Laughspin analysis: What does it take for a comedian to gain mainstream success?

By | August 30, 2011 at 8:41 am | 7 comments | feature slider, News, Opinion | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been said many times over, but comedy is subjective. What makes one person laugh is almost assuredly different from what makes another person laugh. However, the debate intensifies, despite subjectivity being the main force at work here, what makes millions of people laugh at something versus what leaves them blankly staring at their TV screens.

In the realm of reality TV, it seems in general that stand-up comedy — at least in the intentional sense — is not welcome. It’s no secret that reality TV appeals to the lowest common denominator; it’s loaded with lewd and graphic depictions of what life is like living as a stupid person. The ratings for Jersey Shore, for instance, have never been higher. And American Idol as well as newcomer talent reality shows like The X-Factor and The Voice are going strong. Meanwhile Last Comic Standing died its second death more than a year ago.

The NBC stand-up comedy showcase show attempted to bring live comedy to the forefront of TVs across America, but never caught on like the aforementioned shows or the likes of Dancing With The Stars or even America’s Got Talent. You don’t need to even look at the numbers to figure out that LCS wasn’t all that popular despite featuring some of the funniest people in America.

Most recently, comedian Melissa Villasenor (check her out below), who is a regular at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, almost made it to the finals of the current season of America’s Got Talent with her repertoire of spot-on impressions, but AGT viewers seem to favor the songs and dances and sheer spectacle of other acts (see: Boy Shakira) instead of actual comedy.

It’s almost as if an entire demographic of America is saying, “Yeah, that was funny and all, but did you see that group with the fire and stuff.” I get it that not that all comedians are shooting for the key demos of AGT and American Idol, but what exactly would bring those folks to sit and watch and (hopefully) laugh at a professional stand-up comedian or sketch or improv group? And what comedians who have not broken into the mainstream do you think would do well with the masses? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

About the Author

Jake Kroeger

Jake Kroeger has dedicated his life, for better or probably worse, to comedy. Starting and continually running the Comedy Bureau, a voice for LA comedy, by himself, he also writes and performs stand-up comedy in LA and watches more live comedy than is probably humanly tolerable. He's been a daily contributor to Punchline Magazine, now Laughspin.com because he loves and believes in comedy so much. Said of Kroeger, "...without his dangerously insane, unhealthy work ethic, certain comics would not have any press at all."

  • http://www.facebook.com/daveemrich Dave Emrich

    I still think Kyle Kinane will be the next big thing.

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  • Lsquared1219

    Kyle Kinanae and Rory Scovel will be big in a few years, I think.

  • MrFartMachine

    my vote is for mainstream success is dan cummins, matt braunger, and/or tj miller. kyle kinane will be big in the alternative scene, but probably won’t ever break through to the mainstream.

  • MrFartMachine

    my vote is for mainstream success is dan cummins, matt braunger, and/or tj miller. kyle kinane will be big in the alternative scene, but probably won’t ever break through to the mainstream.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=197600016 Marcos Figueroa

    It’s all about the lowest common denominator. “Yeah, ok, that joke was funny but cant you add something about farts and weeners?”

  • Cody Nelson

    I think that Melissa lady would’ve made it further on that show if she was funny.