Laurel & Hardy reading The New Movie.jpg
Laurel and Hardy, one of the most famous comedy duos during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema
MediumTheatre, stand-up, comedy club, television, film
Ancestor artsJester, harlequinade, clown
Originating cultureHumour

A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience by making them laugh. This might take many forms including jokes, satirical observations, amusing situations, acting foolish (as in slapstick) or employing prop comedy. A comedian who addresses an audience directly is called a stand-up comedian. Other practises include the sitcom, sketch comedy and improv genres.

A popular saying, variously quoted but generally attributed to Ed Wynn,[1] is, "A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny", which draws a distinction between how much of the comedy can be attributed to verbal content and how much to acting and persona.

A lot of creative and original comedy is based on surrealism and absurdity. Early pioneers in these comedic forms include Spike Milligan and Monty Python. Current examples include Vic and Bob, Noel Fielding and Sam Simmons. Elements of surreal and absurd comedy include the non-sequitur (where language or events do not follow a logical process/sequence), irony (where a message is conveyed in a way contrary to its content) and deadpan performance (in the face of surreal and absurd situations, furthering the absurdity).

Since the 1980s, a new wave of comedy, called alternative comedy, has grown in popularity with more offbeat and experimental style. Alternative comedy was initially inspired by punk culture and rejected old comedy forms, the establishment and bigoted humour. Ben Elton, Rik Mayall, Malcolm Hardee and Alexi Sayle were among the most well-known 1980's alternative comedians. Alternative comedy experienced a revival around 2010, with Stewart Lee promoting the liberal, progressive values of the movement and many younger comedians in the UK banding together in groups dedicated to alternative comedy including The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society and the Weirdos Collective.

Many comics achieve a cult following while touring famous comedy hubs such as the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, the Edinburgh Fringe, and Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia. Often a comic's career advances significantly when they win a notable comedy award, such as the Edinburgh Comedy Award (formerly the Perrier comedy award). Comics sometimes foray into other areas of entertainment, such as film and television, where they become more widely known; e.g., Eddie Izzard or Russell Brand. However, a comic's stand-up success does not guarantee a film's critical or box office success.


Ancient Greeks

Comedians can be dated back to 425 BC, when Aristophanes, a comic author and playwright, wrote ancient comedic plays. He wrote 40 comedies, 11 of which survive and are still being performed. Aristophanes' comedy style took the form of satyr plays.[2]

Shakespearean comedy

The English poet and playwright William Shakespeare wrote many comedies. A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a happy ending, usually involving marriages between the unmarried characters, and a tone and style that is more light-hearted than Shakespeare's other plays.

Modern era

Charlie Chaplin in the film The Champion, 1915

Charlie Chaplin was the most popular screen comedian of the first half of the 20th century. Chaplin and Stan Laurel were protégés of Fred Karno, the English theatre impresario of British music hall, and in his biography Laurel stated, "Fred Karno didn't teach Charlie [Chaplin] and me all we know about comedy. He just taught us most of it".[3] Chaplin wrote comedic silent films such as Modern Times and The Kid. His films still have a major impact on comedy in films today.[4]

One of the most popular forms of modern-day comedy is stand-up comedy. Stand-up comedy is a comic monologue performed by one or more people standing on a stage.[5] Bob Hope was the most popular stand-up comedian of the 20th century, and also starred in numerous comedy films over a five-decade span. Other noted stand-up comedians include Billy Connolly, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld, Dylan Moran, Lee Evans, Patton Oswalt and Jo Brand.

Radio has been a proving-ground for many comedians. Ricky Gervais began his career at a London radio station called XFM and Chris Morris began his career at Radio Cambridgeshire. The League of Gentlemen, Mitchell and Webb and The Mighty Boosh all transferred to television after broadcasting on BBC Radio 4. Between 2002 and 2011 BBC Radio 6 Music used to feature regular shows presented by comedians including Phil Jupitus, Stephen Merchant and Adam & Joe. Now BBC radio comedy is mainly available on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra. Before television, radio was one of the main ways to enjoy comedy, The Goon Show and Hancock's Half Hour being among the most popular early shows.

On television there are comedy talk shows where comedians make fun of current news or popular topics. Such comedians include Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Graham Norton, Jim Jefferies, James Corden, Jonathan Ross, David Letterman, and Chelsea Handler. There are sketch comedies, such as Mr. Show with Bob and David and Monty Python who created their sketch comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus (a BBC show that influenced Saturday Night Live), then there are sitcoms, for example Roseanne, Only Fools and Horses and Not Going Out, as well as popular panel shows like The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, Have I Got News for You and Celebrity Juice.

Comedy is increasingly enjoyed online. Comedians with popular long-running podcasts series include Kevin Smith, Richard Herring and PewDiePie. Comedians streaming videos of their stand-up include Bridget Christie, Louis C.K. and Daniel Kitson. Many comedians publicise their work and build an audience through social media, especially Twitter.

Other Languages
العربية: ممثل هزلي
asturianu: Comediante
azərbaycanca: Komediyaçı
تۆرکجه: کومدین
Bân-lâm-gú: Chhiò-khoe gē-jîn
Cymraeg: Digrifwr
dansk: Komiker
Deutsch: Komiker
español: Comediante
Esperanto: Komikisto
euskara: Komediante
فارسی: کمدین
français: Humoriste
Frysk: Komyk
Gaeilge: Fuirseoir
한국어: 희극 배우
hrvatski: Komičar
Bahasa Indonesia: Pelawak
עברית: קומיקאי
Kiswahili: Mchekeshaji
Kreyòl ayisyen: Komedyen
latviešu: Komiķis
Lëtzebuergesch: Komiker
magyar: Humorista
македонски: Комичар
Bahasa Melayu: Pelawak
Nederlands: Komiek
norsk: Komiker
occitan: Comic
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕਮੇਡੀਅਨ
polski: Komik
русский: Комик
sardu: Còmicu
shqip: Komediani
Simple English: Comedian
سنڌي: مسخرو
slovenčina: Komik
српски / srpski: Комичар
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Komičar
suomi: Koomikko
svenska: Komiker
Türkçe: Komedyen
українська: Комік
West-Vlams: Kluchtigoard
ייִדיש: קאמיקער
中文: 喜劇演員