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Stand-up tragedy is a style of tragic performance where a performer performs in front of a live audience, speaking directly to them. Unlike the goal of Stand-up comedy which is to evoke laughter, the goal of Stand-up tragedy is to make the audience members cry.[1]


Stand-up tragedy performances are usually long and employ the use of various media such as video, audio, highly emotional monologues and rants where the performer recites a fast-paced succession of tragic and disturbing stories. Stand-up tragedy is often performed in bars, nightclubs, private homes, art galleries and institutions.[2]


The origin of the term Stand up tragedy is unknown however the comedian Brother Theodore (1906–2001) used the term to describe his comedic act which was dark and had an absurdist edge.[3] The Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-) often refers to himself as a "stand-up tragedian", [4] and performance artist Bryan Lewis Saunders uses it to describe his own act in a more literal sense of the term.[5]


  1. Thacker, Johnathan. "Bryan Lewis Saunders Offers Original Material To The Area." East Tennessean 14 May 2010. Print.
  2. Mueller, Jon. "Interview: Bryan Lewis Saunders." Rhythmplex April 2009. Web. 26 April 2009.
  3. Martin, Douglas. "Theodore Gottlieb, Dark Comic, Dies at 96." The New York Times. 6 April 2001. Print.
  4. W W Norton & Co Inc. Ferlinghetti, Lawrence. "Far Rockaway of the Heart." New Directions Publishing Corporation, Sept. 1998. Print. ISBN 0811213986
  5. Pratt, Geoff & Gorman, Ty. "The Tragic Liberation of Bryan Lewis Saunders." Vision [Johnson City, TN] 15 November 2007: 4. Print.
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