Comedy is an art form that tends to defy definition, a fact that can be easily demonstrated by asking any comedian to offer their personal analysis of how the many forms of comedy can be described, justified and categorized. When this question is posed to comedians, it is almost a guarantee that no answer will be the same and it is a certainty that the responses will vary wildly as to what is and what is not comedy. While it is quite unlikely that any agreement can be reached on a specific definition, it is equally likely that every comedian will agree on two things: that comedy is an art form on a level commensurate to any other creative art form, and that imagery is an essential part of that art form.
Just as many comedians will have differing views on how to define comedy, so too will they offer differing perspectives on how to define imagery. While the definitions will differ, they will not vary in the same way as the many definitions of comedy. Instead, imagery is often defined by comedians in one of two ways: as a part of a descriptive narrative or as an actual visual representation that is either central or supplemental to the comedy. However imagery is used in comedy, just about every comedian will recognize the impact of effective imagery on the audience and how poorly developed imagery can destroy a routine that is solid in every other sense.
Images are coming to your mind even as you are reading this, and clear, descriptive imagery will help you better understand the information being presented. For example, a simple phrase such as bus repair Goodyear AZ will evoke a general image in your mind, but more details are needed to truly round out that image and ensure that everyone who reads this will see the same imagery. This is a vital element in comedy for setting up a punch line, as the use of vague imagery leading up to a punch line will cause the audience to have a very different experience. When performing in any comedic medium, the goal is for the audience to have a fairly similar emotional reaction, although that reaction certainly does not always have to be roars of laughter.
When writing comedic material, especially for a standup act, the narrative imagery used is of particular importance whether it is for a five-minute set or a 60-minute set. Clear and memorable imagery will ensure that you are able to make effective use of callbacks to earlier jokes and will ensure that each punch line is met with hearty, audience-wide laughter instead of a smattering of laughter accompanied by confused facial expressions. Some comedians use narrative imagery to be especially graphic in order to yield a reaction out of the audience, with a fair amount doing so while delivering the material in a monotone that sharply contrasts the imagery being used in a unique and often hilarious way.
The other form of imagery commonly found in comedy is the use of actual visual representations. Prop comedians supplement their written material with these visuals, and many visual mediums like television and film take full advantage of the imagery they can create. There are even comedians who will use the arts for the purpose of comedy, combining lowbrow humor with highbrow works of art to great comedic effect. This is especially effective when the comedian happens to be a talented artist capable of producing traditional works of art, as the juxtaposition between the two forms often allows for some interesting commentary while also being a delightful and laugh-inducing image.