Independent Women: The impact of pop divas on stand-up comedy

Tomsett, Ellie and Weidhase, Nathalie (2023) Independent Women: The impact of pop divas on stand-up comedy. In: Diva: Feminism and Fierceness from pop to hip hop. Bloomsbury, London, pp. 262-276. ISBN 9781501368264

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This chapter focuses on the ways in which the cultural fascination with the pop diva can be witnessed within stand-up comedy performed by women. Comedy requires shared understanding upon which to base joking – without awareness of the underpinning cultural or societal concepts being subverted in joking, access to the humorous meaning is impossible. During a period of heightened awareness of popular and celebrity feminisms, and the dominance of neoliberal female empowerment narratives, comedians have been able to draw on more direct intertextual references to the lives and work of pop divas within their routines.

In addition to the way divas influence the content of stand-up comedy by women, it is clear that in many ways solo female pop artists have much in common with their comic contemporaries. Crucially both kinds of performance require a degree of self-objectification. The way divas market their identities and create communities of fans is comparable, yet notably different to that of women comedians. Both roles require performers to embody and manipulate specific identifiable traits for their audiences, but in different ways. Diva status is arguably contingent upon being ‘exceptional’ in some way (there is only one Houston, Franklin, Turner, Carey etc.). Comedians however, rely on their similarities to their audiences, physically and experientially, for their comic material.

This chapter discusses the ways in which divas (most notably, but not exclusively Beyoncé) are evoked within contemporary stand-up performances by women and the gendered and raced dynamics of this inclusion.

Item Type: Book Section
7 September 2023Published
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of English and Media
Depositing User: Ellie Tomsett
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2024 13:32
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2024 03:00

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