The differences between comedy shows and plays are many and obvious. When perusing through Facebook and finding various promotional links for various live performances, I often don’t need to see a picture or read a review to know if it’s a comedy show or a play. Most of the time, the mere title says it all.
Here’s a list of show titles. See if you can guess which ones are for live comedy shows or plays. Have fun! (Answers are at the bottom.)
The Persistence Of Passion
How To Please Socrates
Children Of The Electric Fence
So What Else Is Going On?
The Bookkeeper’s Lament
A Savage Remodeling Of The Heart
Makin’ It Weird
The Theory of Revolution
Getting It Up
Put It In Your Hole
Tree Of Strife
The Solitude Of Her Curse
The Journey Of Her Deceptive Smile
The Embrace Of Her Branches
The Great Divorce
The Hymen Lick Maneuver
Comedy Night At Dave’s
The Persistence Of Passion: Play. Most definitely a play. Most show titles with a prepositional phrase in it will be plays. The Something Emotional Of The Something Else Poignant. You get the picture.
How To Please Socrates: Play. You got no business dropping Socrates’s name or any other ancient philosopher’s name in the title of your comedy show. Unless it’s Plato. And even then it’d have to be something like: Dana Plato’s Hot.
Children Of The Electric Fence. Play. The most depressing play you will ever not see. The winner of The Most Depressing Play Award, which does not exist but would if this play existed.
So What Else Is Going On? Comedy Show. To me, the biggest giveaway here is the question mark. Comedy shows titles love punctuation marks. Ask Latino comedy shows!
¡Mexican’t! Comedy show. See?
The Bookkeeper’s Lament: Play. Anything that makes you fall asleep during the title is a play.
A Savage Remodeling Of The Heart: Play. Oh my god, is this a play! The word “heart” not only tells you it’s a play, but also clues you in to how long that play’s going to be. Answer: no less than three hours. No play with the word “heart” in the title has ever lasted less than three hours. (This, of course, is not strictly true, but it feels emotionally true.)
Makin’ It Weird: Comedy Show. But it’s not just the apostrophe that clues you in. The term “making it weird” is comedy talk for “awkward,” that moment during a show where some guy says something that he probably shouldn’t have said and, well, made it weird. For everyone. If this were a play, it’d be called: The Manufacture Of Weird.
The Theory Of Revolution: Play. Again, the prepositional phrase, but this time mixed with the hint of political bite. This play sounds like a sausage fest with army uniforms, berets, disembodied voices speaking over loud speakers and a message about how war is wrong. Or something.
Assplay: Play. Tricked you! I think putting the word “play” in the title of your play is actually more courageous than putting the words “comedy” or “show” in the title of your comedy show. The title Assplay could trick comedy fans to see it because they thought they were going to a comedy show, but could also trick theatre fans to see it because they thought they were going to a play. What we’re left to imagine here is how each group of fans determines how to walk out of the show once they’ve discovered their mistake. Walking out of a play called Assplay is hard. Walking out of a comedy show called Assplay is not only easy, but on many levels expected.
Your Underwear: Comedy Show. Duh.
Getting It Up: Comedy Show. This title conjures up dicks. And if dicks are close by, it’s a comedy show.
Put It In Your Hole: Comedy Show. Though I want it to be a play.
Tree Of Strife: Play. Probably about a family that’s perfectly loving and free from any dysfunction whatsoever.
The Solitude Of Her Curse: Play. You should’ve said “play” right from the word “solitude.”
The Journey Of Her Deceptive Smile: Play. Any title that summons an image of a thing doing something that it can’t actually do, it’s probably a play.
The Embrace Of Her Branches: Play. Look: If a tree is even remotely hinted at in the title, it’s a play.
The Great Divorce: Play or Comedy Show. Yup. I can totally see this working as either. As a play, it deals with a group of loud-talking people who stand on stage and pretend to hate each other. As a comedy show, it deals with a group of loud-talking people who stand on stage and actually do hate each other.
The Hymen Lick Maneuver: Neither Play Nor Comedy Show. No playwright would name their play that, and no comedian would go to the trouble of spelling “maneuver” correctly.
Alotta Mohammads: Comedy Show. Though it’d make a great musical too.
Pootenanny: Comedy Show. Nowadays, the only way to get me to see a play would be to name it Pootenanny.
Dying Breaths: Play or Comedy Show. Take your pick really. The title’s doomy tone applies perfectly to the disaster that a comedy show can be as well as to the artistic interminability of the world’s worst play.
Comedy Night At Dave’s: Both Play and Comedy Show. Okay, this one was a trick. Comedy Night At Dave’s does take place in a bar, a typical comedy show venue, but is performed by several actors on a tiny riser. The show is performed to deafening and deserved silence.
By the way, I made up all the titles here. So if your play or comedy show happens to have the same name as any of these fake shows, I am a truly brilliant human being.