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Encyclopedia > Comic timing

Comic timing is use of rhythm and tempo to enhance comedy and humor. The pacing of the delivery of a joke has a strong impact on its comic effect; the same is also true of more physical comedy such as slapstick. Comedy is the use of humor in the form of theater, where it simply referred to a play with a happy ending, in contrast to a tragedy. ... Humour (Commonwealth English) or humor (American English) is the ability or quality of people, objects or situations to evoke feelings of amusement in other people. ... A joke is a short story or short series of words spoken or communicated with the intent of being laughed at or found humorous by the listener or reader. ... Slapstick is a type of comedy involving exaggerated physical violence. ...


A beat is a pause taken for the purposes of comic timing, often to allow the audience time to recognize the joke and react, or to heighten the suspense before delivery of the expected punch line. A punch line is the final part of a joke, usually the word, sentence or exchange of sentences which is intended to be funny and to provoke laughter from listeners. ...


Sometimes those outside the comedy business assume that there must be some set period of silent time "that's funny." Aside from a few comedic pauses intended only to heighten an already established tension, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, pauses are one of the clues we use to discern subtext or even unconscious content - that is, what the speaker is really thinking about.


Jack Benny and Victor Borge are two comedians famed for using the extended beat, allowing the pause to itself become a source of humor above the original joke. George Carlin and Rowan Atkinson are two other stand-up comedians well known for superior timing. Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky, February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974), an American comedian, vaudeville performer, and radio, television, and film actor, was one of the biggest stars in classic American radio and was also a major television personality. ... Victor Borge (January 3, 1909 – December 23, 2000) was a humorist, entertainer and world-class pianist affectionately known as the Clown Prince of Denmark and the Great Dane. ... George Dennis Carlin (born May 12, 1937) is a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, and author, noted especially for his irreverent attitude and his observations on language, psychology and religion along with many taboo subjects. ... Rowan Atkinson on promotion tour for his movie Bean in Hürth, Germany August, 1997 Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (born January 6, 1955 in Consett, County Durham, England) is an English comedian, actor and writer best known for playing the title roles in the UK television series Blackadder and Mr. ...

Contents


Examples of comedians who employ comic timing

George Carlin

Carlin's most famous routine is his "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television", in which much of the humour is derived from his rapid-fire delivery of the seven words "shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits". The remainder of the routine is a mock-scholarly analysis of why these words are not as bad as the world would have us believe - complete with observations like "Cocksucker and motherfucker...well...I can dig why those words might be on the list". Here, comic timing is used again as Carlin moves from the rapid list to a more reasoned - but none the less funny - dissection of the words. George Dennis Carlin (born May 12, 1937) is a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, and author, noted especially for his irreverent attitude and his observations on language, psychology and religion along with many taboo subjects. ...


Rowan Atkinson

Atkinson is another example of timing in this regard. One of his routines involves him reading a class roll of students at what we can assume is an exclusive English school. In one version of this routine, each name is something borderline "rude", such as "Our Russian exchange student (beat) Suckmeov". In this sort of routine, it is very important to use beats as simply racing through the list would spoil the effect of many of the jokes. The alternative version of this routine has the class roll containing inoffensive names, such as Smith or Brown, which are pronounced in a manner designed to make them seem offensive ("Brown" turns into something like "Brrrrrrowwwwwnnnnn") Rowan Atkinson on promotion tour for his movie Bean in Hürth, Germany August, 1997 Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (born January 6, 1955 in Consett, County Durham, England) is an English comedian, actor and writer best known for playing the title roles in the UK television series Blackadder and Mr. ...


Humphrey Lyttleton

Known best as the host of BBC Radio's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, the secret of Lyttleton's particular brand of impossibly perfect comic timing is, in his own words, mostly due to his method of pretending the material in front of him isn't funny at all -- and though it is part of his 'character' on the show to act like there's somewhere else he'd rather be, his execution of double entendres in long and ordinarily boring paragraphs is unparalleled. Humphrey Lyttelton (b. ...


