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Stand-up comedy has been around for centuries, making people laugh for generations. Through the years the forms and techniques stand-up comedians use have shifted back and forth. Self-deprecation humor is one of these forms of humor, where the comedian pokes fun at his or herself, and it has recently become more incredibly popular in today’s society. Stand-up comedians like Louis C.K. have risen to newfound popularity by using self-deprecating humor almost completely in their sets. This paper attempts to answer the question of why audiences respond so positively to stand-up comedians who use self-deprecating humor. It does so by arguing that there are several reasons for this, including how self-deprecation is trending in other aspects of society and how self-deprecating humor rises and falls in popularity but always remain present in American humor. However the audience also feels more comfortable laughing directly at the comedian than at a certain controversial demographic, and although it is the comedian’s performance, by using self-deprecating humor, the comedian relinquishes some of his/her authority and power on stage to the audience because the audience has the power to decide whether to participate by laughing.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)



Humor, self-deprecation, stand-up comedy


English Language and Literature

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Jessica Gordon


© The Author(s)

Stand-Up Comedy and Self-deprecating Humor