Comedy routines, also known as sets, are short bits or acts of a comedy routine acted out and revealed through a witty and entertaining manner of presentation.
Stand-up comedies are almost always non-comedic acts and rely mainly on the comedian’s ability to elicit laughs from the audience with his delivery. Improvisational, the style in which a comedian makes use of everyday objects and events, is also often regarded as a form of comedy. However, non-comedic acts and sets are also used to bring entertainment to an event or to simply make people laugh.
One popular form of comedy routines is the fish tale. A fish tale is a single act set in the setting or time period of the story and told with a single funny event involving the main characters of the story. Fish tales are used as an alternative to the more old-fashioned punch lines and setup of a stand-up comedy routine. A popular fish tale would be a retelling of the plot of a famous joke by a popular comedian; in other words, a joke that has already been told thousands of times. A joke like that would have the best chance of being a huge success, and a source of endless derision by audiences.
Many of today’s most popular comedians have incorporated alternative forms of comedy into their routines. Bill Cosby’s jokes, for example, veered towards sensitive topics like race and religion and took on an entirely new light when he took up the subject of his own sexual harassment accusations against him. Similarly, Jerry Seinfeld took on a lighter vein when he became the spokesperson for President George W. Bush during his second term as president in the later stages of his administration.