American Stand-up and Sketch Comedy: Between Race and Gender. The Works of Dave Chappelle and Margaret Cho

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University of Alberta (Canada), 2007 - Stand-up comedy - 86 pages
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Stand-up and sketch comedy are live forms of entertainment that have been popularized in America through media. Analyzing the performance strategies of comedians Dave Chappelle and Margaret Cho, this thesis investigates how these artists construct abject performance identities in order to gain a mainstream or constituency audience and use irony and parody to create social commentary on race, gender and sexual stereotyping. According to John Limon's theory of the abject in stand-up comedy, the comic performer simultaneously owns and rejects the abject aspects of his/her identity. Is the result then a kind of blackface performance for the benefit of the mainstream, or is the proud performance of one's abjection empowering? This paper explores this issue by analyzing performance strategies, the status of parody in the postmodern condition, and the economics of the cultural industry, including the role of the spectator in the construction of meaning.

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