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Ribaldry in Stand-Up

  • I love stand-up comedy and have watched many specials over the years. I thought a collection of comedy specials would be an interesting dataset to explore, which led me to create this project showing selected stand-up specials plotted in terms of their ribaldry, or use of swearing. When looking into analyzing comedy specials, I found practically every comedian used some collection of swear words in their act. The interesting finding was how varied its use was across different comedians and even across different specials from the same comedian. Some comedians rely heavily on them, while others rarely use them at all. Some used them often in their earlier specials, but less so in their later ones. It is interesting to see how a specific comedian uses these words to their advantage as well as when they choose to use specific types of words. By plotting the use of swearing across a comedy special, you can get a sense of a comedian’s style of comedy, how it has changed over the years, and how it differs from other comedians’ styles.
  • For data collection, I created a CSV that contained every timestamp and type of swear word used across several comedy stand-up specials. This CSV was fed through a Processing script that plotted the individual words for each special. The result is a graphic that succinctly orders and displays the relative ribaldry of selected stand-up specials. I am particularly proud of the amount of information that is contained in each plot, including the titles, the release dates, the set lengths (both numerically and visually), the individual word counts, the total word count, the relative severity of words, and the timestamps themselves.
  • This project involved watching a bunch of comedy specials, which was a lot of fun. I enjoyed collecting the data and hope that this project’s collection of stand-up specials will continue to grow. I encourage you to explore the current visualization and check back here periodically for new updates to the dataset.


  • An interactive version of the dataset is now available on my Tableau Public profile.
  • This version includes a word cluster map, plots of swearing timestamps, a heat table, and a plot based on gender. In addition, every page has filters allowing for custom views of the dataset. Enjoy.
  • Note: The Tableau version currently has data up to, and including, the specials added on January 18, 2017.
Released

  • Jul 2016–
Description

  • Stand-Up Comedy Specials Ordered by Relative Ribaldry

  • Excel & Processing
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Tableau Public
Dataset

Links

Specials Added

  • May 3, 2017
  • Kevin Hart: What Now? (2016)
  • Louis CK: 2017 (2017)
  • Lucas Brothers: On Drugs (2017)
  • Maria Bamford: Old Baby (2017)

  • Mar 28, 2017
  • Jo Koy: Lights Out (2012)
  • Jo Koy: Live from Seattle (2017)

  • Mar 22, 2017
  • The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at The Hollywood Palladium (2017)
  • Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits (2017)

  • Mar 16, 2017
  • Amy Schumer: The Leather Special (2017)
  • Jim Norton: Mouthful of Shame (2017)

  • Feb 28, 2017
  • Katherine Ryan: In Trouble (2017)
  • Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes (2017)
  • Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark (2017)

  • Jan 31, 2017
  • Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out (2017)
  • Craig Ferguson: I'm Here to Help (2013)
  • Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy (2017)
  • Dwayne Perkins: Take Note (2016)
  • Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)

  • Jan 18, 2017
  • Gary Gulman: Conversations With Inanimate Objects (2005)
  • Mitch Hedberg: Do You Believe in Gosh? (2005)
  • Mitch Hedberg: Mitch All Together (2003)
  • Mitch Hedberg: Strategic Grill Locations (1999)
  • Neal Brennan: 3 Mics (2017)

  • Jan 11, 2017
  • Gabriel Iglesias: I'm Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry (2016)
  • Jen Kirkman: Just Keep Livin? (2017)
  • Jim Gaffigan: Cinco (2017)

  • Dec 10, 2016
  • Gabriel Iglesias: Hot and Fluffy (2007)
  • Jimmy Carr: Funny Business (2016)
  • Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain (2011)
  • Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny (2010)
  • Michael Che Matters (2016)
  • Nick Offerman: American Ham (2014)

  • Dec 3, 2016
  • Chelsea Handler: Uganda Be Kidding Me: Live (2014)
  • Colin Quinn: The New York Story (2016)
  • Louis C.K.: Oh My God (2013)
  • Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland (2013)
  • Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour (2011)
  • Patton Oswalt: Werewolves and Lollipops (2007)
  • Wyaat Cenac: Comedy Person (2011)

  • Nov 26, 2016
  • Amy Schumer: Cutting (2011)
  • Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo (2016)
  • Brian Regan: Live (1997)
  • Colin Quinn: Unconstitutional (2016)
  • Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60 (2016)
  • Kathleen Madigan: Bothering Jesus (2016)
  • Nikki Glaser: Perfect (2016)
  • Rachel Feinstein: Only Whores Wear Purple (2016)

  • Nov 19, 2016
  • Bill Burr: Emotionally Unavailable (2007)
  • Bill Burr: Why Do I Do This (2008)
  • Demetri Martin: These Are Jokes (2006)
  • Jim Jefferies: Fully Functional (2013)
  • John Mulaney: The Top Part (2009)
  • John Pinette: I'm Starvin' (2006)
  • Mike Birbiglia: Sleepwalk With Me Live (2011)

