The Role Of Refinement In Comedy

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Comedy has changed exponentially throughout the years. Different genres of comedy have all emerged from the one proceeding before it. For example, vaudeville emerged from black face minstrelsy. Yet, none of the various genres of comedy could have been made without refinement. Two authors that write about refinement are Robert Snyder, and Richard Zoglin. In Snyder’s piece, he makes the claim that businessman BF Keith refined the audience. While in Zoglin’s text, Zoglin argues that Robin Williams refined his performances to be extreme. In this text, refinement is the changing of different aspects of the comedy show, such as the audience and the actual performance. Refinement in comedy is necessary because it keeps the audience interested in a show, and it leads to new styles of comedy. It is important here to distinguish the word refinement from everyday use. In everyday use the word refinement refers to the process of removing impurities …show more content…
Williams was best known for his improvisational talent and his virtuosity on stage. He often jumped from topic to topic, and voice to voice. He even went as far as breaking the fourth wall, and wandering into the audience during shows. Zoglin observes, “The audience had never seen anything like it” (Zoglin 163). The audience was very accustomed to comedy shows structure, in the way that the comedian stood at the microphone and told their jokes. However, Williams was unconventional and refined his performances by adding an unpredictable twist. He didn’t stand at the microphone, and his jokes were more free flowing than practiced and rehearsed. Williams refined his comedic style to be eccentric for the time, and expand out of the social norms of comedy, which ultimately made him a popular and famous

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