WiSe 17/18: Comically Challenged - Political (In)Correctness and Stand Up Comedy as Cultural Practice
Talel Ben Jemia
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand”, said Mark Twain. In this seminar, we will have a closer look at one of the most pervasive offenders in American popular culture: the standup ... Lesen Sie weiter
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand”, said Mark Twain. In this seminar, we will have a closer look at one of the most pervasive offenders in American popular culture: the standup comedian. The history of standup comedy can, in fact, be traced as far back as to the humorist monologues of Mark Twain. In the second half of the twentieth century the field experienced a surge of popularity and professionalization. From the live experience at the comedy club to today’s Netflix specials, standup has permeated various media, particularly television: Sitcoms, late night talk shows and sketch comedies like Saturday Night Live would not be conceivable without the ascendance of comedians on stages across America, post WWII.
This seminar will investigate different intellectual approaches to the cultural practice of standup comedy. We will delve into humor and performance theory and explore conceptualizations of standup comedy as cultural anthropology and/or folklore. Further we will dissect diverse categories such as ethnic humor, observational and insult comedy, political comedy (and its frequent circumvention of political correctness) and functions and challenges of comedy in the current cultural and political climate. Looking at the history of the comic style of standup, we will look at various comedians and different formats they have appeared in: live sets, comedy specials, sitcoms, movies, comedy records and Twitter. The seminar will conclude with a symposium during which students are encouraged to engage the topics of our seminar from various creative angles. (No, you won’t be forced to perform a comic routine). Schließen