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Why are they laughing? : the re-formulation of identity in Canadian stand-up comedy

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Why are they laughing? : the re-formulation of identity in Canadian stand-up comedy

Woodrow, Anna (2001) Why are they laughing? : the re-formulation of identity in Canadian stand-up comedy. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis is an ethnographic account of the world of Canadian stand-up comedy which explores the conflict and congruence between shifting identities, divided loyalties, private and public selves. Comedy is seen as a dance between the performers and audience members, symbolizing the everyday communicative experience of identity transmission. These identities are cultural, political, spatial and reflect popular values, beliefs, and shared knowledge. The process of this dance is both inclusive and exclusive--inclusive of those who share the dominant value system and exclusive of those at the margins who are not recognized as a part of the whole. Those who laugh, belong; laughter measures inclusion and exclusion. The sense of belonging resulting from inclusion and is linked to the metaphor of 'home' which ties into the cultural, social and geographical elements of a politicised identity. Paul Ricoeur's three levels of mimesis are used to explain identity formation of self and other. The research uncovers the love/hate duality of performance and mirrors the individual's need to be both who one is and whom others expect one to be . The comedic experience exposes the constant societal negotiation for control and the exchange of power. In the title 'Why are they laughing' they refers to both the performer(s) and the individual audience members which participate in comedy. Some laugh because comedy offers the opportunity to reinvent and express oneself. However, not all laughter is joyful, and not everyone is laughing.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Woodrow, Anna
Pagination:vii, 255 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2001
Thesis Supervisor(s):Jackson, John D
ID Code:1426
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:19
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:20
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