Victor Borge

Commonly recognized as the master of comic timing, the late Danish-American comedian Victor Borge provides even more examples of this art. Much of his routine involved references to particular pieces of classical music, opera and composers. Having learned English as a second language, Borge was known for frequently playing around with its conventions. A prime example is his question to his audience, "Is there anyone who would like to hear the famous Polonaise in A Flat by Chopin?" After hearing the inevitable calls of "Yes, yes", Borge would respond, "Very well, is there anyone here who can play it?" Another famous line is his explanation for the third foot pedal on a grand piano - "The pedal in the middle is there to separate the other two pedals...(beat)...which could be a problem for those of you who have three feet." Borge, therefore, builds his audience up to the joke, but only delivers the actual punchline when he is fully aware that they are silent and prepared to hear it. That said, his famous "Inflationary Language" routine demonstrates the other side of this statement. In this routine, Borge adds one to every "number in the language", making "wonderful" into "two-derful" and so on. The routine then consists of Borge reading a story under this system. The comic timing is seen by the way that he reads alternately slowly and rapidly, in keeping with the action of the story. Victor Borge (January 3, 1909 – December 23, 2000) was a humorist, entertainer and world-class pianist affectionately known as the Clown Prince of Denmark and the Great Dane. ... Classical music is a broad, somewhat imprecise term, referring to music produced in, or rooted in the traditions of, European art, ecclesiastical and concert music, encompassing a broad period from roughly 1000 to the present day. ... Sydney Opera House: one of the worlds most recognizable opera houses and landmarks Opera refers to a dramatic art form, originating in Europe, in which the emotional content or primary entertainment is conveyed to the audience as much through music, both vocal and instrumental, as it is through the... A composer is a person who writes music. ... Frédéric François Chopin as portrayed by Eugène Delacroix in 1838. ...


Margaret Cho

In addition to the uses mentioned above, a beat can serve to allow the laughter to die down after a punch line so that an unexpected second and even funnier punch line can be delivered. One example from Margaret Cho's repertoire is the following: "I performed at the only gay bar in all of Scotland. It was called CC Bloom's. CC Bloom is the name of the character Bette Midler played in Beaches. That is the gayest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. They should just call it Fuck Me Up The Ass." (laughter) (pause) "...bar and grill." Margaret Cho, with Prairie Dawn of Sesame Street Margaret Cho (born Moran Cho on December 5, 1968 in San Francisco, California) is a Korean-American comedian and actress. ... Margaret Cho, with Prairie Dawn of Sesame Street Margaret Cho (born Moran Cho on December 5, 1968 in San Francisco, California) is a Korean-American comedian and actress. ... Bette Midler, on the cover of her Greatest Hits compilation. ...


Physical Comic Timing

Comic timing can also be seen in the more physical forms of comedy as well. Every slapstick comedian from Charlie Chaplin onwards has relied on the physical joke being made at just the right time. The bucket of water never falls until the audience has built up for it to just the right level.


Farce

The farce is another prime example of comic timing. Here, the humour is derived both from rapid speech and rapid movement - people running into and out of rooms at breakneck speed and managing to cause havoc in the process.


Meta-observation

"Ask me what's the secret of success in comedy." "What's the secret of -" "Timing."


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Timely Comics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1668 words)
Timely Comics is the 1940s comic book publishing company that would evolve into Marvel Comics.
Timely was originally located in the McGraw-Hill Building on West 42nd Street in New York City, and later moved to the 14th floor of the Empire State Building.
Timely's other major competitors were Fawcett Publications (Captain Marvel, introduced Feb. 1940), All-American Comics (Green Lantern, July 1940; The Atom, Oct. 1940); Quality Comics (Plastic Man, Blackhawk, both Aug. 1941); and Lev Gleason Publications (Daredevil, Sept. 1940; unrelated to the 1960s Marvel hero).
Marvel Comics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3233 words)
Marvel Comics was founded by established pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman in 1939 as an eventual group of subsidiary companies under the umbrella name Timely Comics.
The "voice" of Stan Lee is what one senses in so many of the Marvel Comics of the first half of the 1960s: his sense of humor and generally lighthearted manner, and the depiction of the Bullpen (Lee's name for the staff) as one big, happy family.
By the time Jim Shooter took the post in 1978, the position of editor-in-chief was clearly defined.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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