Comedy has its own language. There are many terms that are used regularly, whether it's about killing an audience, dying on stage, or topping a joke, people who are becoming initiated to the world of comedy need to know what some of those terms mean.

Below is a list of common terms to help you enter the comedy world.

These are some commonly used comedy terms:

ad-lib - a line that is made up on the spot during scripted material.

beat - this has two meanings. Either it can be used to describe a section of material (see "bit" below) or mean to take a a pause for some comedic effect.

behavioral jokes - using non-verbal elements to comedic effect. This often uses emotions, character elements, body language or sound effects. Think of Richard Pryor walking as if he were white, etc.

bit - this has two meanings. It is a section of material, or a part of a section depending on context. It may also mean an entire self-contained comedic piece with its own purpose.

blue - "dirty jokes". Material with a lot of sexual material, "potty humor" or inappropriate language for its own sake.

bomb - to fail in a comedic performance.

booker - someone who hires comedians to perform.

callback - making reference to earlier material.

capper - the last topper (see below), geared towards getting the biggest laugh.

catch phrase - phrase designed to be a trade mark, something that the audience will remember the comedian for.

closer - the final joke in a set.

creative misunderstanding - a purposeful mistake in the interpretation of an idea for a comedic effect

dying - similar to bomb, except currently in the process of bombing.

Emcee or MC - introduces the performers and hosts the evening.

gag - a joke.

gag file - a file or journal of jokes to be used in the future or to develop material.

get it - often used to describe the understanding of a joke.

headliner - the star of a larger show. The "name" that is used to sell an evening of comedy. Usually performs last.

heckler - someone who interrupts, usually by shouting insults.

inside joke - a joke targeted to only a few people in an identifiable group. Others would not have the information to "get" the joke.

joke file - a file or journal of jokes to be used in the future or to develop material.

killing - to perform extremely well. The opposite of dying.

line-up - a list of pieces to be performed (improv) or the comics set to perform.

long form - collection of improvised scenes or games based on a single audience input.

LPM or laughs per minute - a theoretical measurement of how quickly the laughs come during a show. The idea being that the more LPM, the better the performance. A set with a low LPM would have to get more tight.

mic - abbreviation for microphone.

on the road - traveling to perform.

one-liner - a quick joke.

one-nighter - a one night gig.

open-mic night - a night that allows anyone to get on stage.

opener - the comedian that is first, or opens the show in a line-up.

opening line - the first line of a routine.

POV - point of view.

premise - the central concept to a routine.

punch line - the line that is supposed to derive the laughter from the audience.

regular - local comedian who appears regularly.

reveal - that which exposes the creative misunderstanding or humor.

running gag - a recurring bit that repeats often during a routine.

scene - a single location and scenario that two actors perform within.

set - a stand-up comedy routine of any length.

short-form - a single scene or game performed in an improvisational show based on an audience suggestion.

showcase - a performance offering exposure to its performers (often instead of compensation).

sketch - a prepared scene for comedic material to be presented in a theatrical setting.

skit - a sketch, but with a slightly less professional connotation.

stage time - the amount of time on stage a performer has.

tag line - the final line of a comedic setup. Usually a line that leads to the end of a bit and allows the moving on to the next piece.

topical humor - jokes about current events.

topper - a gag playing off a previous gag. These top one another building on laughter leading to the capper.



We remember those who have helped to make the comedy landscape what it is today.

Improv Comedy


Improvisational comedy has been a great way for people to bond and to see something that only the people in the room can share. The show couldn't be repeated even if the performers tried to.

Stand-up Comedy


The traditional form of comedy where someone literally stand-up before an audience. The comedian tells stories and jokes to entertain while possibly speaking towards a specific theme.



Find locations around the province where you might find comedy. This can include cities, towns, and areas in various regions. These can include public shows and private parties.



Learn a bit of the vocabulary used by comedians to communicate with one another. It can help you understand the process and the people who have chosen comedy as a vocation.