The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader

Edited By

Ian Wilkie

ISBN 9780367175948
Published October 16, 2019 by Routledge
442 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader is a selection of the most outstanding critical analysis featured in the journal Comedy Studies in the decade since its inception in 2010.

The Reader illustrates the multiple perspectives that are available when analysing comedy. Wilkie’s selections present an array of critical approaches from interdisciplinary scholars, all of whom evaluate comedy from different angles and adopt a range of writing styles to explore the phenomenon. Divided into eight unique parts, the Reader offers both breadth and depth with its wide range of interdisciplinary articles and international perspectives.

Of interest to students, scholars, and lovers of comedy alike, The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader offers a contemporary sample of general analyses of comedy as a mode, form, and genre.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ian Wilkie


Part I: Back to Basics: What is Comedy and Where Does It Come From?

1. Against Comedy Chris Ritchie

2. Thoughts on the current state of humour theory Peter Marteinson

3. The origins of comic performance in adult–child interaction Ian Wilkie and Matthew Saxton 

4. The science of baby laughter Caspar Addyman and Ishbel Addyman 

Part II: Old Comedy: Taproots and Tropes 

5.  The time-travelling miser: Translation and transformation in European comedy Rachel Kirk

6. Conflict and slapstick in Commedia dell’Arte – The double act of Pantalone and Arlecchino Louise Peacock

7. Clowns do ethnography: an experiment in long-distance comic failure Barnaby King and Richard Talbot

Part III: Class, Gender, Race: Reading Comedy’s Issues 

8. ‘To what base uses we may return, Horatio!’ – Hamlet, Comedy and Class Struggle Isaac Hui

9. No other excuse: Race, class and gender in British Music Hall comedic performance 1914–1949 David Huxley and David James

10. 'Women Like Us?' Gilli Bush-Bailey

Part IV: Doing Comedy: Giving, Receiving, Causes and Effects

11. Pretty funny: Manifesting a normatively sexy female comic body Hannah Ballou

12. No greater foe? Rethinking emotion and humour, with particular attention to the relationship between audience members and stand-up comedians Tim Miles

13. The roots of alternative comedy? – The alternative story of 20th Century Coyote and Eighties Comedy Lloyd Peters

14. Life memory archive translation performance memory archive life: textual self-documentation in stand-up comedy Christopher Molineux

Part V: New Comedy? Interviews with Practitioners

15. Not the definitive version: an interview with Ross Noble Oliver Double

16. Scenes in the House of Comedy: Interview with Stewart Lee Tony Moon

17. Up and down with Barry Cryer: From an interview conducted on 22 July 2011 Tony Moon

18. Interview with Charlie Hanson Gary Turk

19. ‘Words are my weapons’: Tiffany Stevenson interview Tony Moon

20. Russell Kane: Comic chameleon Sam Friedman

21. Les Dennis: Man out of time Sam Friedman

22. ‘Not a funny place to live’: An interview with Chris Rock Kara Hunt

23. A series of ghastly mistakes that turned out right in the end Tony Moon interview with John Lloyd (comedy producer)

24. Interview with Kate Fox - stand-up poet Ian Wilkie 

Part VI: Critical Angles: Essays on a Joan Rivers’ Routine

25. From toothpick legs to dropping vaginas: Gender and sexuality in Joan Rivers’ stand-up comedy performance Sharon Lockyer

26. Joan Rivers – Reading the meaning Louise Peacock

27. ‘A pleasure working with you’: Humour theory and Joan Rivers Brett Mills

Part VII: The World of Comedy: Culture and Satire

28. Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy Debra Aarons and Marc Mierowsky

29. Satire in a multi-cultural world: a Bakhtinian analysis Grant Julin

30. Silly meets serious: discursive integration and the Stewart/Colbert era Amanda Martin, Brbara K. Kaye and Mark D. Harmon

31. The comedian, the cat, and the activist: the politics of light seriousness and the (un)serious work of contemporary laughter Ian Reilly

32. Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen, and the seriousness of (mock) documentary Cate Blouke

Part VIII: New Comedy? Emerging Platforms and Forms of Expression 

33. A book and a movie walk into a bar Kyle Meikle

34. Kidding around: children, comedy, and social media Peter Kunze

35. A new economy of jokes?: #Socialmedia #Comedy Rebecca Krefting and Rebecca Baruc

36. Comedy meets media: how three new media features have influenced changes in the production of stand-up comedy Jillian M. Belanger

37.  The animated moving image as political cartoon Lucien Leon

38. Is vlogging the new stand-up? A compare/contrast of traditional and online models of comedic content distribution Matthew McKeague


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Ian Wilkie is a Lecturer in Performance at the University of Salford, specialising in the Comedy Writing and Performance degree. His PhD is in Comedy and he is the author of Performing in Comedy: A Student’s Guide. Wilkie has been articles editor of Comedy Studies since 2013 (becoming main editor in 2015), and occasionally works as a comic actor.


Praise for A Comedy Studies Reader, ed. Ian Wilkie

An important resource for those bent on taking comedy seriously, this collection gathers disparate studies from the innovative Journal of Comedy Studies and elsewhere to illuminate contemporary performative comedy. It should prove invaluable for students in Comedy Studies and also remind many in Humour Studies about the importance of the relationship between a piece of humour and its mediator, whether professional or or amateur, as a creator of amusement and laughter.

Jessica Milner Davis FRSN, University of Sydney