1st Edition

Look Who's Laughing Gender and Comedy

By Gail Finney Copyright 1994

    First Published in 1994. Look Who's Laughing belies the notion that in a joke the only place for a woman is in the butt, Rather than analysing women's humor in isolation, Gail Finney and twenty scholars map the terrain that the genders share and the areas that each hold exclusively. Their essays investigate witty heroines, sexual parodies, domestic humor and romantic power. They focus on comic drama and fiction, stand-up comedy, cartoons, and film describing the roles gender has played in the creation, reception and interpretation of comedy from the sixteenth century to present. They consider works by Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Zora Neale Hurston and Virginia Woolf, whilst discussing characters such as V.I. Warshawski, Molly Bloom and Elizabeth Bennet. The book's emphasis on comedy's diverse sources uncovers critical prejudices and defines new contexts enabling men and women to understand more about each other's attitudes towards humor, its means and ends.

    Chapter 1 Unity in Difference?: An Introduction, Gail Finney; Part I Drama; Chapter 2 “That’s How It Is”: Comic Travesties of Sex and Gender in Early Sixteenth-Century Venice, Eric A. Nicholson; Chapter 3 Imagining Consummation: Women’s Erotic Language in Comedies of Dekker and Shakespeare, Mary Bly; Chapter 4 Dwindling into Wifehood: The Romantic Power of the Witty Heroine in Shakespeare, Dryden, Congreve, and Austen, Donald A. Bloom; Chapter 5 Confinement Sharpens the Invention: Aphra Behn’s The Rover and Susanna Centlivre’s The Busie Body, Suz-Anne Kinney; Chapter 6 Masquerade, Modesty, and Comedy in Hannah Cowley’s The Belle’s Strategem, Erin Isikoff; Chapter 7 The Sphinx Goes Wild(e): Ada Leverson, Oscar Wilde, and the Gender Equipollence of Parody, Corinna Sundararajan Rohse; Part II Fiction; Chapter 8 When Women Laugh Wildly and (Gentle)Men Roar: Victorian Embodiments Of Laughter, Karen C. Gindele; Chapter 9 The Feminine Laughter of No Return: James Joyce and Dorothy Richardson, Kristin Bluemel; Chapter 10 Courtship, Comedy, and African-American Expressive Culture in Zora Neale Hurston’s Fiction, Barbara Monroe; Chapter 11 Feminism/Gender/Comedy: Meredith, Woolf, and the Reconfiguration of Comic Distance, David McWhirter; Chapter 12 “Between the Gaps”: Sex, Class and Anarchy in the British Comic Novel of World War II, Phyllis Lassner; Chapter 13 Alice Childress’s Like One of the Family: Domestic and Undomesticated Domestic Humor, Zita Z. Dresner; Chapter 14 Funny, Isn’t It?: Testing the Boundaries of Gender and Genre in Women’s Detective Fiction, Gloria A. Biamonte; Part III Film, Stand-Up Comedy, and Cartoon Art; Chapter 15 Hollywood, 1934: “Inventing” Romantic Comedy, Kay Young; Chapter 16 Mae West Was Not a Man: Sexual Parody and Genre in the Plays and Films of Mae West, Andrea J. Ivanov; Chapter 17 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Sexism or Emancipation from Machismo?, Florence Redding Jessup; Chapter 18 Between the Laughter: Bridging Feminist Studies through Women’s Stand-Up Comedy, Allison Fraiberg; Chapter 19 Comic Strip-Tease: A Revealing Look at Women Cartoon Artists, Jaye Berman Montresor;


    Gail Finney University of California, Davis

    "So-how often does a book of `lit crit' make you giggle, snicker, snort, titter, and chuckle, while admiring its sagacity and perspicacity? BLook Who's Laughing/B has jokes, wisdom, wit, stand-up comedy, anarchy, Roseanne, and Mae West. Who could ask for anything more?"