Comic Comparison Exercise

 
Standup is a great medium for thinking about rhetoric. The jokes largely rely on how they are told, which encompasses everything from persona to body language to tone. Think about a comedian like Zach Galifianakis, whose persona is deeply ironic––there are meta jokes/jokes about jokes, absurd characters, etc.––and compare him with a comedian like George Carlin, whose persona employed ranting and frustration and usually turned critique outward, toward those outside of the performance/audience. The relationship between these comedians and their audiences are (were) vastly different––with Carlin the audience is “in” on the joke, but not so much with Galifianakis.
For this assignment, you will watch two comedy specials. There are many to choose from on Netflix, and these full-length specials tend to have a good sample size to work with. There are shorter sources, too, like The Standups on Netflix or some of the shorter Comedy Central specials. Please make sure you are using a whole set and not just clips, as you need to have a holistic understanding of the work. Clips are divorced of context and they are not usually helpful if you have not seen the whole special.
Requirements:

500-700 words, properly formatted (double space, 12pt font)
Compares two comedians using examples from two specific standup specials
Your writing should discuss things like persona, tone, language, relationship with audience, stage presence, body language, dress, etc. Subject matter is of course relevant––think Pryor’s work about race, Bamford’s work about mental illness and stigma––but don’t look exclusively at subject matter. It is more interesting and critical to look at how a comedian can take something unfunny like misfortune, tragedy, social issues, etc., and make us laugh.
Your writing should be comprised of your own ideas. Please do not use secondary sources for this assignment or you will lose points.
You need not have an intro/conclusion for this. While I expect your writing to progress logically and to be clearly organized, it is a more informal assignment than the ARP.

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