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Cameron Esposito on Taboo Joke Topics: "The Best Defense Against Criticism Is a Better Joke"

"IN THE END: Tell the jokes you want to tell. But know that feedback isn’t censorship or persecution, especially when it comes from a group more affected by the topic of your joke. The best defense against criticism is a better joke."

- Cameron Esposito explains how to joke about Bill Cosby and other taboo standup topics in her latest column for The A.V. Club.

'GQ' Highlights Dave Chappelle as One of 2014's "Men of the Year"

"I have to say that comedians by and large are some of the most sensitive people on earth. Even if they're socially callous. If you sat at the back of a comedy club and just heard the way we banter, you wouldn't know that these were sensitive people, 'cause it's such an open-air market of ideas. The other night, I was talking about Robin Williams with Bob Goldthwait, and people kept coming up to me saying, 'Hey, Dave! Man, thanks for coming. We loved the show, it was so good to see you, blah blah blah.' Real nice things. And I go, 'That's very kind of you. Thank you.' And [...]

Watch Dave Chappelle Do a Four-Hour Standup Set in 2009

NYC comedy club Comic Strip Live has been posting a ton of vintage standup clips lately (see Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, and Jerry Seinfeld), and today they added a new clip that's a gold mine for Dave Chappelle fans — nearly four full hours of him doing standup and riffing with the audience back in 2009. That's right — four continuous hours of Chappelle standup. Hopefully you didn't have Friday night plans.

Eric Andre Discusses the 'Cops' Theme Song and Homophobia at Just For Laughs 2012

While you're waiting for the third season of The Eric Andre Show to begin, Just For Laughs' new YouTube channel just added a clip of Andre performing back in 2012, covering everything from watching Precious on mushrooms to the strange choice to use reggae music for the Cops theme song to what homophobics think about when they're relaxing at home.

Chris Gethard Wants to Do Standup in Your House This November

Comedian Chris Gethard is experimenting with a new way to develop his material that might involve him performing at your house if you're up for it. In a new post on his website, Gethard has reached out to fans who live within four hours of his home base of New York City to try to get some new and interesting non-NYC venues to work on his act. From the post:

I really want to have a whole month where I do low key house shows, where I bring comedy to places that maybe don’t have it as readily available as New York, and in environments that can be [...]

Dan Klein's 'This Is Comedy' Is Both the Best and Worst Standup Special Ever

Comedian and Funny or Die writer Dan Klein released a brand new standup special today called This Is Comedy, which turns out to be the ultimate hourlong collection of standup's worst clichés. It's all here — mic drops, excessive audience pandering ("You guys like the show The Simpsons?"), water bottle breaks, behind-the-scenes clips, hecklers, repeated Starbucks jokes, jokes about how men and women are different, and so much more.

'The New Yorker' Profiles Tig Notaro's Topless NYC Standup Set

"She is a deadpan comedian of the driest vintage, and her face remained stolid. The patches of the audience that were stunned into silence alternated with the patches that were seized by deep, hoarse laughter, resulting in weird patterns of wave interference. Notaro is thin. She stood with her shoulders slightly hunched, her ribs visible, her lack of breasts visible, her surgery scars visible. 'Naked onstage' is a classic premise for an anxiety dream, and the moment felt surreal. So it’s true that she doesn’t wear a bra. Is this being filmed? Is this actually happening?"

- The New Yorker profiles Tig Notaro's standup set last night at The [...]

A Barcelona Comedy Club Is Charging Audiences Per Laugh Through Facial Recognition Software

Well this is weird. BBC News reports that a comedy club in Barcelona called Teatreneu is experimenting with a new way to get more customers to attend shows: Charging them per laugh instead of per ticket. The club installed tablets to the back of each seat with facial recognition software that tracks each audience member's responses during the show and charges 0.30 euros per laugh with a cap of 24 euros total (~$30USD). The experiment has so far driven the comedy club's overall ticket prices up by six euros and is reportedly getting a tryout run in several other Spanish theaters as well, but it's hard to believe [...]

Should All Standup Comics Write Their Own Jokes?

I was thirteen when I first saw a comic glance at his notes on stage, and I remember wondering why I was surprised to see this. Did you think he was making all this up on the spot? I asked myself. Well, I guess I did. Years later, when I began regularly attending comedy shows and would end up seeing the same set a dozen times a year, I began to have a similar feeling. What, I again asked myself, did you think comedians come up with a new routine for every show? Well, I guess I did. After all, isn’t that the rouse that so many standups employ in [...]

Why Chris Rock's 1991 Debut Standup Album Is as Relevant Today as Ever

Chris Rock’s first standup album, Born Suspect, was recorded in 1991, but it seems like it could have been recorded last month. Sure, comics are always kind of mining the same big issues in the human condition and that’s why we get lots of “black people are like this, white people are like this” “women vs. men” jokes. But seriously, both in overall tone and specific cultural references, this album is like…you know…relevant and stuff.

Background: Born Suspect was recorded in Atlanta in 1991 and came out I think only on cassette, although the internet kind of makes all that irrelevant. It was recorded in a black comedy club [...]

Re-Formatting the Comedy Album

Comedy is by nature an adaptable art form. While standups are at home on stage in front of a mic telling jokes, they know how to adjust their methods for a different type of entertainment. When a comedian writes a book, or makes a movie or TV show, they are clearly working within that medium and bringing their sensibilities to bear on it. Monologues become satirical essays, random thoughts become tweets, stories and family experiences become sitcoms. Mulaney, the show, knows it still needs sets and stories and other characters despite its seemingly cut-and-paste appropriation of the title comedian’s on-stage act. When bringing your act to the big or small [...]

Aparna Nancherla to Audience Members Who Record Shows: "Don't Be a Jerk"

Comedian and current host of weekly New York standup show Whiplash Aparna Nancherla wrote an interesting blog post today about last night's show, which featured a surprise performance by Chris Rock that quickly turned sour after several audience members started recording his set on their cell phones. Similarly, Hannibal Buress has been making headlines this week over a six-month-old bit he performed in Philadelphia last week calling Bill Cosby a rapist, which would've never made the news had it not been for an audience member recording the joke then uploading it to the internet. Unlike Buress, however, Rock's appearance at Whiplash last night [...]

The 20 Greatest Standup Specials of All Time

Modern standup has been around in one form or another since vaudeville, but it’s only been since the late ‘70s that the standup special has gained traction as the crowning achievement of a successful comic. Fortunately, the beginnings of the standup special were as fertile as rock ‘n’ roll’s birth 25 years prior, with many of the all-time greats setting templates right from the start.

The material always comes first, of course, but as a video document of a honed act it’s also important to appreciate the visual elements — the framing, editing, and backdrop — and how they enhance or detract from the pacing and quality of the jokes.

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Check Out Old Clips of Louis C.K., Mitch Hedberg, Chris Rock, and More on the Just For Laughs YouTube Channel

If you're a fan of watching old clips of standups honing their craft live onstage, the new Just For Laughs YouTube channel is for you. The Montreal comedy festival recently teamed up with Maker Studios to launch the channel this afternoon, which so far features standup clips from Bill Hicks, Louis C.K., Tracy Morgan, Bill Burr, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Dave Chappelle, and Mitch Hedberg. According to Variety, a total of "over 500 hours of JFL content" will be released in increments of three each week and eventually include content from current festivals. Check out a 1998 performance from Mitch Hedberg above, then click through to watch the [...]