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Tragedy Plus Time: Transforming Life Experience into Stand-Up Comedy

Double, Oliver (2017) Tragedy Plus Time: Transforming Life Experience into Stand-Up Comedy. New Theatre Quarterly, 33 (2). pp. 143-155. ISSN 0266-464X. (doi:10.1017/So266464X17000057)

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In this article, Oliver Double examines the process of turning traumatic personal experience into viable stand-up comedy material by offering a detailed account of the creative process behind his 2015 show Break a Leg. Drawing on Bergson, Brecht, and Noël Carroll, he explores the origins of comic ideas in personal observation, and argues for a two-stage process of joke creation. This is fleshed out in a detailed examination of a particular routine, in which he uses Koestler's concept of bisociation to show how an initial observation was shaped into a series of punchlines. He also discusses authenticating strategies which comedians employ to demonstrate that they are recalling their actual experiences, and ways in which the dialogic qualities of stand-up affect empathy and intimacy. Oliver Double is a former professional comedian who is now a Reader in Drama at the University of Kent. He is the author of Stand-Up! On Being a Comedian (1997), Britain Had Talent: a History of Variety Theatre (2012), and Getting the Joke: the Inner Workings of Stand-Up Comedy (2nd edition, 2014). A film of Break a Leg is available on YouTube, and the related podcast Breaking a Leg is accessible via iTunes.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/So266464X17000057
Uncontrolled keywords: Henri Bergson, Bertolt Brecht, Noel Carroll. Arthur Koestler, bisociation.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1969.C65 Comedy Acts
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Drama and Theatre
Depositing User: Oliver Double
Date Deposited: 08 May 2017 10:21 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2019 08:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Double, Oliver:
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