An Addendum to Stand-up Vs. Improv
by Amber Frame
The Oxford comma, and its place in English grammar, is a hotly debated subject amongst nerds. While it’s discounted by AP Stylebooks, literally tens of people across the United States, including me, argue its importance.
For those unfamiliar, this is the comma you include after the second item when writing a list of three (when you care about your reader). For example: Detractors of “the OC” risk confusing, distressing, and angering their reader.
Now let’s look at a sentence written without “the love comma”: This essay is dedicated to my fans, my mom and my cat. One could infer here that my only fans are my mom and my cat; in fact my numerous fans are doctors, lawyers, and other smart important people too busy to attend comedy shows. They, too, support the Oxford comma.
Finally, consider that a notable proponent of “the OxCom” was Victorian scientist and Darwin colleague Herbert Spencer. A vote for the Oxford comma is a vote for science, evolution, and truth.
(Editor’s note: Readers of our first email newsletter, The Laughing Cat [Don’t think we can’t hear you snickering] were treated to Ms. Frame’s [We think NYT syle is only appropriate here] quiz to help readers determine whether they were more like standup comics or more like improvisers. We resisted deleting all of Ms. Frame’s Oxford commas in that piece because we like her and need her talent to perk things up around here. We agree to disagree but we deplore inconsistency in print. Henceforward only Ms. Frame’s Oxford commas are acceptable here. We like our readers looking for jokes in our comma series.
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