Day 8: Greg Giraldo

I’m passing along one stand up set I really like every day this month. Today’s comes from a comic I would have loved to still see performing. Here’s a 2005 Conan appearance from the late Greg Giraldo and some of the ways he gets me laughing:

• SPEED. Comedians can be effective delivering jokes slowly or quickly, but when the pace matches the persona, it’s captivating. Greg has a such strong point of view. He’s worked up and ranting against society, and the speed of his words give an energy that ignites the comedy.

• LABELS. Greg pokes fun at the unrealistic portrayal of women in rap videos by using a vivid label: bitches. We saw in past sets how repetition (Darryl Lenox), juxtaposition (Ian Edwards), and no fat (Phil Hanley) generate laughs, and by employing a label, Greg gets to utilize all those tools. He boils the idea into one word, and then illustrates the distinction between bitches and women through a series of examples that still crack me up. (For Labels, see also: the famous Chris Rock bit.)

• EXTREMES. Heightening a funny idea to its extreme allows us to magnify the absurdity. (Think of caricatures or the old “How BLANK was it” jokes.) Greg does this throughout the set to get big laughs. Whether he’s talking about the greatest city, how he knew he got too drunk, or what would make a truly impressive bicyclist, he takes it to an extreme, and each time successfully tickles my brain.

Hope you liked it. Full link (where he sits with Conan afterwards) in comments. Greg Giraldo passed away, but if you’re interested, he left a rich stand up legacy, including his hour special Midlife Vices, his album Good Day to Cross a River, and his two half hour specials on Comedy Central.