Throughout history, comedians and clowns have enjoyed a certain freedom to speak frankly often denied to others in hegemonic systems. More recently, professional comedians have developed platforms of comic license from which to critique the traditional political establishment and have managed to play an important role in interrogating and mediating the processes of politics in contemporary society.
This collection will examine the questions that arise when of comedy and critique intersect by bringing together both critical theorists and comedy scholars with a view to exploring the nature of comedy, its potential role in critical theory and the forms it can take as a practice of resistance.
Introduction: Setting the Agenda, Krista Bonello Rutter Giappone, Fred Francis and Iain MacKenzie / PART I: COMEDY, CRITIQUE AND RESISTANCE / Diagrams of Comic Estrangement, James Williams / ‘Against the Assault of Laughter’: Differentiating Critical and Resistant Humour, Nicholas Holm / Can We Learn the Truth from Lenny Bruce? A Careful Cognitivism about Satire, Dieter Declercq / Laughter, Liturgy, Lacan and Resistance to Capitalist Logic, Francis Stewart / Humitas: Humour as Performative Resistance, Kate Fox / PART II: LAUGHTER AS RESISTANCE? / Conformist Comedians: Political Humour in the Eighteenth-Century Dutch Republic, Ivo Nieuwenhuis / First World War Cartoon Comedy as Criticism of British Politics and Society, Pip Gregory / A Suspended Pratfall: Mimesis and Slapstick in Contemporary Art, Levi Hanes / ‘Life’ in Struggle: The Indifferent Humour of Beckett’s Prose Heroes, Selvin Yaltir / ‘Holiday in Cambodia’: Punk’s Acerbic Comedy, Russ Bestley / ‘What Can’t Be Cured Must Be Endured’: The Postcolonial Humour of Salman Rushdie, Sami Shah and Hari Kondabolu, Christine Caruana / Political Jester: From Fool to King 201, Constantino Pereira Martins / Three Easy Steps to a New You? Or, Some Thoughts on the Politics of Humour in the Workplace . . ., Adrian Hickey, Giuliana Monteverde and Robert Porter
This fascinating book draws on current and recent critical theories to frame and contextualise individual chapters on - amongst others - satire, stand-up, cartoons, slapstick and the visual arts. The theories are clearly explained, often emphasising the playful uses of humour and comedy as a critical tool. Reading it has opened up new avenues in my own thinking about comedy.
This rich, varied collection opens up new ways of thinking about the critical force of humour. Situated at a surprising place where theory and philosophy, politics and comedy, critique and resistance all meet, it combines sophisticated conceptual reflections with insightful case-studies drawn from stand-up, cartoons, performance art, literature and more. Fascinating, intriguing, and amusing it sets an agenda for activist theorists and practitioners across the disciplines.
Krista Bonello Rutter Giappone is the Associate Lecturer in English and Drama, University of Kent,
University of Malta.
Fred Francis is an Assistant Lecturer in English at the University of Kent.
Iain MackKenzie is the Co-Director Centre for Critical Thought and Senior Lecturer in Politics at the
University of Kent.