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The Stand-up Auteur

Sayad, Cecilia (2013) The Stand-up Auteur. In: A Companion to Woody Allen. WBCF - Wiley-Blackwell Companions to Film Directors . Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4443-3723-5. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:31467)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


The presence of autobiographical elements in Woody Allen’s films has often inspired analogies between his screen and real personas. Further emphasizing this connection are Allen’s references to his religious, ethnic and cultural identities. It follows that, in spite of the “postmodern” dimension of the director’s citational practices, his auteur image is charged with the original sense of the term, where the author’s genius and personal experiences prevail over the sociopolitical, economic and cultural contexts that inform the making of his films.

What I explore in this essay is precisely the ways in which Allen’s characters constitute vehicles for sociocultural commentary. This sociocultural dimension, I propose, attaches an element of historical specificity to the presumably “universal” auteur. I argue that the mode of standup comedy that shapes many of Allen’s appearances allows for a self-reflexive meditation about both the director’s own image and the impact of auteurism on American cinema after the 1960s. Indeed, many of Allen’s characters embody the conflict between artistry and commercialism that has marked the controversy on the question of film authorship in the United States; a conflict detected in trends in cult and camp criticism, thus prior to the famous debate between Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris, as Greg Taylor discusses in Artists in the Audience. Furthermore, current affairs often constitute the very material of standup comics’ jokes, bringing to the films a sense of an immediate connection with the extrafilmic. While certainly reinforcing the autobiographical components of the parts played by the director, this connection with the outside world also extends to the realm of film theory and criticism, turning the auteur into an articulator of debates that were central to the reinvention of an American cinema deeply impacted by the consolidation of the European art film.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Auteur, authorship, stand-up comedy, topicality
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Cecilia Sayad
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2012 16:32 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Sayad, Cecilia:
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