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'Play Up the Asianness': A history of East and Southeast Asian stereotypes in Western comedy and how contemporary ESEA stand-up comedians engage with them

Chirapiwat, Natcha (2023) 'Play Up the Asianness': A history of East and Southeast Asian stereotypes in Western comedy and how contemporary ESEA stand-up comedians engage with them. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100838) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:100838)

Language: English

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This thesis aims to analyse how East Asian stand-up comedians address their race to Western audiences, particularly focusing on the use and impact of stereotypes. The first half of the research (chapters 1 to 3) is dedicated to the history of East Asian stereotypes from 1848 (when large-scale immigration from East Asia to the West first occurred) to present day, creating a genealogy of them and the circumstances that led to them. Each chapter culminates in a case study of how contemporary comedy perpetuated and interacted with those stereotypes, and what this can reveal about perceptions of East Asian people at the time. The purpose of these chapters is to understand the implications of these stereotypes without validating or dismissing them.

The second half of the research is split into three case studies: Margaret Cho, Ali Wong, and Phil Wang. These case studies were chosen as they are representative of a range of identities and shifts in popular culture, while also all directly addressing the impact of East Asian stereotypes on their work in varying ways. These case studies draw from performed material, interviews, and writing to provide an in-depth analysis of the ways in which East Asian stand-up comedians navigate and negotiate with public/audience perceptions of their character based on their ethnicity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: May, Shaun
Thesis advisor: Double, Oliver
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100838
Uncontrolled keywords: comedy studies humour esea east southeast asian racial stereotypes history geneology stand-up comedians analysis impact popular culture political alternative performance
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1969.C65 Comedy acts. Stand-up comedy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2023 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2023 10:28 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Chirapiwat, Natcha.

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