Positives and negatives: reclaiming the female body and self-deprecation in stand-up comedy

Tomsett, Ellie (2018) Positives and negatives: reclaiming the female body and self-deprecation in stand-up comedy. Comedy Studies, 9 (1). pp. 6-18. ISSN 2040-610X

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Drawing on existing research into feminist humour, this paper argues that many of the functions of self-deprecation within comic performance that have been identified and explored in relation to the American context of the late 90s and early 2000s are still evident on the current UK circuit. Self-deprecation in stand-up comedy by women continues to be understood as both positive (as part of the rise of popular feminisms) and negative (as reinforcing patriarchal norms). These contradictory understandings of self- deprecation in stand-up comedy are always inextricably linked to the identities of the audiences for such humour. I argue that instances of negative self-perception in relation to the female body are now more discernible due to the rise of popular and celebrity feminisms. I consider how emergent female stand-up performers may rationalise and understand the role self-deprecation plays within their own routines and discuss the work of stand-up comedian Luisa Omielan as an example of the rejection of self- deprecatory address. I make the argument that self-deprecation cannot function simply as positive or negative in the current UK context, but must always be considered (for both audiences and performers) as challenging and reinforcing restrictive patriarchal attitudes towards women simultaneously.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/2040610X.2018.1437167
Date: 10 February 2018
Subjects: P300 Media studies
W400 Drama
Divisions: REF UoA Output Collections > REF2021 UoA34: Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Media and English > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Ellie Tomsett
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2018 11:42
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 15:37
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6152

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