Abstract

This study examines the political influence of charged standup comedy as a form of protest in resistance movements against white supremacy. It examines the experiences of seven marginalized comics who confront oppression through this non-traditional and humor based form of protest. Over the course of two months I conducted and filmed eight in-depth, semi-formal interviews with seven comics of color; six women and one trans-non-binary person, as well as an academic who specializes in studying the production of “charged humor.” I attended more than 30 standup shows and filmed several performances. In my analysis I explore four major themes, (1) the revolutionary power of standup examining its properties, which both facilitate and inhibit anti-racist dialectic, (2) the ways in which dissident comedy, like protest, is subject to silencing and the extent to which standup comedy has been weaponized to mobilize white supremacist efforts, (3) the relationship between tragedy and comedy within marginalized communities examining comedy as a survival mechanism and source of community, and (4) the role of resistance comedy in reconsidering identity politics. In conclusion, I argue that there in an important future for charged comedy as a mechanism for resistance to combat white supremacist political organizing, particularly in the Trump era.

Advisor

Craven, Christa

Department

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Disciplines

African American Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

Publication Date

2017

Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 2017 Caren Holmes