Stand-up comedy - investing in culture and innovation

Stand-up comedy has made a remarkable comeback in recent years, particularly in big cities. But what is its added social value and to what extent can parallels be drawn with the start-up world? As a performing presenter for stand-up comedy shows, and a member of the marketing team at TEG, I would like to explore this question.

Comedy clubs, open mics and stand-up shows - these formats are widespread and popular in many major cities. While these places function as cultural spaces offering room for entertainment, they also provide stimulation, create communities and enable exchange.

The concept of stand-up comedy is simple. Artists with or without stage experience perform self-composed, humorous texts within a set time on stage, similar to poetry slams, and test their own material in front of small-sized crowds. For this they draw on realities of life. Everyday life is addressed, political debates are taken up and crises are commented on humorously - society and its dynamics are penetrated.

Anyone who thinks they can relax in the audience as an outside observer and simply listen is mistaken, for comedy lives largely from the transgression of boundaries. Transgressions that allow the viewer critical reflection. Especially in a progressively changing world with an increasingly woke society, this could incubate new ideas. For the impetus of thoughts to resolve an issue raised in the comedy club that transgressed boundaries can lead to reflection and action.

Using comedy as a means to facilitate people to reflect on socio-critical issues through the combination of entertainment and direct addressing, actually presents itself as a needed approach for tackling the issues and problems of our time. Through the lightness of humor and the emotional appeal, highly complex topics are simplified for a moment, made accessible to the general public and broken down through satirical, ironic, sarcastic commentary that are afterwards discussed.

The stand-up scene becomes a safe and free space to approach topics from other perspectives. Comedy does not want to explain the world or instruct the audience, it merely serves its viewers with a stimulus to adopt a different point of view. It helps to reflect on a statement that seems critical, to support the formation of one's own opinion and to draw one's own conclusion from the input offered - comedy leads to a togetherness of people and of people with their environment.

People and the environment and perhaps the desire to bring about change. Today’s world is a rich place of construction sites that must be actively addressed in order to guarantee survival in the future. With climate crises, wars, economic downfalls, pandemics and much more, creativity and innovation are needed and inspiration can be found everywhere.

So where can we build the bridge to start-ups and their ecosystems?

In the certainty of one's own opinions, the reaction of the environment to the offer made and, the openness to constant improvement of one's own original ideas.

Similar to startups, a comedian can never predict prior to the actual performance of their set whether laughs will fall, people will grasp the punchline, let alone understand the entire joke. One can never be sure and has to question one’s own abilities while keeping up with the changing times. Topics of conversation change and so do the jokes and complexity of topics worked on. If touch with reality is lost, comedians and founders alike may fail to succeed. It is the constant observation of oneself and the environment and the search for the things that supposedly no one has yet discovered though they are so obvious that is the key in comedy - as with start-ups and their development of disruptive ideas and projects.

by Mar Verkerk

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