Preaching to the Converted? How Political Comedy Matters

Quirk, Sophie (2015) Preaching to the Converted? How Political Comedy Matters. Humor, 29 (2). pp. 243-260. ISSN 0933-1719. E-ISSN 1613-3722. (doi:10.1515/humor-2015-0046)

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Abstract

Practitioners, audiences and critics are often dismissive of political comedy’s impact. It is argued that audiences only attend political performances if they already agree with the performer; further, that audiences will not laugh at ideas that they find too subversive. As laughter depends upon consensus and success depends upon laughter, the comedian “merely” preaches to the converted. This article challenges these assumptions by examining the diverse strategies of two political comedians: Mark Thomas and Stewart Lee. Through analysis of performance, and their methodology and intent as related in practitioner interviews, I demonstrate that the nature of consensus in political comedy is more complex than has generally been supposed. Far from being a sign of comedy’s impuissance, consensus is used as a tool to enhance and develop political engagement. I suggest that in order to discover whether political comedy matters, we must first broaden our understanding of how it matters.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1515/humor-2015-0046
Uncontrolled keywords: Stand-up comedy, Consensus, Impact, Mark Thomas, Stewart Lee
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Drama and Theatre
Depositing User: Sophie Quirk
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2016 16:45 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:42 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/56776 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Quirk, Sophie: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0109-098X

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