In stand-up comedy, anger is both Coping and Catharsis: NPR

The comedian Mo Amer, seen here in his special Netflix The Vagabond, says that the stand-up has been an important part of his "process of adaptation" with a traveling childhood.


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The comedian Mo Amer, seen here in his special Netflix The Vagabond, says that the stand-up has been an important part of his "process of adaptation" with a traveling childhood.


Veteran comedians know everything about the fun side of anger.

The late George Carlin wrote an excerpt entitled "Floating Hostility". Jerry Seinfeld once said in the Los Angeles Times that "any comedy starts with anger".

The rant is often the most powerful tool of the comedian, whether it's the screaming of Sam Kinison or Chris Rock's tirades, like "Stop telling your kids that you're going to have a lot of fun." they are special! "

Comic Mo Amer is angry – he has spent most of his life explaining his identity. Mo is the abbreviation of Mohammed (as he says, it's the most popular name in the world, but try to find a personalized keychain no matter where); Amer was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents.

At the age of 9, his family had to flee the country during the Gulf War. eventually they settled in Texas. Then, when Amer was 14 years old, his father died.

"I was angry at not having the time with him," says Amer. "There was anger for having very little semblance of family life, and everyone was separated and everyone is in different parts of the world because the war is nil."

Amer discovered that this comedy was a perfect outlet for his frustrations. Much of his material comes from his Middle Eastern immigrant experiences – and as he puts it so well, traveling abroad can be a nightmare. For years, his only piece of identity was a refugee travel document.

On his Netflix special, The Vagabondhe recreates an animated conversation with a customs officer who refused to accept him.

"Stand up, why I love him so much, because it's … you're paid to take a therapy," says Amer. "That was part of my process of adaptation."

Another part is the reaction of the public. Amer said he had received an ovation for interpreting the topic of international travel very early.

"It was one of those moments when I thought," Oh, that's what it's all about, "he says.

Noam Dworman, owner of the famous New York club The Comedy Cellar, explains that it's not easy to make pain in belly laughing. He says that Mo Amer is one of the few who can spark laughter.

"The thing about Mo, is that he has in his life incidents that could cause resentment in someone," says Dworman. "But the way he presents it is with so much charm and appeal, that it's endearing, you know, people love it … they love it."

Stand-up comedians have long used pain, anger and pain to laugh, whether it's screams of Kinison's rage or the self-deprecating sarcasm of the late Phyllis Diller telling the story of her husband getting up and putting on his work clothes. after she asked him to kiss her goodnight.

And the stand-up can be an adaptation mechanism for both the public and the comic strip. People sought the relief of fools and jesters in the Middle Ages.

In his 1962 book, Heroes, Villains and Fools, the sociologist Orrin E. Klapp wrote that this clever idiot is the "safety valve … through which societies release tensions that might otherwise be harmful". In other words, common belly laugh can be cathartic, be it serious problems or spilled milk.

Sophie Quirk, author of Why Stand-up Matters, is a senior lecturer in theater and theater at the University of Kent, UK. She claims that the comedy club offers jokes, social criticism and what she calls a "bonding experience".

"There are comedians that I want to see actively when something happens that makes me angry, say, politically," Quirk said. "And the people around me will express – through their bursts of laughter, their moans and bullshit and so forth – that could be a real empathy with how I feel about it."

Of course, anger is just one of the emotions an artist has to evoke to really connect with the audience. "Some of my jokes also come from empathy," says Mo Amer.

Sandra Bernhard, whose sneers are legendary, agrees that an interpreter must tap into a range of emotions on stage. But she says that anger is like fuel.

"Anger is an energy," says Bernhard. "And I think you should be able to access that aspect of your psyche and be able to express yourself fully within the confines of it."

Within the confines of a comedy club, the tension – or its release – is part of what you pay for.

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