Working to Laugh

Working to Laugh : Assembling Difference in American Stand-Up Comedy Venues

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For decades, stand-up comedy has been central to the imbrication of popular culture and political discourse, reshaping the margins of political critique, and often within the contexts of urban nightlife entertainment. In Working to Laugh: Assembling Difference in American Stand-Up Comedy Venues, James M. Thomas (JT) provides an ethnographic analysis of urban nightlife sites where this popular form of entertainment occurs. Examining the relationship between the performance, the venue, and the social actors who participate in these scenes, JT demonstrates how stand-up venues function as both enablers and constrainers of social difference, including race, class, gender, and heteronormativity, within the larger urban nightlife environment. JT's analysis of a professional comedy club and a sub-cultural bar that hosts a weekly comedy show illuminates the full range of stand-up comedy in the American cultural milieu, from the highly organized, routinized, and predictable format of the professional venue, to the more unpredictable, and in some cases, cutting edge format of the amateur more

Product details

  • Hardback | 182 pages
  • 159.51 x 236.47 x 18.54mm | 408.23g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739189557
  • 9780739189559
  • 2,152,832

Review quote

The author uses a grounded theoretical approach...The book fills a needed gap in the literature. Symbolic Interaction Paraphrasing E.B.White, writing about humor is one of the easiest ways to kill it. Fortunately, Thomas is able to keep it alive by showing how humor remains a key site for political discourses of discontent. The places where comedy happens prove to be important mediums for delivering and receiving critical commentary about the multiple social worlds we move in, through, and around. And such commentary-along with laughter-may be the best medicine for some of the most persistent social ills of urban life. -- Michael Borer, University of Nevada, Las Vegas James Thomas has an incredible eye for ethnographic detail. He manages to move deftly between vignettes and theory, offering vivid examples of what might otherwise be inaccessible concepts. Thomas' analysis of race, power, and comedy moves the Sociology of culture in exciting new directions. -- William Ryan Force, Western New England Universityshow more

About James M. Thomas

James M. Thomas is assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of more

Table of contents

Table of Contents Acknowledgments Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Into the Field: The Comedy Kitchen and Helter Skelter Chapter 3: Affective Labor and The Comedy Kitchen Chapter 4: Affective Labor and Helter Skelter Chapter 5: Assembling Order in Stand-Up Comedy Chapter 6: Stand-Up Comedy, Urban Nightlife, and Affective-Cultural Assemblages Chapter 7: Coda - Soleil Chapter 8: Conclusion Appendix A: Methodology Bibliographyshow more

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