E27: How do comedians think about writing, editing, and performance? (Rhetorics of Comedy, Pt. 1)

Who says rhetoric can’t make you laugh? And who says making people laugh isn’t rhetorical? Today’s show is the first in a series on Rhetorics of Comedy, in which we interrogate the connections between humor, discourse, and contemporary life.

In Part 1, we bring you a discussion with three local standup comics working in Pittsburgh, PA: Jared Helfer, Tom Higgins, and Lorenzo DiSilvio. We explore the rhetorical dimensions of what they do, ranging from how they define funny (and not funny), their strategies for developing and editing new material, how they negotiate their relationships with audiences and their own “personas” on stage, and their metacognitive processes as writers and performers. We even manage to work in a few jokes!

Jared Helfer on Instagram: @mysticalhoot

Tom Higgins on Twitter: @homtiggins

Check out Lorenzo DiSilvio’s monthly comedy show in Pittsburgh, “A Good Night Out”, which takes place the last Saturday of every month at the Steel City Improv Theater. Tickets for the upcoming Oct. 26 show are available here.

Alex Helberg