Comedy changes throughout generations

Comedy has been a common form of entertainment for centuries. As a result of different fads, events and trends, comedy has changed drastically throughout the generations.


Standing for stand-up… Harleysville residents enjoy an outdoor stand-up comedy show due to COVID-19 restrictions. The show featured Jim Gaffigan on August 29 at the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot.

Comedy is, at heart, a form of entertainment many people enjoy around the world. Generations have passed with different types of stand-up comedians and how they go about performing with new content based on the world surrounding them.
Junior Anna Roman notices the differences between the different types of comedy from generation to generation.
“A lot of older stand ups are about poking fun at daily life. Millennial humor is a lot about making fun of themselves,” Roman said.
Millennial stand-up comedian Craig Conant agrees with Roman.
“I know I joke about silly fart stuff and poop stuff but I also joke about my sobriety and I make fun of myself, which I hope to inspire kids to be like ‘Oh this guy was a knucklehead and now he’s not,” Contant said. “Even though most of my content is silly, I do hope to inspire kids to get out of the darkness.”
Junior Nick Mancini believes that there are some off-limit topics when joking with older generations.
“Don’t joke about death, race or drugs,” Mancini said.
Roman goes further in-depth on this idea.
“I think that as society becomes more individualistic, humor about daily life doesn’t appeal as much as it used to because it doesn’t resonate with everyone as well, which could explain why Gen Z has developed a very strange sense of humor,” Roman said.
Being a millennial himself, Conant agrees with Roman’s idea about Gen Z having a “strange sense of humor,” but has a much different perspective on it.
According to Conant, he doesn’t understand Gen Z’s type of comedy and doesn’t think he ever will.
Gen Z’s comedy is the opposite of what stand-up comedy is. The term “meme” is what most Gen Z-ers would call funny, which is just reused templated jokes with pictures or videos, according to Roman.
Along with Gen Z bringing a new kind of comedy with them, they have also brought a more recent culture identified as “Cancel Culture.”
According to Roman, ‘“Cancel Culture’ greatly affects comedians as it doesn’t allow people to recover from their mistakes or apologize after being held accountable for something that others don’t like.”
“[Cancel Culture] terrorizes and scares the comedy community and censors them,” Conant said. “Not even politicians are held up to as high of standards that comedians are and we’re all the messed up people that have made mistakes. It’s the person’s actions, not the words.”
Mancini believes that even when people make mistakes, forgiveness is the key.
“Forgiveness is important, and if change is possible, we as a society should not forget, but simply move on,” Mancini said.
According to Conant, it’s much harder for other comedians and celebrities to have much harder time trying to fix their mistakes than the average person.
“Of course because you’re in the limelight, someone could just lie.” Conant said. “They could rip into you for whatever. It could be 10% true and they could spin it into making you look like a monster.”
Roman believes that celebrities have a harder time trying to fix their problems as well.
“Since the public doesn’t fully know the personality of celebrities, seeing that they’ve done something wrong can change their whole perspective of them, as it becomes their defining trait in the back of their mind when they think of them,” Roman said.
Conant compared old Hollywood when celebrities were accused of being a communist without any factual evidence to today’s “Cancel Culture” when the smallest mistake or a 10% true accusation is brought up.
“[So] Happy birthday! Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Chanukah! Happy Holidays!” Conant said. “I have to say it all or I’m going to get cancelled.”