Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Friday, May 12, 2006

Adult vs Family Comedy: Which is Easier?

A common opinion surfaces whenever ventriloquists discuss comedy material. The opinion, expressed mostly by family venue ventriloquists, holds that adult comedy is easier to write and perform than family comedy. All you have to do is tell dirty jokes and use profanity to get adult audiences to laugh. They call it "going for the cheap laugh," or "taking the easy road."

I disagree. Adult comedy is not easier.

No comedy is easy, either to write or to perform. A poorly written and organized dialogue has no guarantee of success just because it is an adult dialogue. A limited performer will not be well-received simply because the jokes are adult in nature.

In some ways adult comedy is more difficult. Adult audiences tend to be more demanding and, in some cases, jaded by what they are accustomed to seeing. They have specific expectations. Network sitcoms nowadays use mostly adult material, and that's what adults are used to. Adult comedy needs to be current, too, particulary when it includes references to politics and current news events. Paris Hilton jokes won't last forever. Monica Lewinski jokes are almost dead. OJ? Who's OJ? Adult comedians must routinely change their material to keep it up to date.

Family performers often have to make only the kids laugh. When the kids are happy, their parents are happy. Grownups laugh at kids laughing. How easy is it to make kids laugh? Be silly. There is, of course, more to it than that, but you get the idea.


Blogger Mr. Pitts said...

I've been meaning to comment on this one. I've done both. I find comedy clubs to be a very difficult venue. I learned a great deal about myself, but one of the things I learned is that I definitely prefer family venues. My sense of humor and stage persona was described by the club owner of one place (after a bad set) as being too 'vulnerable' The guy liked me too, thought I could write and tell a joke pretty well, but I was just too nice. This was before I was using vent in my act. I wonder how it would go now. I'm fairly certain I'll take another run at adult clubs with the act I'm working on now, just to see how it goes with a new approach. One thing though, and I mentioned this on the list and then worried that I'd restart the nasty food fight we had a few weeks back, I don't find Otto and George funny. And it's not the language or subject matter, I just don't think it's a very funny act. Some people think the act is brilliant. What's your take?

5:58 PM  
Blogger Al Stevens said...

I haven't seen enough of Otto and George to form an opinion. I don't really care for gratuitous profanity or irreverence in any kind of comedy. When the word or notion makes something funny, then it's okay with me. If the language fits the character—a street character using street language, for example—that's okay, too.

11:39 AM  

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