques. However, the style of observational humor (although not exclusively American) is an integral part of the American style of humor, as it is intended to point out those aspects of American culture and social discourse that are obvious while highlighting their ridiculousness.


There are many different groups in the United States to draw upon for humorous material. The strongest of these influences, at least in the 20th century, was the influx of Jewish comedians and their corresponding Jewish humor, including some of the most influential: The Three Henchmen, The Marx Brothers, Lenny Bruce, Rodney Dangerfield, Jackie Mason, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks , Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, and Lewis Black are some examples. In the second half of the 20th century, African American comedians came to the fore in comedy from the United States. With the exposure of TV shows like The Jeffersons , Saturday Night Live and The Cosby Show black comedians became household names. In the 1980s and 1990s, Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby were two of the most popular American comedians exported around the globe.


The earliest example of deliberate, skillful, and persistent comedy and satire in American literature is 1637's New English Canaan by Thomas Morton of Merrymount, who devoted chapters and poems to his ironic observations of Native American and English Puritan colonists, including a witty comparison of their cultures Values ​​that produced surprising and disturbing answers. A second example is Benjamin Church's "Entertaining Passages from King Philip's War" (1680 edition, Richard Slotkin, ed.), In which a seasoned frontier worker and friend of the New Englanders observes the stupid tactics and unnecessary tragedies of the conflict.

By the 1830s, regional humor became popular in the United States, with examples such as Augustus Baldwin Longstreet's Georgia Scenes (1835) from the south and Seba Smith's Major Jack Downing Series (1830-1850s) from New England. Smith was influenced by earlier work by John Neal, which featured accents and cultural references from Maine and New England.

Later in the nineteenth century, Ernest Hemingway credited Mark Twain as the 'great father' of American humor. Twain was still aware of the relationship between his humor and European colleagues and commented in 1897: "The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the funny story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect on the type of narrative comic -Story and the funny story on that matter. "

This early definition emphasizes the performance orientation of American humor and thus necessarily the performer himself. During his time in the lecture series, Twain essentially "played" many of his works, in particular the lecture he gave on the Lyceum movement, "The American Vandal Abroad." before he got his breakthrough The Innocents Abroad published . So the root of American humor is the concept of stand-up comedy itself and the shift from textual means of conveying humor to that of performance and performer.

Regardless of its worth, Twain represents only one type of humor in the United States. Another famous 19th century American humorist was Ambrose Bierce, whose most famous work the Cynical Devil's Dictionary is . Popular humorists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries included Samuel Minturn Peck (1854–1938), the My sweetheart wrote, and Hayden Carruth (1862–1932), the Uncle Bentley and the Roosters wrote . American humorists of the early 20th century included members of the Algonquin Round Table (named after the Algonquin Hotel) such as Dorothy Parker, SJ Perelman, and Robert Benchley. More recently, PJ O'Rourke, Louis (L) Harding, Erma Bombeck, and Dave Barry are popular authors of American humor.

There is also a history of the use of humor in children's books, sometimes using rhyming text. Popular options are Dr. Seuss and Ogden Nash.

Cartoons, magazines and animation

American cartoons and comics have made humorous or devastating comments on American life since Thomas Nast or earlier. Notable humorous print cartoonists include Charles Schulz, Scott Adams, Gary Larson, Walt Kelly, Johnny Hart, Bill Watterson, and others.

Notable US humor magazines include Mad , humbug , Trump and Help! as well as that National Lampoon and the Spy Magazines.

National Lampoon started in 1970 as an offshoot of the Harvard Lampoon . The magazine regularly impaled popular culture, counterculture, and politics. The magazine was at its peak in the 1970s and its influence spread to films and comedy programs. In the mid-1970s, some of the magazine's cast left the NBC comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). The magazine ceased publication in 1998, but films and other programs attributed to National Lampoon will continue.

In the 20th century, the film allowed cartoons of a humorous nature. Perhaps the most notable of these are Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry . Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, and Mel Blanc (voices for many popular characters) were instrumental in this and many other animated shorts that continued to be popular. What's Opera, Doc? , Duck Amuck and One Froggy Evening found sufficient critical appeal to be included in the national film register. Warner Brothers cartoons often dealt with topics beyond US culture or society, but included numerous commentaries on American life. While many of the American Animated Short Film Oscar winners are not examples of American humor, a significant percentage would qualify as such. Some of the notable American cartoons and animations on television are The Flintstones , The Simpsons , Family guy , Futurama , Beavis and Butt-Head , King of the hill , Robot Chicken , Ren and Stimpy , SpongeBob SquarePants , South Park and American Dad! .

Theater and variety

A popular form of theater in the 19th century was the minstrel show. These shows featured white actors dressed in black playing racist stereotypes.

Burlesque became a popular form of entertainment in the mid-19th century. Originally a form of farce in which women in male roles mocked the politics and culture of the day, burlesque was condemned by opinion makers for its sexuality and openness. The form was haunted by the "legitimate stage" and found in salons and bar rooms, and its content consisted mostly of slippery jokes.

