Chicks aren't funny : an ethnography of female stand-up comedians

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2010-05

Authors

Grimes, Andrea Bradley

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Abstract

Female stand-up comics occupy a permanently liminal space which can be broken down into three small areas, characterized thusly: the interpersonal, the sexual and the professional spheres. Issues of power, footing and the carnivalesque are threaded throughout these three spaces, and I use the work of Michel Foucault, Mikhail Bakhtin and Erving Goffman to examine the ways in which the female comics I talked, lived and performed with over a two-year period negotiate this permanent liminality to both their advantage and their detriment. The three liminal spaces overlap and intersect, with female comics occupying at times two, and sometimes all three, at any given moment, in a constantly forming and re-forming state of “otherness” that separates them from the default male comic body. In locating female comedians in a permanent liminality, I illustrate the structures at play that are demonstrative not only of the comic experience, but of larger issues surrounding gender in contemporary society.

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