Home » Comedy Glossary

Comedy Glossary

Comedy Glossary on BitComedyThe Jargon Starts Here

Here’s a collection of terms used in various forms of Comedy. It’s not exhaustive and we add to it on a regular basis. Most of it is true and some of it is rubbish. Can you tell the difference?

A

Ad-Lib

To say something that is not in the script. It should be spontaneous.

Agent (Comedy)

Well it’s not an agent for change is it?

B

Badgers & Jam

I’ve seen this written but never heard anyone use it. It could possibly refer to the great Eddie Izzard who started out with wonderful riffs using the word Jam. If you know me you’ll know I have an extreme interest in Jam.

Beat

As in ‘A beat.’ This is do really a pause. It’s used more in the US than the UK and refers more to the writing of comedy, especially sit com.

Bit  (Comedy)

That’s what this site is about. Short bits of comedy from an instant joke to 20 seconds of audio or video comedy (some of the stuff on here is a bit longer. The idea is short comedy that gives an instant hit).

Blip

A blip is another term for bit comedy.

Blue Material

A very outdated term and referring to sexual or toilet material. Max Millar, a comedian from the 1930 – 50s would ask his audience if they wanted jokes from his ‘blue book or his white book.’

Bomb

As in to ‘bomb’ on stage is not being funny a bit like ‘dieing on stage.’

Booker

Books stuff doesn’t he/she for comedy clubs?

C

Catch Phrase

You know what this one means.

Closing Line  or Closer

Obvious isn’t it?

Comedian

Everyone is.

Comic

See comedian. O’ you just did?

Corporates (Gigs)

How comedians make money.

D

DVD Comedy

Comedy Gigglebytes (it’s alright I am hitting myself with some blunt celery). Soon to be extinct as we’ll have COMEDY DOWNLOADS.

Double up

A stand up doing 2 gigs in one night and not doubling up in laughter.

Die

Not really. To die on stage is not the same as death. You know, the end thing.

E

Edgy

Fuck off.

F

Fluff

As in my kitten is being used as a sex toy.

G

Gag File

A big book thing where a comedian or comic writer keeps material that works or what he/she is working on. I use a database, because I’m anal.

Gag

It’s a joke not something stuffed into your mouth until you choke.

Gig

A stand up spot.

Green Room

It’s showbiz love. The name given to anything but a  ‘green’ room where performers wait to go on.

H

Headliner

Famous name that a show is sold on.

Heckler

Sometimes helpful more often pissed and showing off to mates.

I

Improvisation

I made that one up

J

Joke

You know one?

K

Kill, to

It’s  not killing is it? Comedians don’t kill, they make people laugh a lot.

L

Latin

Vital to Eddie Izzard.

M

M.C.

Master or Mistress of Ceremonies. They introduce stuff like the great Arthur Smith.

Mike (aka Mic)

Michael Caine who is the patron of the comedy world.

Monologue

One person speaking and different from duologue which is not worth mentioning.

N

Non-Sucker Shot

I made this up. Couldn’t think of anything beginning with ‘N.’

O

Oyster

The name given to anyone with wisdom.

‘O’

“O. I don’t know.” How to respond if someone asks you why that is funny.

Observational Humour

That’s you and me.

One-Liner

A joke then.

Open-Mike

Something to try yourself.

Opener

He or she that opens.

Opening Line

I put this in the glossary just to add words to the page.

Open Spot

A once-in-a-life-time-opportunity-don’t-get-it-wrong.

P

Pause

See beat and then come back here and fill in your own explanation…I’m waiting.

Padding

A bit like a comedy glossary.

POV

Point of View. Would you like one?

Premise

Somewhere only the comedian should know.

Punch Line

Declared  illegal in 2010.

Physical Comedians

Lee Evans. All the other ones are dead or doing physical theatre-clown-stuff.

Preview

A comedian trys out stuff. It may work. He is happy. It may not work. He gets drunk.

Q

Quirt

Short and pleasingly sharp.

R

Reversal, The

A bit like a ‘Reveal.’ See below.

Reveal

A pompous term used by writers.

Riff

Not on a guitar but verbally for the comedian who likes to think comedy is a festival and they can go crowd surfing for thrills and a good grope.

Routine

Don’t do it.

Running Gag

They can work and they can be painful.

S

Schtick

Love this word. Go on use it today. (a Yiddish word for a comedy ‘bit of business’).

Second Banana

A back up comedian. Used by the top ‘banana’ to ge them out of trouble. A bit like a safety net with a joke library attached.

Segue

To move effortlessly between 2 bits of material. Ha!

Set

As in a set period of time to tell jokes, make people laugh and leave with the cash.

Setup

Yep comedians set you up.

Showcase

Show off for free.

Sight Gag

Perhaps it’s just me but I prefer the term ‘visual humour.’ I am a liar.

Sit Com

It’s not the situation is it? It’s the characters.

Sketch
A short piece of comedy performed on the stage, TV, the street or in your work place every day.

Slapstick

Originally it was that, a stick with two bits of wood that slapped together to make a noise. Then it was used to describe silent movie comedians and now it’s used for comedians that can fall over to order.

Surreal

If the governments of Europe all moved one country to the left what would we have? The answer is somewhere on this site.

Stolen

Stolen material means you will be hunted down with dogs, set a flame and presented to Keith Chegwin.

T

Tag or Tag Line

An extra joke added to the end of a ‘routine’ or ‘set’ because comedians can never stop.

Take

A comedian puts on a silly face for an easy laugh.

Throw Away

A throw away line is just left their hoping for a laugh. Used by the deftness of comedians.

Timing

“Antici…………………………………………………pation.” Which show is that from? A top piece of timing in one word.

Topic

Where writers start and where comedians dwell.

U

Can’t find anything for ‘U.’

V

I am not going to make stuff up.

W

Nope. I promised.

X

Please don’t make me…

Y

Yoody

A Hoody member of  your family..

Z

Bugger!