I don’t know when comedians started using the word “riff.” I’m certain that it stems from some stand-up comics’ delusional wish to be seen as the jazz musicians of comedy. Just like some other stand-up comics claim to be the fighter pilots of comedy.
Those are both things I had more than one comedian say to me over the course of my comedy career.
Whenever somebody tells you they’re the “something much cooler” of “whatever it is that they actually are,” it’s indicative of a serious self-esteem problem. Take it from someone who grew up near Yakima, the town that calls itself “The Palm Springs of Washington.”
Hey, by the way, my latest book, Run Program, is out now! It's a book about a rogue AI that has the intelligence of a child. You might think that would make the AI less dangerous, but you'd be wrong. Anyway, I'm quite proud of it. Please check it out, if you have a chance.