Paper Title

Stand Up and Laugh!: Feminist Comedians Out the Intersections of Oppression

Location

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

Keywords

intersectionality, comedy, comedians, feminism

Abstract

I often hear the sentiment expressed – on television, in my writing classroom, among other spaces – that women lack a sense of humor or are simply “not funny,” as one of my students noted a few semesters ago. These comments prompted me to think about the role of female stand-up comedians and to then ask: Do comedic performances engender a critique of racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and patriarchy? In short, yes, they do. This essay uses the theoretical frameworks of Media Studies, Feminist and Queer Theory, as well as philosophy to investigate female stand-up comedians. From Moms Mabley to Phyllis Diller to Sarah Silverman, female comedic performances, I argue, foster a space that interrogates the intersections of oppression: race, gender, and sexuality. Informed by this frame, I examine the following comedians: Marina Franklin, Wanda Sykes, Tig Notaro, and Amy Schumer. Their humorous personal anecdotes, as they poke fun at normative behaviors and traditional understandings, embrace a queer feminist political practice of laughter that fosters a triumphant moment of resistance. There is an aesthetic need for this practice of laughter because it promotes critique and disruption, as well as solidarity and inclusivity.

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Apr 2nd, 10:30 AM Apr 2nd, 11:45 AM

Stand Up and Laugh!: Feminist Comedians Out the Intersections of Oppression

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

I often hear the sentiment expressed – on television, in my writing classroom, among other spaces – that women lack a sense of humor or are simply “not funny,” as one of my students noted a few semesters ago. These comments prompted me to think about the role of female stand-up comedians and to then ask: Do comedic performances engender a critique of racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and patriarchy? In short, yes, they do. This essay uses the theoretical frameworks of Media Studies, Feminist and Queer Theory, as well as philosophy to investigate female stand-up comedians. From Moms Mabley to Phyllis Diller to Sarah Silverman, female comedic performances, I argue, foster a space that interrogates the intersections of oppression: race, gender, and sexuality. Informed by this frame, I examine the following comedians: Marina Franklin, Wanda Sykes, Tig Notaro, and Amy Schumer. Their humorous personal anecdotes, as they poke fun at normative behaviors and traditional understandings, embrace a queer feminist political practice of laughter that fosters a triumphant moment of resistance. There is an aesthetic need for this practice of laughter because it promotes critique and disruption, as well as solidarity and inclusivity.