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From Stand-up to Sitcom

There are a large number of sitcoms that star stand-up comedians. Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Roseanne Barr, and Bill Cosby are just a few of the many stand-up comics who have made the transition from stand-up comedy into sitcom, and their shows have been stellar hits with the American public. Given the large disparity between the world of stand-up comedy and the world of sitcoms, the migration to the sitcom medium suggests an underlying appeal that translates well and that communicates something vital to American audiences, something that is irresistible to them.

My hypothesis is that stand-up comedians are solicited for sitcoms and do them so successfully because these comedians have already developed a persona that engages people and gets laughs. The non-stand-up stars of other sitcoms have a persona created for them by the writers, the producer, and the directorùa persona that is not of them, but is artificially induced. Stand-up comedians, on the other hand, have developed a persona that has been forged from their personal experience, their inner being, and their own observations. It is funny, yesùbut it is also authentic. I contend that it is this authenticity of the comedian and his humor that translates well from one medium to another and that this is what the American public responds to so enthusiastically. The stand-up comic is for real, and people can tell.

The transition from stand-up comic to sitcom actor is, at its base, a switch from telling true stories to telling lies. The stand-up comic talks about real things that he knows and has experienced. He may exaggerate to make his observations funnier, but most of his material comes from actual life experiences. Acting in a sitcom is different in that it is a completely fabricated situation, with a plot, characters, and events that are made up by writers and in no way a part of the actorÆs experience. The stand-up comic, although he exaggerates, is tell...

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From Stand-up to Sitcom. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:01, December 06, 2021, from