Friday, February 03, 2023 | Rajab 11, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Simply put, comedians are the new intellectuals

One of the biggest challenges for a comedian is when the audience is not in on the joke

Is the tragic death of a tourist by a shark in Egypt a suitable topic for a comedy? Perhaps. Making jokes about people’s misfortune and family grieving is dreadful – I think. But there are those who are willing to charge, and those ready to pay for such performances.


Did you know that comedy is one of the top ten hobbies to make money? Laughter and amusement are the central purposes of a comedy. Hiring comedians for corporate events, shows, birthday parties, or weddings has become easy. There are many of them: good and bad ones. It is a freelance industry that has been growing in Oman.


It is tough to make people laugh. It has always been a difficult job and the audience plays a big role with immediate reaction. With the commercialisation of comedy performances, the script, the style, and the crispiness fit the low genre with vulgar language, sexist jokes and gags that will make you want to cover your eyes.


Generally, the comedian is an educated person, and so is the audience, with a few exceptions, and that is when in stand-up performances the comedian becomes encouraged to lower the level to stir laughs. Occasionally, when people in the audience felt offended, they become the target of the entertainer. Why are you so serious?


One of the biggest challenges for a comedian is when the audience is not in on the joke. In ‘joking in the face of tragedy’, the author says that the price of laughter is the measure of success of a comedian. His allure and fees depend on making people laugh.


Life is not a bed of roses. We all need some laugh, and enjoyment to face the hardship of rising living costs, violence, and natural disasters, but are comedies on recent tragic incidents the way to go? It has been less than a month since two tourists were killed by a shark in Egypt. Constructing jokes while the deaths are still fresh in the media is dishonouring the victims and their families. A comedy is a light-hearted story with a happy ending, whereas a tragedy is a serious story with a sad ending.


The origin of comedy started with Aristotle in ancient Greece with political satire. It is a dramatic performance pitting groups, ages, genders, or societies against each other in an amusing contest. It would make fun of people or societal institutions as ridiculous or corrupt.


In stand-up comedy, popularised by the Internet, the performer is bold and has impressive soft skills such as a creative mind to turn facts into jokes, a good sense of humour, and the ability to deliver while keeping a watch on the mood of the audience. Approaches are changing.


There are comedy festivals, podcasts, books, radio programmes, and comedy movies. It is defined as a type of art. The problem rests in the difference between high and low comedy. The high comedy evokes intelligence and thinking skills. For example, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – witty and entertaining from the aristocratic point of view; the low comedy is mostly based on ‘belly laugh’ gags and slapstick humour. Charlie Chaplin is the essence of slapstick humour.


The Internet has become a source of inspiration and also a path to stardom. Accounts on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter have amassed large audiences by curating memes and viral videos or tapping into a niche of humour that no one else is serving.


The funny part is that comedians have been taking the role of intellectuals by exploring, discussing, and presenting their conclusions on important topics. Audiences learn ‘facts’ and take comedians as credible sources! Forget about academics or journalists. Comedic framing is more personal, dramatic and emotional, therefore, engaging.


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