  • Nov 12, 2016
  • Bill Hicks: Revelations (1993)
  • Bill Hicks: Sane Man (1989)
  • Louis CK: Hilarious (2010)
  • Margaret Cho: Beautiful (2009)

  • Nov 5, 2016
  • Chelsea Peretti: One of the Greats (2014)
  • Demetri Martin: Standup Comedian (2012)
  • Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted (2016)
  • Tom Segura: Completely Normal (2014)
  • Tom Segura: Mostly Stories (2016)

  • Oct 29, 2016
  • Kyle Kinane: Whiskey Icarus (2012)
  • Margaret Cho: PsyCHO (2015)
  • Patton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time (2014)
  • Sebastian Maniscalco: Aren't You Embarrassed? (2014)
  • Sebastian Maniscalco: What's Wrong with People? (2012)
  • Tig Notaro: Good One (2011)
  • Tig Notaro: LIVE (2013)

  • Oct 24, 2016
  • Eddie Izzard: Dress To Kill (1999)
  • George Carlin: Carlin on Campus (1984)
  • Morgan Murphy: Irish Goodbye (2013)
  • Richard Pryor: Live On The Sunset Strip (1982)

  • Oct 21, 2016
  • Eddie Murphy: Delirious (1983)
  • Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987)
  • George Carlin: It's Bad For Ya (2008)

  • Sep 25, 2016
  • Donald Glover: Weirdo (2012)
  • Hello Kitty Flanagan (2014)
  • Iliza Shlesinger: Confirmed Kills (2016)
  • Iliza Shlesinger: Freezing Hot (2015)
  • Iliza Shlesinger: War Paint (2013)
  • John Pinette: Still Hungry (2011)
  • Kathleen Madigan: Madigan Again (2013)

  • Aug 15, 2016
  • Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts and Prayers (2015)
  • Jim Gaffigan: King Baby (2009)
  • Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed (2014)
  • Myq Kaplan: Small, Dork, and Handsome (2014)

  • Aug 8, 2016
  • Bo Burnham: Make Happy (2016)
  • Bo Burnham: what. (2013)
  • Christian Finnegan: The Fun Part (2014)
  • David Cross: Making America Great Again! (2016)
  • Demetri Martin: Live (At the Time) (2015)
  • Gary Gulman: In This Economy? (2012)
  • Gary Gulman: It's About Time (2016)
  • Wyaat Cenac: Brooklyn (2014)

  • Aug 1, 2016
  • Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (2016)
  • Jen Kirkman: I'm Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine) (2015)
  • Marc Maron: Thinky Pain (2013)
  • Nick Thune: Folk Hero (2014)
  • Trevor Noah: African American (2013)

  • Jul 25, 2016
  • Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive (2013)
  • Aziz Ansari: Dangerously Delicious (2012)
  • Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden (2015)
  • Bill Burr: I'm Sorry You Feel That Way (2014)
  • Bill Burr: Let It Go (2010)
  • Bill Burr: You People Are All The Same (2012)
  • Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace (2012)
  • Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado (2016)
  • Hannibal Buress: Live from Chicago (2014)
  • Jim Gaffigan: Beyond The Pale (2005)
  • Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe (2012)
  • Jim Jefferies: Bare (2014)
  • Jim Jefferies: Freedumb (2016)
  • John Mulaney: New in Town (2012)
  • John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (2015)
  • Louis CK: Chewed Up (2008)
  • Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theater (2011)
  • Louis CK: Live at the Comedy Store (2015)
  • Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend (2013)
  • Mike Birbiglia: What I Should Have Said Was Nothing: Tales from My Secret Public Journal (2008)
  • Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong (2009)
  • Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping (2016)
A Note on Ordering and Word Choice

  • In this visualization, I define "relative ribaldry" to be the severity of selected curse words in a comedy special, meaning the curse words classified as more severe are placed higher up the axis. Derivatives of the displayed words are not differentiated between (For example, “D*MMIT is counted as “D*MN” & “BULLSH*T” is counted as “SH*T”). The y-axis shows the different kinds of curse words used in the special and is identical across all comedy specials. However, the collection of words displayed on the y-axis does not necessarily represent every recorded type of curse word for a given special. In addition, other suggestive themes may be present in individual specials that these graphics cannot accurately differentiate between. The collection of words on the y-axis was selected based on use across all specials as well as a desire to include a variety of words that varied in levels of severity. The collection may change over time due to new comedy specials being added. In addition, the ordering of the words based on severity is not intended to be an absolute ranking. Your personal preferences may rank the collection differently, but the current order hopefully provides a relative placing of the words that gives a sense of differences between comedy specials in terms of swearing.

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