Putting The Accent On Humour

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A recent study revealed that the accents that comedians have might play a part in their success with audiences at comedy gigs. 51 per cent of people polled thought that the London Cockney accent added to the comic delivery, which might explain why so many London comedians are big stars, selling out arenas night after night. 

Other accents that seem to work well for comedians are Liverpudlian, which polled 50% and Glaswegian, which polled 48%. So it was all pretty close for those regional voices.

Not such good news though if you are posh and want to become a comedian. Received Pronunciation or the Queen’s English with 6% was found to add the least to punchlines.

So it seems as if it's not just what you say, its the way that you say it. To be honest I found this quite a surprise. Surely we are listening to the words, not the sound of the words? 

Surely it's the actual words and their meaning that make us laugh. I would not place a bet on a comedian being funny just because I was told they were a cockney. If you want to place bets there are other places to go to rather than comedy clubs like this microgaming slot.

A witty pun or some clever wordplay is a witty pun or clever wordplay whether the person saying it comes from Hackney in East London or Harrogate in North Yorkshire.

But it appears that I'm wrong. I guess stand-up comedy is more subtle than that. There are nuances to the human voice that can aid the delivery of a joke. Otherwise people would be out of a job and robots could stand onstage and sell out the 02 Arena.

I think the survey only looked at UK accents, which is a shame because I'm a big fan of comedians with American accents. As long as the comedians are American of course. Faking an accent is another matter entirely and you've got to be very good to pull that off.

I do remember there was once an English comedian who performed with a Welsh accent because he thought it was more suited to comedy. Nobody ever twigged it was fake but on the other hand he eventually reverted to his own accent. We can never know if he would have been more or less successful if he had sounded as if he came from Cardiff.

Maybe an accent is important because it is one of the first things you notice when a comedian starts their act. They say that first impressions count on a date and that you can tell whether a date is going to work out in the first 30 seconds and the same is probably the case with a performer.

Once someone starts speaking maybe the audience unconsciously makes their mind up about whether they are going to enjoy their act before they have even got to the punchline of the first joke.

Stand-up comedy can be a cruel business and an impatient one. Once an audience decides it does not like you it is very hard to turn things round. I go to a lot of club gigs where I've seen major acts popping in to try out material and I've even seen primetime comedians have a hard time in clubs when they are trying out new material.

l review comedy and I like to think that I've never given anyone a bad review because of their accent. But who knows? Things go on in our brain as we process material that we may never be aware of. Maybe it's their accent that made me give someone a bad review and I did not even realise it. Then again maybe it was their shoes. Or maybe their hairstyles. I keenly await a new survey saying that hair colour has an effect on whether you laugh at a comedian. Maybe blondes have more funnies.

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