The stand-up introduction sequence: Comparing comedy compares

Jason Rutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Two recurrent traits in contemporary research of humour and joke telling are an emphasis on the structure of joke texts and a lack of in situ investigation into audience laughter. This paper offers a different approach by exploring the introduction of stand-up performers by compares in comedy venues. Taking this neglected, but omnipresent, aspect of stand-up per- formance it argues that the introduction sequence plays an important role in framing a series of individual comedy sets into a single performance. It suggests that through encouraging audience involvement and interaction the introduction sequence provides a foundation onto which the comedy that follows is built. Further, the paper argues that these introduction sequences take a form which is common from comp6re to compbre and venue to venue. Through the analysis of performance transcripts it is demonstrated that compare introduction sequences are built around a series of six turns which have a preferred organisation that is recognised both by performers and audiences. This structure is presented in both a rule-based and diagrammatic manner. ©
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-483
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


  • Audience research
  • Comperes
  • Humour research
  • Interaction
  • Introduction sequence
  • Stand-up comedy


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