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True Or False: Stand Up Comedians Were Invented By The Mob

Ever wondered why a single person on stage telling jokes is called a 'stand up comedian'? This answer might surprise you. Writer Kliph Nesteroff, author of 'The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy,'f American Comedy' relates a possible explanation.

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"A guy that the mob could rely on would not snitch or rat them up was considered a stand up guy so a comedian that these mob clubs could depend on was called a stand up comic."

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TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

So what was the connection between the mob and comedians? - Well in 1933 when prohibition ended the mob of course controlled all these speakeasies and in order to sort of salvage their investment, now that you could get booze anywhere there was no allure for the speakeasy so most of those speakeasies turned into legitimate nightclubs and they put in stage shows you know with a band and a singer and dance team and a comedian so most of the comedians of that era that reason were working for the mob and if you had some moral objection and say you did not want to work for the mob that is fine but that meant you did not work because everywhere in America didn't matter if it was Philadelphia, Miami Beach, Chicago, New York, everywhere the nightclubs more often than not were controlled by the mob, so that was your boss as a stand up comic, - oh wow, - so in fact I interviewed an elderly comedian a guy in his 90's very obscure named Dick Curtis who claims that that is where the phrase stand up comes from, that it is a mob term because in those days they managed boxers as well, and if they had a boxer that they really liked who would stand up and take abuse and keep punching they called him a stand up fighter, - wow, - and a guy that the mob could rely on would not snitch or rat them up was considered a stand up guy so a comedian that these mob clubs could depend on was called a stand up comic.