Your free what's on guide to the top end

Comics' Corner – Dec/Jan

Comedy, like all art, is subjective in its appeal. Unlike other art forms, however, comedy seeks to elicit a particular and visceral response from its audience: the involuntary diaphragmatic spasm, also known as the humble laugh. A comedian’s success is judged, almost solely, on whether he or she can excite the audience to achieve this physical ecstasy. It is also why comedians make such good lovers…

The Mechanics of Comedy – Part 2

By Will Crawford.

Comic styles come in all different shapes and colours. From the acerbic and subversive brilliance of 'Truth Tellers' Aamer Rahman, Bill Hicks, Bill Burr and Jim Jefferies (when he’s not being a misogynist), to the ethereal whimsy of the 'Surrealists' James Acaster, Kristen Schaal and Noel Fielding, to the delightful charm of the 'Geeky Misfits' Nick Helm, Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon or Richard Ayoade’s Maurice Moss, to the anti-authoritarian joy of the 'Post-Punk Anarchists' Alexei Sayle, Rik Mayal and Adrian Edmondson, to the playful suspense of the 'Storytellers' Maria Bamford, Billy Connolly and Celia Pacquola, there are many techniques that comedians employ to make us laugh. 

The Misanthrope

Misanthropes often paint bleak verbal pictures for comic effect. My favourite being the roguish Dylan Moran (Black Books) and Sean Lock (8 Out of 10 Cats). Both employ word play to both delight us with unexpected shifts of perspective and disturb us with their unapologetic and (we hope exaggerated) distaste for humanity.

A good example of this is Moran's line “Some people say I’m grumpy. It’s not something I’m aware of. It’s not like I walk around poking children in the eye – not the very small ones anyway”.

Lock is another comedian who is able to write macabre one-liners that parody his own inappropriate behaviour and cynical worldview. Some of my favourite Lock Misanthropist one-liners include:

“One Christmas my wife said ‘surprise me’, so I phoned her from Morocco.”

“Twitter is for people who can’t shut the **** up, even when they’re on their own.”

“My favourite chat up line is ‘does anyone know you’re here?’.”

“When they did the autopsy on Michael Jackson they found six different chemicals, and two of those were artificial colouring.”

The sitcom version of the Misanthrope is the innovative 1999 The League of Gentleman that skilfully and innovatively scaffolds hideous characters around some dark and morbid narratives to hilarious effect. 

Often refreshingly honest about their moods and dislikes, Misanthropes allow us to revel in the fine details of their discomfort and disgust. 

To see a local example of a black and slightly surrealist comedy, check out:

Suicide in B-flat | See the event listing

To catch some great local comedy:

Holidays from Hell – Top End Comedy Stand-up | See the event listing

Leave your dignity at the door at:

LOL Thursday - The 12 Comics of Christmas | See the event listing

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

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