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Observational Humor

Observational humor is a generally low-key style of comedy in which the performers base their material on the underlying humor in everyday life. It usually isn't angry or satirical, though some performers (most notably George Carlin) do cross those lines by contextualizing their observations of run-of-the-mill human behavior as symptoms of larger social trends. But most often, observational humor takes a wry, laid-back tone, unapologetically concerning itself with minute yet widely recognizable absurdities that most people don't otherwise dwell upon. Those are the roots of the style's popularity -- it's often suitable for a wide range of audiences, its subject matter is fairly universal, and its fans frequently marvel at the wealth of real-life comedic material they'd never quite noticed before. Observational humor has been around on the standup circuit for some time -- comedians like Bill Cosby and George Carlin employed it heavily during the '60s and '70s -- but its heyday was really the late '80s and '90s, its massive popularity spearheaded by the work of Jerry Seinfeld.