Stand-up as Interaction.pdf - Stand-up as interaction Performance and Audience in Comedy Venues Jason Rutter University of Saford Institute for Social

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Unformatted text preview: Stand-up as interaction: Performance and Audience in Comedy Venues Jason Rutter University of Saford Institute for Social Research Department of Sociology Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements of Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, September 1997. ABSTRACT This thesis explores stand-up comedy as live performance focusing on the manner in which audience, performer, jokes and venue combine to make a unique interactive experience. It outlines the failure of previous literature in humour research to move beyond simple stimulus models ofjoking and laughter. It argues for a shift in the study of humour towards in situ observation which draws on both conversation analysis and audience research. Through the observation of stand-up interaction the thesis demonstrates that audience laughter is organised in a consistent fashion and that the transition between comedian's talk and audience laughter is socially organised. In turn the thesis examines the openings, middles and closings of standup routines. It demonstrates that despite a considerable variety of performance style, comperes' introductions, the commencement of the comedians' routines themselves and the closing of acts, are organised around a set of common features each with a preferred order. Further, it demonstrates the active role played by the audience as well as the performer in maintaining this ordering. It shows how a feeling of "liveness" is built up out of these sequences as they are constructed specifically for, and respond to, individual audiences. Looking at the central section of stand-up routines this work demonstrates how jokes told by comedians incorporate a series of rhetorical and performance specific techniques which work towards announcing to an audience that a point of completion is approaching and that laughter is the preferred response. It is argued that this serves to minimise the audience's risk in laughing in a group situation and so is beneficial for both performer and audience. A new system for understanding stand-up is presented which pivots on notions of performance, interaction and liveness. You know what your trouble was, Willy? You always took the jokes too seriously. They were just jokes. The Sunshine Bo y s, Neil Simon 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLEOF EXTRACTS ................................................................................ vi TABLEOF FIGURES ................................................................................... xi TABLEOF TABLES .................................................................................... xii CHAPTER1 ................................................................................................... I "This sociologist walks into a bar...": Stand-up and Sociology..........I CHAPTER2 ................................................................................................... 6 HumourTheory: Classics, Jokes And Sociology..................................6 2.1 Classical Theories ............................................................................. 8 2 .1.1 Superiority.....................................................................................g 2 .1.3 Relief...........................................................................................13 2 .1.3 Incongruity ..................................................................................17 2.2 Joke Theory ..................................................................................... 22 2.3 Social Theories ................................................................................ 26 2 .3.1 Maintenance Theories ................................................................28 2 .3.2 Negotiation Theories...................................................................31 2 .3.3 Frame Theories...........................................................................33 2.4 A Transformative Approach to Humour Research ....................... 37 Notes ....................................................................................................... 49 CHAPTER3 ................................................................................................. 53 "You've been a great crowd": Audience Research and Laughter .....53 3.1 The Comedy Audience....................................................................54 3 .1.1 Spatial Variables.........................................................................55 3 .1.2 Group Laughter...........................................................................58 3 .1.3 Recorded Laughter.....................................................................61 3.2 Audience Research and Humour Studies .....................................63 U 3.2.1 Effects Model .63 3.2.2 Encoding/Decoding.....................................................................65 3.2.3 Ethnographic Approaches...........................................................66 3.2.4 Humour Audiences .....................................................................67 3.3 Stand-up In The Venue....................................................................71 Notes.......................................................................................................84 CHAPTER4.................................................................................................87 4.1 Establishing a Methodology...........................................................88 4.2 Importance of Conversation Analysis ...........................................95 4.3 Primary Data ....................................................................................99 4.4 Fieldwork and Access...................................................................102 4.5 Conclusions...................................................................................106 Notes.....................................................................................................107 CHAPTER5...............................................................................................110 Funny, Ha Ha: Laughter as Part of Stand-up Interaction ..................110 5.1 Laughter and Joking .....................................................................111 5.2 Laughter and Stand-up .................................................................115 5.3 Laughter and Turn Taking ............................................................121 5.3.1 Performer to Audience Transitions ...........................................126 5.3.2 Audience to Performer Transitions ...........................................130 5.4 Conclusions...................................................................................139 Notes.....................................................................................................142 CHAPTER6...............................................................................................144 Opening Lines: The Commencing of Stand-up Acts and Their Introductions.........................................................................................144 6.1 Introduction....................................................................................144 6.2 The Structure Of Openings...........................................................145 111 6.3 Compere's Introduction .149 6 .3.1 Contextualisation ......................................................................151 6 .3.2 Framing of Response................................................................154 6 .3.3 Evaluation of Comedian............................................................154 6 .3.4 Request for Action ....................................................................156 6 .3.5 Introduction ...............................................................................158 6 .3.6 Audience Applause...................................................................165 6.4 The Stand-up Opening ..................................................................168 6 .4.1 Greeting of Audience ................................................................169 6 .4.2 Comment on the Setting ...........................................................172 6.4.2.1 Comment on the Audience .............................................................173 6.4.2.2 Reference To The Local Geography Of The Venue .......................177 6.4.2.3 Self-Reflexive Remarks On The Act..............................................180 6.4.2.4 Meta-Comments..............................................................................181 6 .4.3 Request for Audience Action ....................................................184 6 .4.4 Response to Request by Audience...........................................186 6 .4.5 FirstCannedJoke.....................................................................188 6.5 Conclusions ................................................................................... 190 Notes ..................................................................................................... 193 CHAPTER7 ............................................................................................... 196 "It's the way I tell them" - The Rhetoric of Joking ............................. 196 7.1 Introduction .................................................................................... 196 7.2 Common Rhetorical Techniques..................................................199 7.2.1 Contrast ....................................................................................201 7.2.2 List ............................................................................................205 7.2.3 Puzzle-solution..........................................................................211 7.2.4 Headline-punchline ...................................................................217 7.2.5 Position Taking .........................................................................218 7.2.6 Pursuit.......................................................................................221 7.3 Audience Responses .................................................................... 