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Comics' Corner – November

Comedy comes in a myriad of different colours and fabrics, but amongst the great haberdashery of comic styles, there is a science that underpins the techniques a comedian uses to tickle your funny bones – the mechanics of comedy. This is the first in a series of pieces exploring my favourite comedians and the techniques they employ to make you laugh.

By Will Crawford. 

The Character Assassin

These comedians cheekily employ caustic humour at the expense of their friends and others. Experts in this style of comedy are generally some of the most talented wordsmiths. The English practitioners of this dark art include Jimmy Carr (8 Out of 10 Cats and The Big Fat Quiz), Joan Rivers, Jack Dee, Simon Amstell (Never Mind the Buzzcocks) and Glaswegian Frankie Boyle (Mock the Week and various comedy specials). Australian comic Will Anderson is perhaps our best proponent of this form. 

The Character Assassins are often masters at the classic technique of expectation inversion, which involves placing an unexpected and often dark twist on the logical conclusion of a joke. An example of this is the joke Frankie Boyle used on Never Mind the Buzzcocks when introducing Michelle Williams, former Destiny Child (least famous) member: “Meet Michelle Williams, one of the world’s most beautiful, creative and most successful singers of our age’s…friend.” 

The American comedy roast tradition is another forum for Character Assassin. The concept behind the comedy roast was born in the 60s through the in-house comedian Friars Club roasts and later popularised by Dean Martin’s televised celebrity roasts. 

The idea behind a roast is to invite a celebrity guest and a panel (or gaggle) of friends and comedians and for each of the comedians to fire jokes at the expense of the guest of honour (and the other panel members). Some the most skillful ‘roast’ exponents include Jeff Ross, Greg Giraldo, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer and the father of Friars Roasts Don Rickles. There is often a fine line between the witty and incisive and excessive cruelty. The expert Character Assassin manages to maintain a charming and cheeky playfulness combined with clever and expectation defying one-liners. The roasters are accordingly regarded as the true poets of stand up, such is their skill to shape language.
To catch some great local comedy and identify the styles and techniques of the Darwin comedy crew, head along to:

Sticky Situations | Thu 2 Nov | 7.30pm | Happy Yess | See the event listing

LOL Thursdays | Thu 30 Nov | 8.30pm | Beachfront Hotel | facebook.com/topendcomedy

Will Crawford is an up-and-crawling comic. He moonlights as a land rights lawyer and policy activist. 

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