Vaudeville is a type of entertainment that prevailed in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Vaudeville grew from many sources, including saloon shows, minstrels, British pantomimes, and other popular entertainment events, and became one of the most popular types of entertainment in America. Part of that conversation was usually one or more comedians. Vaudeville provided generations of American entertainers, including George M.Cohan, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Mae West, Fanny Brice and WC Fields. Vaudeville became less popular as films replaced live entertainment, but vaudeville performers were able to penetrate these other realms. Former variety artists who have enjoyed success in film, radio, and television include: Buster Keaton, Marx Brothers, Edgar Bergen, Three Stooges, and Abbott & Costello.

Radio and recorded

Early radio broadcasts include Sam and Henry which has been dubbed the first sitcom and Debuted on WGN radio in 1926. It was made in part from Sidney Smith's popular comic strip The gumps inspired. Amos & Andy began as one of the first radio comedy series to debut on CBS in 1928. This was a show written and performed by white actors about black farm workers moving to the big city. The show was successful enough that a movie was made with the characters in 1930 and became a television sitcom in 1951. The film showed the white actors in black letters. The television show featured African American actors.

In its early years, radio was a showcase for comedy stars from the vaudeville circuit. Jack Benny is one of the early comedy stars in this medium. When Jack switched to television in the 1950s, his time slot was occupied by Stan Freberg, a voice actor and comedian. Stan began producing records of his comedy routines in 1950, which included parodies of popular tunes and parodies of modern entertainment personalities and political subjects. He was also on the radio from 1954 to 1957.

Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding were an American comedy team that was titled on the radio in 1946 with a daily 15-minute show Matinee With Bob and Ray began . Their format has usually been to satirize the medium they performed in, such as conducting interviews, with off-the-wall dialogue presented in a generally dead style, as if it were a serious interview. They were broadcast on radio and television for over four decades, ending in 1987.

More recently, the medium has fallen out of favor as a source of humor, with Garrison Keillor perhaps being a rare modern example.

As podcasts grew in popularity in the early 21st century, a partly comedic, partly denominational program was very successful. The stand-up comedian Marc Maron achieved 2009/10 with his free WTF with Marc Maron- Podcast in which he conducts humorous interviews with a number of major and minor characters in the world of comedy from lesser lights like Now, a sizable following - Patrice O'Neal died in front of a better-known crowd including Robin Williams, Ben Stiller, Amy Poehler and Judd Apatow. Marron himself precedes each episode with a brief recap of his own life and attempts to overcome his neuroses, and despite the potential for seriousness, these challenges are generally portrayed in a comedic, if not angry, light.


The first film to be produced was Thomas Edison's kinetoscope by his assistant Fred Ott in Record of a Sneeze. This could also be seen as the first to show a comedic element.

In the era of silent films in the 1920s, comedy films appeared in significant numbers. These mainly focused on visual humor, including slapstick and burlesque. In America, Charlie Chaplin (although he was born in England), Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd are among the prominent clown actors of the silence. Oliver Hardy (from Laurel and Hardy) (Stan Laurel is British), Fatty Arbuckle, the Marx Brothers, and other names were prominent in the early decades of American cinema humor.

Many early film directors in the United States were born elsewhere. This is true of one of the most famous early comedy directors in Hollywood, Billy Wilder. However, in the 1940s, American-born directors such as Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges, and George Cukor were also major movie comedies. In the 1960s through 1970s, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks became two of America's most popular comedy directors. In the 1980s, Christopher Guest, Carl Reiner and the Coen brothers appeared as important directors or authors of American comedy films. In addition, several "brother duos" were important in American films, such as the Zucker brothers, the Coen brothers and the Farrelly brothers. Over the past decade, Kevin Smith, Jay Roach, Tom Shadyac, and Alexander Payne have gained recognition as film directors whose work is often humorous, if sometimes obscure, in Payne's case. Some of the directors mentioned above, Woody Allen and the Coen brothers in particular, make other genres of film in addition to comedy. In modern times, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, and Will Ferrell have been popular proponents of American comedy film.

watch TV


Situation comedy (sitcom) is a format that first developed on radio and later became the main form of comedy on television. The first sitcom to rank number one in US ratings overall was I love Lucy . A typical one I Love Lucy- Episode involved one of Lucy's ambitious but mind-boggling plans, whether it be to sneak into Ricky's nightclub act, find a way to hop around with celebrities, show off their clubmates, or just try to improve the quality of their lives. Usually it ends in comedic mess, a form of slapstick comedy. The I love Lucy Show grew out of a radio program that featured Lucille Ball. Another popular 1950s sitcom that was adopted by radio was Amos & Andy .

In the decades since then, several sitcoms have topped the ratings. Had in the 1960s the Beverly Hillbillies and the Andy Griffith Show this award. Both programs were based on the country fool - the clampetts who bring their hillbilly to Beverly Hills and the slow-speaking sheriff in the small rural town. In the 1970s it was All in the family the top rated show while dealing with serious problems. It was based on the fact that the loudmouth bigot usually got its appearance.

