I don't get to go to comedy clubs. I live in a town that has one open occasionally and then close down after the majority of the acts that turn out are Open mic'ers. Nonetheless, I've seen many a comedian on telly and it seems to me that they should all come with disclaimers. There are plenty of comedians out there, but there are certain styles that we see over and over again. Determining how originally funny a comedian is, even for an audience that's cold and not entirely sober (two prime conditions for a fine comedy environment) in large part depends on how familiar you are with the style being employed. So, here are some disclaimers I recommend comedians use in advance of their acts, just to help out their audiences.*
Neurotic Comedian - "Hi. First of all, I'm not really very good at this. Talking in front of large groups of people makes me sweat profusely. I don't even actually have any jokes prepared. Instead, I'm just going to talk about my miserable love life and my relationship with my parents. Quite frankly, it's embarrassing as hell, but everyone seems to think that it's really funny and it keeps getting me bookings. In fact, if my current relationship works out badly enough, I may get on The Tonight Show."
Observational Comedian - "Did you ever notice that guys (or gals) like me spend most of our time talking about things you've seen at least a million times? I mean, you've seen them. They're familiar, commonplace, and yet, I'm about to describe them to you in ways that you scarely could have imagined. This is mostly because you're far more well-adjusted than me, but it's also because I have much more time on my hands to recognise things such as that blue water in toliets is really quite peculiar and that cereal packaging is far more difficult to open than you'd think."
Improvisational Comedian - "I come to you with nothing. This is my plan. I'm going to make it up as I go along. Not only that, but I'm going to ask you to help me out by picking some of the topics I'll be discussing. Is this because I think that you have a really great sense of what's funny? Of course not, I simply know that if you pick the topic out you'll be that much more likely to laugh if I make a double-entendre out of it."
Angry Comedian - "I hate you all. I hate everything. The screaming and cursing you are about to experience would make you cry if I did it to you in a shopping mall or at the post office. However, the fact that I'm doing it up here registers as humour in your brain. This is beneficial to both of us. I get paid to rant at you for every little thing in my life that is out of control, including your presence in it. You get some amusement out of the whole thing, as well as comforting yourself with the lie that I don't really mean it."
Props Comedian - "I have no jokes to speak of. I merely rely upon your certainty that oversized hats, rubber chickens, and crazy wigs are hiliarious. The moment you suddenly feel in the mood for a verbal comedian is the moment I go to my exploding watermelon routine. (Pulls out sledgehammer) Enjoy!"
Zany Comedian - "I drank forty-seven cups of expresso before I got here this evening (does brief Brando/Godfather impersonation). Not only will this quell my nervousness at performing in front of a large druken hostile crowd such as yourselves (Mugs and makes a drunken gesture with fist), but it will also help me to say pretty much anything that comes to mind, no matter how controversial or silly, and let's face it, you people eat that crap up like McDonald's french fries. (Says something rapidly in French, punctuated by the word "Big Mac" which is delivered with a thrusting motion.)
References Comedian - "I'm just going to tell you now that some of you people, like Nebuchadnezzar and the writing on the wall, aren't going to get many of my jokes. You people will be left stone-faced and drooling, like Schrödinger's cat or Socrates after the hemlock. Unless you're willing to browse the Encyclopedia Britannica during the performance, much in the way Rimsky-Korsakoff read counterpoint and harmony a day ahead of his Conservatoire du St. Petersburg classes, you people will be more lost than Prospero and Ariel on a starless night in Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki."
Impressionist Comedian - "I will now proceed to sound like every celebrity you have ever heard. I hope that this amuses you because I'm woefully short on punchlines and raconteuring. I can however repeat David Niven's Oscar line about shortcomings with all the fidelity of Memorex."
Feminist Comedian - "Those of you in the audience who are men or subservient, easily-cowed women might as well leave now, because I'll just piss you off with my confidence and deep-seated frustration that most of the people in this business aren't women."
Sexist Comedian - "Those of you who are women, men with good taste, or pretty much anyone who doesn't find jokes about boobs, phalluses or sex in public places with ugly strangers funny might as well leave, cause that's all I got baby."
Avant-Garde Comedian - "I'm not here to be funny you simpletons. I'm here to challenge you intellectually by assualting your sensibilities. You will not enjoy this, but years from now, when asked about this famous performance, you will claim to have laughed all night and understood every nuance of my intent, you lying bastards."
*Of course comedy is an immensely difficult and challengeing occupation. I want to make it clear that I understand that, in case I run into any comedians who on the off-chance have read this article and are heavily armed.