- New York, NY
As in most industries, the stand-up comedy has its own lingo that insiders use to do their work and that helps those who work in the business feel like insiders, which is important due to the fragile egos involved in every aspect of the comedy business.
We have uncovered a list of “inside terms” that we want to share with you so you can feel just as special as a comedian, if even for a fleeting moment.
1. Headliner - Typically the final comic of the night on a show, and usually the one that is most famous or experienced, if not necessarily the funniest.
2. Opener - The first comic of the night (usually after the emcee). This comic usually has less material than the headliner, and is often bitter that they are the opener.
3. The French Reprieve - The act between the opener and the headliner. This act is usually a mime.
4. A Tight [X] - X is a number of minutes. This is how much time a comic states they have ready to go that is really good and show ready. The number stated is usually double the amount that is accurate.
5. A Sloppy 20 - A comic performs an entire 20 minute set while their clothes are practically covered in nacho cheese and ranch dressing.
6. Getting the Light - When a comic’s time is almost up, someone shines a flashlight at them from the back of the room to alert them to wrap up their set.
7. Getting the Pipe Wrench - When a comic refuses to pay attention to the light, a club owner will often hit them on the head with a pipe wrench.
8. Open Mic - A show in which comics, new and old, are allowed to go up on stage and work out material and/or gain experience. It is also an excellent opportunity to do the same material in front of other open mic comics once a week for several years.
9. Open Living Room - A situation in which would be comics corner people at parties, wakes, and book club meetings and regale people with jokes that are usually not funny.
10. Sally Shocker - A female comic who uses offensive material in an effort to get a cheap laugh. Male comics who do this are called “male comics”.
11. Pulling a Gorshin - A comic who does impressions but without any actual material. They just quote something some celebrity said in a movie.
12. Hack - A comedian who uses old, obvious and often stupid material. In the alternative, a comedian’s term for any other comic who is more successful than them.
13. A Nipsey Hustle - Stealing material from Nipsey Russell. Common among new open
14. Papering the Room - A club’s practice of giving out free tickets so routinely that patrons rarely, if ever, actually pay to see a show.
15. Closing the Club - Often the result of papering the room.