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Stand-up comedy is a comic style in which a comedian performs in front of a live audience, usually speaking directly to them. The performer is commonly known as a comic, stand-up comic, stand-up comedian, or simply a stand-up. In stand-up comedy, the comedian usually recites a grouping of humorous stories, jokes and one-liners typically called a monologue, routine, or act. Some stand-up comedians use props, music, or magic tricks to "enhance" their acts. Stand-up comedy is often performed in comedy clubs, bars and pubs, nightclubs, neo-burlesques, colleges and theatres. Outside of live performance, stand-up is often distributed commercially via television, DVD, CD and the internet.
In stand-up comedy, the feedback of the audience is instant and crucial for the comedian's act. Audiences expect a stand-up comic to provide a steady stream of laughs, and a performer is always under pressure to deliver. Will Ferrell has called stand-up comedy "hard, lonely and vicious".
A stand-up comedy show may involve only one comedian, or feature a "headline" or a "showcase" format. A headline format typically features an opening act known as a host, compère (UK), or master of ceremonies (MC), who usually warms up the crowd, interacts with the audience members, makes announcements, and introduces the other performers. This is followed by one or two "middle" or "featured" acts, who perform 15- to 20-minute sets, followed by a headliner who performs for longer. The "showcase" format consists of several acts who perform for roughly equal lengths of time, typical in smaller clubs such as the Comedy Cellar, or Jongleurs, or at large events where the billing of several names allows for a larger venue than the individual comedians could draw. A showcase format may still feature an MC.
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