Stand-up comedy is a serious source of inspiration.
As a form of creativity, it moves in real time. It comments on the state of all things, from the sense of self, gender, politics, sociology, pop culture, dating, parenting… to simply being a human. It cuts to the heart of the human condition from personal points of view that tap into the greater whole. It captures the mood of society and lets us know what people are really thinking underneath it all.
Stand-up can inform a way to structure, write and think about comedy. I like the way people twist language and tone and physicality to communicate. A story or point of view can unfold, bringing the audience along, filling in the gaps and reading between the lines. Stand-up often treats us like we’re smart. Which is nice.
But beyond humour, stand-up can also be so very clever and insightful.
I’ve often thought that a great advertising insight is like good stand-up. It’s a notion you know to be true but hadn’t heard articulated before. You have that "aha" feeling that other people in the world feel the way you do about something, when you may have thought it was just you. A connection to the human race. And often the absurdity of life.
Although I love to laugh, having stand-up as an influence on my work doesn’t mean it’s all funny. Often quite the opposite, in fact. I like the raw, often dark and dangerous truth of it. The way it can be poignant and brutal and unapologetic. Humans showing their vulnerability. And doing so courageously.
From Bo Burnham and Ricky Gervais to Chris Rock, Hannah Gadsby (pictured), Tim Minchin and Amy Schumer, there’s no one stand-up comic for me. I like varied styles and points of view. To understand the skin I’m not in. It’s not about agreement. (Although sometimes I really do.) It’s more about having my thoughts provoked and brain tickled. At times that can push me outside my comfort zone. And that’s exactly where I want to be.
There, and having a laugh.
Tara Ford is executive creative director at DDB Sydney