In a podcast from March 30, Adam Carolla was complaining to his buddy Dr. Drew that people see a comedian and think, “The only thing you’re good at is getting stoned and going up on stage.” He partially blames comedians themselves for perpetuating the stereotype that they are not a multi-talented bunch.
Though Carolla does stand up comedy, he is also a podcast personality, carpenter, TV show host of “Catch a Contractor,” and an author. Because of all his non-stand up ventures, he is not always perceived as a comedian by interviewers. Comedians aren’t supposed to be multi-talented and Carolla thinks he’s being punished for diversifying. Dr. Drew said Carolla’s diversity makes him more like a “humorist” than a comedian. But what is a humorist?
Definitions for the word “humorist”
1. Oxford Dictionaries: “a humorous writer, performer, or artist.”
2. Cambridge Dictionaries (American definition): “a person who regularly writes or tells amusing stories, esp. as part of a job.”
3. Merriam-Webster lists an archaic use of the word and a modern one.
- Archaic meaning: “a person subject to whims.”
- Modern meaning: “a person specializing in or noted for humor.”
If you were to go to all three of those online dictionaries and type in the word “comedian,” you would see virtually the same definitions for that word as for the word “humorist.” The same is true on Wikipedia. The two words appear to have the same definitions, only reworded to be unique.
However, Wikipedia has more than just definitions. The site also has a list of comedians and a list of humorists. Interestingly, the two lists do not match up. In fact, the list of notable comedians is far larger than the list of notable humorists. Adam Carolla is on the comedian list, between Art Carney and Alan Carr. But he didn’t make it onto the less extensive list of humorists. If he had made it onto that list, he would have been between George Carlin and Lewis Carroll.
While there doesn’t seem to be much difference between a comedian and a humorist, the latter term appears to be the more exclusive one. It has fewer names associated with it on the Wikipedia list, but the names that did make the cut are more diverse and legendary. For instance, you have Moliere next to Michael Moore on the list of humorists. As much as Carolla wants to be seen as a comedian, he probably wouldn’t mind being on a list that includes Moliere.
Perhaps there are special things that some people do to obtain the title of humorist. George Carlin, Lewis Carroll, Michael Moore, and Moliere all used humor to turn the world upside down and make an impact.
Let’s take a look at two comedians who didn’t make it onto the humorist list but have injected humor into important issues outside of stand up comedy routines.
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Sarah Silverman: Westboro Baptist Church protester
We all know funny Sarah Silverman is a gifted comedian. But she’s also a great protester. She fights for equality with a smile, even when she could be angry or mean.
God hates Gaga?
The Westboro Baptist Church is notoriously hateful when they picket. At a 2010 picket in Beverley Hills, prior to that year’s Golden Globes, the Westboro Baptist Church protested Jews, homosexuals, and Lady Gaga (they thought she was a lesbian). Behind the “GOD HATES GAGA” sign this little girl held, her shirt read “JEWS KILLED JESUS .COM.”
Sarah Silverman and Brian Posehn visit counter-protesters
On a gloomy day, with the rain coming down, the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the 2010 Golden Globes. My friends and I decided we ought to picket the church members.
The police were moving the protesters around, so they weren’t easy to spot. I don’t even remember seeing them. However, I do remember my friends and I stumbling across Sarah Silverman and Brian Posehn. They were staging their own humorous picket by pretending to be with the church. They were actually promoting “The Sarah Silverman Program.”
I pulled out my ridiculous one-time use camera, complete with 35 mm film, and tried to get a picture of her. I couldn’t figure out how to make the flash work, so I wasn’t able to quickly sneak a picture of her.
She saw me with my camera. I wasn’t sure what to do when I saw her looking at me. To my surprise, she spoke directly to me and said she wanted to take a picture with me. I told her I couldn’t figure out how to make the flash work. She grabbed the camera and got it working. My friends were rounded up, Silverman (left side, yellow raincoat) put an arm around me, and Posehn stood at the opposite end. My hands were in front of me, because I was too shy to touch her without permission.
If she hadn’t snatched the camera from my grasp, this picture would have never happened. What Silverman did that day was a good thing, because she stole the church’s thunder. She didn’t need to spew hatred at them. She just showed up, had fun, and my friends and I forgot all about the church and their message. As a result, I have that picture of her framed, but I didn’t get pictures of anyone from the church.
Perez Hilton has a much better photo of that day. It shows the signs that Silverman’s people were holding.