Wikipedia's list of humorists are categorised as people who write or perform humorous material, but the article also states:

A humorist is usually distinct from a stand-up comedian.

Woody Allen and George Carlin are on this list—clearly, a stand-up comedian can also be a humorist.

There are various distinctions on the web.

Humorists typically receive higher pay.

This is ambiguous; one's salary does not define their job.

A humorist’s job is to make people laugh at important things.

Whilst I find this distinction more satisfactory, it's still open to debate: the importance of material is subjective.

How does one determine when a comedian is also a humorist?

  • 3
    Sounds like "humorists" are more pretentious than comedians. ("Humorist" is also clearly a broader term, as that article mentions: "Some humorists write books, columns, essays, and articles"—sombody can do these and be a "humorist" without ever doing stand-up comedy.) It is confusing to me also how someone could be a comedian without being a humorist. Hope you get some good answers! – herisson Mar 30 '16 at 16:24
  • Macmillan Dictionary has for humorist: "someone who writes in a clever and funny way about real people and events, often for newspapers" – MetaEd Mar 30 '16 at 16:31
  • 2
    This is a question involving specialist usages. I can find overlapping definitions. I'd say that in general (outside the profession) usage, a comedian virtually needs a live audience, and 'humourist' is a higher-register term. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 30 '16 at 16:54
  • 2
    Comedians make fart jokes. Humorists jest about breaking wind. Great comedians take a s--- on the stage. – jimm101 Mar 30 '16 at 19:05
  • 3
    Mark Twain was a humorist, not a comedian. A comedian is a performer. It might (or might not) help to know that comedian also means an actor in a comedy. And in French (from which English grabbed the word) a comedian is an actor (not necessarily in a comedy). A comedy in Ancient Greece was an amusing story of conflict. – Drew Mar 30 '16 at 19:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.