223 'V 7.4 Stand-up Specific Techniques . 227 7.4.1 Re-Incorporations .....................................................................228 7.4.2 Alliteration and Assonance .......................................................231 7.4.3 Intonation..................................................................................234 7.4.4 Adoption of Voices....................................................................236 7.5 Conclusions ................................................................................... 240 Notes ..................................................................................................... 243 CHAPTER8 ............................................................................................... 245 "Thanks for Staring" - Closing of Stand-up Performances .............. 245 8.1 Introduction .................................................................................... 245 8.2 Stand-up Closings and Conversation Closings..........................247 8.3 The Structure of Closings.............................................................251 8.3.1 Pre-closings ..............................................................................252 8.3.2 Audience Laughter....................................................................260 8 .3.3 Comment on Audience .............................................................263 8.3.4 Re-Introduction .........................................................................266 8.3.5 Appreciation..............................................................................268 8.3.6 Exclamatory Closing .................................................................271 8.3.7 Audience Applause...................................................................273 8.3.8 Compere's Outro.......................................................................277 8.4 Conclusions ................................................................................... 279 • NOTES ................................................................................................... 284 Notes ..................................................................................................... 285 CHAPTER9 ............................................................................................... 289 "Hello, I must be going" - Conceptualising Stand-up comedy........ . 289 9.1 Performance................................................................................... 289 9.2 Interaction ...................................................................................... 292 9.3 Liveness ......................................................................................... 295 V NOTES . 297 BIBLIOGRAPHY........................................................................................298 4.PPEfsJDlX I ..............................................................................................320 Noteson Transcription and Notation Used........................................320 LineNumbering ....................................................................................321 TranscriptoinSymbols.........................................................................321 NOTES...................................................................................................327 APPENDIX2..............................................................................................328 Transcripts of Performance Examples Used in Chapter 7 ............... 328 AdrianCook: The Buzz: 22.6.95 .......................................................... 329 BillHicks: Revelations.........................................................................343 APPENDIX3..............................................................................................388 Listof Data............................................................................................388 vi TABLE OF EXTRACTS Extract2-1: Sack's Dirty Joke...................................................................................42 Extract3-1: Adrian Cook (Simplified)......................................................................75 Extract5-1................................................................................................................112 Extract5-2: From Sack's Dirty Joke........................................................................ 112 Extract 5-3................................................................................................................ 113 Extract5-4................................................................................................................114 Extract 5-5: Bill Hicks (Simplified).........................................................................117 Extract 5-6: Eddie Izzard.........................................................................................122 Extract 5-7: Jerry Sadowitz......................................................................................124 Extract5-8................................................................................................................125 Extract5-9: Roger Monkhouse................................................................................127 Extract 5-10: Harry Enfield......................................................................................128 Extract5-11: Chris Hughes......................................................................................128 Extract5-12: Spike Milligan....................................................................................129 Extract 5-13: Harry Enfield......................................................................................130 Extract5-14: Sean Hughes.......................................................................................131 Extract5-15: Harry Enlield......................................................................................131 Extract 5-16: Jo Caulfield........................................................................................133 Extract 5-17: Roger Monkhouse..............................................................................133 Extract 5-18: Ben Elton...........................................................................................134 Extract 5-19: Lucy porter.........................................................................................135 Extract5-20: Hovis Presley.....................................................................................136 Extract 5-21: Martin Bigpig.....................................................................................136 Extract 5-22: Martin Bigpig.....................................................................................137 Extract 5-23: Emo Philips........................................................................................138 Extract6-1: Tony Burgess .......................................................................................146 Extract6-2: Whoopi Goldberg ................................................................................146 Extract6-3.......................................................................................147 Extract6-4: Roger Monkhouse................................................................................150 vii Extract 6-5: Alex Boardman. 151 Extract6-6: Roger Monkhouse................................................................................ 152 Extract6-7: Roger Monkhouse................................................................................ 152 Extract6-8: Alex Boardman.................................................................................... 155 Extract6-9: Alex Boardman.................................................................................... 155 Extract6-10: Tony Burgess ..................................................................................... 155 Extract6-11: Roger Monkhouse.............................................................................. 156 Extract6-12: Johnny Vegas..................................................................................... 156 Extract6-13: Johnny Vegas.....................................................................................157 Extract6-14..............................................................................................................157 Extract 6-15: Roger Monkhouse..............................................................................158 Extract6-16: Roger Monkhouse..............................................................................159 Extract6-17: Johnny Vegas.....................................................................................160 Extract6-18: Johnny Vegas.....................................................................................162 Extract6-19: Johnny Vegas.....................................................................................163 Extract6-20: Johnny Vegas.....................................................................................166 Extract6-21: Adrian Cook.......................................................................................166 Extract6-22..............................................................................................................168 Extract6-23: Johnny Vegas.....................................................................................168 Extract6-24: Whoopi Goldberg ..............................................................................169 Extract 6-25: Tony Burgess .....................................................................................171 Extract6-26: Roger Monkhouse (Simplified) .........................................................173 Extract 6-27: Tony Burgess and Alex Boardman (Simplified)................................174 Extract6-28: Tony Burgess .................................................................
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  • Spring '14
  • English, Comedy, Theories of humor, Roger Monkhouse, Adrian Cook, Tony Burgess

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