It’s hard to define great comedy, simply because humour is so subjective. What might be funny to one person might not be funny to the person sitting next to them, or downright offensive to the person sat behind them. Perhaps the world’s greatest comedians are the most well-known, or the most well remembered, or maybe they only have to be the most well-loved.
Famous Comedians In History
One of the most well-known and well-loved comedians in entertainment history must be Tommy Cooper. Cooper was technically a magician, but found fame in making his audience laugh with jokes and “failed” tricks, including a few magic tricks that worked in his act where they were least expected. Cooper was so funny, in fact, that when he collapsed in front of millions of TV viewers from a heart attack in 1984, the response in assisting him was delayed because everyone thought he was joking. Needless to say, this ended in tragedy for Cooper, who is to this day remembered fondly as one of the world’s greatest entertainers.
Comedy In The Current Media
Modern comedy is a very different beast to the entertainment industry of the 40s and 50s. Stand-up comedy as we know it today only became popular around the 70s and 80s. Many, such as George Carlin – who in 2004 was named by Comedy Central as the second-greatest comedian of all time, behind Richard Pryor – became famous for their social commentary and black humour, toeing the thin line between being funny and offensive. This is a far cry from the acts of Cooper’s time, which were far more family-friendly.
Truthfully, it’s difficult to name one or two comedians as the world’s greatest, due to the simple fact that comedy changes just as society’s standards do. What was considered funny fifty years ago might well be considered rather boring to a more modern audience, and now today’s style of “offensive” comedy is falling out of favour, with many comedians being labelled as racist or sexist for their jokes. Perhaps great comedy is only a matter of personal taste.
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