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The Complete Guide To Hack Stand-Up Comedy



Frequently Asked Questions about

The Complete Guide To Hack Stand-Up Comedy was written by Steven Rosenthal with numerous contributions by others. Maintained by Steve Silberberg (stevebo@onramp.net).

HACK (from the British word Hack-neyed) adj. Over used and thus cheapened, trite. (From THE AMERICAN COLLEGE DICTIONARY)

Note (1): This list is written mostly for the benefit of new comics - not for the condemnation of seasoned acts. Just because you see an older comic doing some of these is no reason to start hurling tomatoes. A lot of this material became cliche' because of overexposure in the '80s, and any comic you see may have written it well before it became hack.

Note (2): These guidelines may not apply in Britain. From what I understand, Europe is just now getting a stand-up boom like we Yanks had ten years ago. It is entirely possible that English audiences have not seen these topics a million times.

This FAQ is Copyright 1995-8 by Steven Rosenthal, and is made available as a service to the Internet community. It may not be sold in any medium, including electronic, CD-ROM, or database, packaged with any commercial product, or published in print, without the explicit, written permission of the author, Steven Rosenthal, and the FAQ maintainer, Steven J. Silberberg

-1a "L.A. is different than..."
A ton of comics move to Los Angeles to pursue a television or film ...
-1b "Men and women are really different..."
No kidding. Volumes could be written about how comedians pit the ...
-1c "Cats are different than Dogs..."
Andy Kindler's magazine article THE HACK'S HANDBOOK says that this ...
-2a "What's up with these 7-11 employees?"
I know that Apu on THE SIMPSONS is funny, but that's as far as it goes....
-2b "And I said 'Put down the Donut, officer...'"
Yeah, cops eat donuts a lot. Haven't heard that one before. Same goes ...
-2c "Black people walk or talk or dance differently than White people."(Then demonstrate)
Racists, back me up on this!...
-2d "Now, folks... I have nothing against homosexuals..."
When comics deny their homophobia or racism before a joke, you can be ...
-2e "I was in Alabama recently..."
And let me guess... hmmmm... were the people there stupid and ...
-2f "What would ROMEO AND JULIET be like in da hood?" OR "Could you imagineif The President was Mexican?"
Typically the pattern is: It wouldn't be that way if it was my ethnicity!...
-2g "Horror Movies wouldn't work if the characters were black! Because theywouldn't peek into the bushes... they'd just run!"
Not only is this the same pattern as above, but it's been stolen from ...
-3: Did You Ever Notice That Observational Comedy Is Getting A Little Old?
Have you ever noticed, how a lot of stand up comedian's seem to say ...
-3a "I fly on airplanes a lot..."
Yes, I'll bet you do. Or you used to when there was more of a road to work....
-3b "Bob Dylan/Michael McDonald/Michael Jackson sings funny."
No duh. Let's move on....
-3c "You can't hear what the guy's saying at the Drive through."
Let me guess: So you just mumble back to them. That's original....
-3d "What's up with these Remote Controls?"
What's the use of the eject button?... Our parents in the old days had ...
-3e "Do we have any pot smokers in the house?"
I don't have a joke about that, I just wanted to see who I can hang ...
-3f "Anybody remember GILLIGAN'S ISLAND?"
Yes we do. And we don't know how could they get so lost on a three ...
-3g "Saw a lot of construction on Highway Blah blah blah"
This one's more typical of the Midwest I hear. A comic gets into town ...
-3h "You gotta be careful these days, lotta diseases out there..."
Remember when it was just STDs? Now herpes is like nothing! or the ...
-3i "Have you seen that commercial where blah blah blah?"
THE HACK'S HANDBOOK calls commercials The Hack Happy Hunting Grounds ...
-3j "Have you guys seen this nicotine patch?"
Now, I'm up to three patches a day! I gotta start smoking to get off ...
-4a "So Howard Taft is in the news again..."
It's pretty clear that a topical comedian has to write more currently ...
-4b "What's up with this Lorena Bobbit, huh?"
One of Nostradamus's quatrains goes as follows:...
-5a "...and that's just the women!"
The Bait and Switch is a classic comedy device that'll stay with ...
-5b "What if O.J. Simpson sang the Brady Bunch theme?"
Nothing says, My only comedy influence is MAD Magazine like a lame ...
-5c "I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I'm the illegitimateson of Mario Andretti and Fred Flinstone!"
Or any other two people. I think Judy Carter (or Gene Perret) ...
-5d "Am I going too fast for you sir?"
A typical trick is to pick someone up front to turn the audience against ...
-5e The Invisible Prop
So I'm wearing a beanie with a propeller on it while walking down ...
-5f The "List"
You burrito munching-no job-zit freak-retard-etc-etc-...
-5g "... it's just me"
Hey, does anyone like gay porn? Oh, so it's just me....
-5h "Did I say that one out loud?"
Who said that? I can't believe I said that!...
-5i "Well folks, it's about time for me to get out of here..."
It doesn't take much Show-Business savvy to realize that one should ...
-6a Jack Nicholson
Please, please, please, do not do Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson is done ...
-6b Robert DeNiro
You talking to me? Yes, I am and you've almost as over done as Jack....
-6c William Shatner
Every sketch show in the world does a Star Trek bit. Don't rehash it ...
-6f. Elvis
Hey, I can impersonate Elvis! Why don't I put him in a wacky situation,...
-6e Christopher Lloyd as "Reverend Jim" from TAXI
I'm not sure why this is done so much, but it is. Perhaps it's an ...
-6f Others to stay away from.
Don Knotts, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan, Ross Perot....
-6g Celebrity Impersonaters.
Don't dress up and act the part of your favorite comic! Besides the ...
-7 "That Reunion Tower Sure Looks Like A Penis"
When a hack comes to a new city on tour, most of their 'new' jokes ...
-8 I'm Not Making These Stock Lines Up People!
Some stock lines have been around since the age of vaudeville, yet ...
-9. How To Tell If A Topic Will Be Hack Before It Is
Any news story which allows a hack comic to cover a controversial ...
-10 Wait A Second... I'M A Hack!
Don't panic! There's hope for you yet. All the inventive comics I ...
-11 References
The Hack's Handbook by Andy Kindler. NATIONAL LAMPOON February ...









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