Laughter’s Entanglement: Value struggles, liminality and affect in live comedy consumption and production

Carter, Adam. 2019. Laughter’s Entanglement: Value struggles, liminality and affect in live comedy consumption and production. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the ways in which laughter is entangled with cultural valuation processes in live stand-up comedy. This is explored through a combination of video observations of three live stand-up spaces in London, narrative interviews with comedians and focus group discussions with audience members. This thesis is concerned with how the practice of laughter relates to the social reproduction of cultural value, and how ‘value struggles’ are experienced, reproduced, and potentially challenged, through the production and consumption of stand-up comedy. Valuations and identifications based on class, gender and ethnicity are shown to be influential in the experience and understanding of laughter and stand-up comedy. This thesis analyses the mechanisms by which the cultural reproduction of value is maintained, through the lived experience of stand-up comedy and the discursive resources drawn upon by participants to understand their place in the field of comedy. Evidence is presented on how the collective laughter of groups can challenge, but not necessarily overturn, valuations; how laughter establishes affective territories that limit and impact who can laugh or what is found laughable; how readings of audience laughter by comedians, and the different valuations placed on different people’s laughter, influences the creative process of comedians; and how the ritualistic, intensely affective and liminal character of the live stand-up space ensures these experiences matter deeply and become socially influential. This thesis contends that laughter does have the affective potential to disrupt the reproduction of power relations, and that stand-up comedy could be an arena where alternative valuations might flourish, but that its current entanglement renders it relatively impotent.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Keywords:

Affect, value, values, gender, social class, laughter, stand-up comedy, humour.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Date:

30 June 2019

Item ID:

26666

Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2019 14:46

Last Modified:

01 Jul 2021 14:04

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26666

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