Hybrid Comedy

October 10, 2012

Stand-up comedy is made to be enjoyed in a dark room laughing along with other people. As a result, it hasn’t always translated to television.

There are commercials, editing and the simple fact that stand-up doesn’t look as good on camera as it does in person. Yet every year, Comedy Central airs several stand-up-oriented series.

Its newest offering, “Mash Up” (Tuesday, 12:30 a.m.), is its most interesting experiment to date. A hybrid of stand-up and sketch comedy, the show features what it’s calling “joke visualizations.” In other words, acted-out jokes. The trend has become popular online: The A.V. Club has “Stand Down,” and Vulture has “Pop Culture Memory Lane.” Both Web series present comics narrating animated recreations of bits. The difference with “Mash Up” is that the comics actually act out their routines.

So instead of just watching Hannibal Buress, above, talk about getting a jaywalking ticket in Montreal, we see him act it out, cutting back and forth between sketch and stage. It’s a little jarring — Buress’ voice literally comes out of the mouth of a Canadian cop — but it shows how, with a little creativity, stand-up can be just as engrossing on TV as it is in a club.

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Rudi Greenberg | October 10, 2012