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History of Stand-up Comedy

Learn about the roots and early pioneers of stand-up comedy, from the classic days of radio comics through the birth of the comedy club in the 1970s, the stand-up boom of the 1980s (and subsequent collapse in the 1990s) and the modern-day "alternative" comedy movement.

The History of Stand-up Comedy
Though the history of stand-up comedy in some form can be traced back as far as the 1800s, stand-up as it's known today didn't really come into its own until the 1970s. Over the next four decades, stand-up exploded, then nearly disappeared from the cultural landscape only to bounce back stronger than ever. Read all about the highs and lows of stand-up comedy over the last 40 years.

History of Stand-up Comedy - The 1970s
The 1970s marked the birth of modern stand-up comedy. From the appearance of a new generation of comedians to the rise of the comedy club, this was the decade that changed stand-up forever.

History of Stand-up Comedy - The 1980s
Stand-up comedy exploded in the 1980s. Between the proliferation of comedy clubs and new TV shows devoted to comics, stand-up was everywhere during the decade.

History of Stand-up Comedy - The 1990s
All good things must come to an end. Read about the decade that saw the near-death and rebirth of stand-up comedy.

History of Stand-up Comedy - The 2000s
In the 2000s, stand-up comedy had bounced back from the '90s decline. Read about the changes in stand up during the 2000s and how comedy not only got back on top, but stayed there.

History of Stand-up Comedy: 2010 to Present
Stand-up comedy continued to evolve post-2010, moving out of the comedy clubs and onto the internet. Read all about the changes here.

The Serious Business of Comedy Clubs
Check out this excellent 1992 article from The New York Times that chronicles the collapse of the comedy club boom in the 1990s.

The First Stand-up
This is a pretty good article (originally appearing on the Two Drink Minimum website) about the earliest origins of stand-up, dating back to the 1800s. Give it a read.

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