The most successful sitcoms of the 1980s were Roseanne and Cheers . Roseanne was a family sitcom, related to loud and tall blue-collar parents. Cheers however, it was about a neighborhood bar frequented by a mix of workers and professional drinkers.

In the 1990s, the rise in popularity of cable changed audiences' tastes in the sitcom. Cable offered more viewing options and made it harder for each show to dominate as The Cosby Show or Cheers did in their epochs. Indeed His field and Friends manage to be among the most watched programs of the decade. In the 2000s there was another erosion in the sitcom, being Friends was the only one that was the most watched show in a year of this decade, and the Emmy winner's cancellation Arrested Development . Arrested Development was one of the few critically successful comedies that started in the 2000s but the most recent comedies like The Office , 30 skirt and My name is Earl were praised.

While many sitcoms were based on families or family situations, another common thread in sitcoms is "comedies in the workplace". The Andy Griffith Show and Arrested Development contained elements of both workplace and family comedy. For more information, see the US sitcom.

Although the sitcom is often ridiculed by critics, some sitcoms have managed to hit both critics and audiences alike. Among these are Frasier , His field , All in the family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show .

The television sitcom is an opportunity to compare British and American humor. Many British sitcoms have been recreated for the American audience. For example Till Death Us Do Part were in the family all ; Man About the House became to Three's Company ; and the immensely popular one Steptoe and Son became to Sanford and Son . The office was originally a British sitcom that was successfully recreated for an American audience with the same title (and, in the case of the pilot, the same script). Most UK sitcoms, however, usually do better in their original form. Re-brands of other British comedies have failed.

Sketch comedy and variety shows

A variety show is a show with a variety of acts, often including musical and comedy skits, particularly on television. The first successful comedy variety show could be that of Milton Berle, followed by Ernie Kovacs and Sid Caesar. Jack Benny switched to television in the mid-1950s. In the variety shows, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope and Dean Martin mixed stand-up comedy, sketches and musical numbers for real variety. Later hits include The Carol Burnett Show and Rowan & Martins Laugh-In.

Saturday Night Live (SNL) first aired on October 11, 1975, with George Carlin as the host. It was created by the Canadian Lorne Michaels. The original concept was a comedy variety show with young comedians, live music performances and short films. Instead of having a permanent host, there was a different innkeeper every week. The first performers were the alumni of The Second City, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Gilda Radner, as well as the alumni of National Lampoon Lemmings, Chevy Chase (whose trademark became his usual falls and opening games that kicked off the opening of the show), Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, and Garrett Morris. The original lead author was Michael O'Donoghue, an author at National Lampoon, the one directing The National Lampoon Radio Hour had worked with several actors. The cast has changed regularly over the years and serves many of its cast members as a stepping stone to success in other television programs or films. SNL will continue to be broadcast weekly.

In the early 1990s, there were more sketch comedy shows that were racist or intentionally diverse. An early example of this is In living color which was originally produced by Keenen Ivory Wayans. Although the original cast is mostly African American, the show is most memorable for introducing Caucasian Jim Carrey and Puerto Rican Jennifer Lopez to a wider audience. Began in the 2000s Chappelle's show and became a popular, albeit controversial, variety show. It became known for treating issues such as racism, sexual perversity, and drug use.

Currently are The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live leading comedy variety shows.

Stand up

American stand-up comedians deal with a variety of shapes and subjects. Forms popular or popular in the United States include everyday life observation comedies and improvisational comedies. Modern improvisational comedy in general is largely associated with Chicago and the Second City troupe in particular. In the 1950s, the role of this troupe in modern improvisational comedy increased.

During that decade, stand-up comedy, dealing with more provocative or politically charged subjects, also increased. Some of the most famous comedians of the 1950s through 1980s who worked this way include Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and Sam Kinison. They dealt with issues such as race, religion, and sex in ways that were not generally allowed on television or film. As a result, the Richard Pryor Show ended after four episodes, partly due to controversy, although poor reviews were a strong factor. In other cases, the reactions were more severe, as both Lenny Bruce and George Carlin were arrested for profanity.

However, other stand-ups in the US take an opposite approach, which is about avoiding angry or offensive elements from the audience. They can also try to work "neatly" either because they prefer to or because they want to reach an audience that despises slippery material. Those who prefer this include Brian Regan, Bob Newhart, and Bill Cosby. Ray Romano is able, or even willing, to work on "blue" as on Dr. Cat, DVD commentary tracks from Professional therapist , has, however, avoided this out of consideration for its current audience.

Notable names

Note: Attempts have been made to avoid repeating names that have already been mentioned. However, there may still be some repetitions left. This list is partial and mainly deals with American comedians or humorists who have won Lifetime Achievement Awards in their field or have been included on lists of the great comedians in history.

See also


External links

  • [22] See Thomas Morton of Merrymount and his 1637 'New English Canaan' for the earliest American social satires, observed witty sketches by actual Native Americans and English people, and pilgrimage poems about the "Elephants of Wit" who believed God had sent them around Rule America for yourself.
  • American Humor.org The home page of the American Humor Studies Association
  • [23] Humor in America - online publication for academic research into American humor.