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Conditions for an Anti-Oppression Joke (via Bitch)
May 15, 2010, 1:37 am
Filed under: comedy | Tags: , , , , , ,

Rachel McCarthy James (RJM) over at the Bitch blog TelevIsm has a great post up on how comedy can expose and work against oppression. Here’s a brief cut from her introduction:

Conditions for an Anti-Oppression Joke

IF a character on a television reflects or reinforces the kyriarchy through problematic/loaded language or actions.

AND the action/language is critiqued or rebutted by another character

AND said rebuttal/critique is framed as reasonable and valid

THEN the joke constitutes critique of kyriarchy in society.

These are, of course, not the only kind of jokes that can be critical of the kyriarchy. This applies to jokes on shows like The Office that are not rhetorically anti-oppression the way that shows like, say, Treme or The Boondocks are.

She then moves to an analysis of a scene from The Office to demonstrate how this can work. Really nicely broken down and useful criteria for thinking about comedy and oppression. Dig.

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Demetri Martin: Gen X Prince of Stand-Up
February 1, 2010, 1:46 pm
Filed under: comedy | Tags: , , , , , ,

Demetri Martin is unique in the history of stand-up comedy today. He’s like the antithesis of 80s comedian Sam Kinison — that overweight, repulsive, cokehead screamer. Sammy K was a man’s-man stand-up comedian; someone who conveyed with his rage and purple-faced delivery his unhappiness with the world and everyone in it. Ready to have his stomach split open and his guts splash out onto the stage, he made stand-up look like the hard, drug- and alcohol-driven job it truly is.

If Sam Kinison was some kind of 80s Thersites — the foul-mouthed, humanity-hating slave to society — then Demetri Martin is our modern-day Paris: a lover, not a hater, the shiny-eyed, self-effacing dude who plays his guitar softly, making jokes that zing but land softly in a nimbus cloud of post-hippie ethos.

Demetri Martin

His first comedy special, in 2007, features a finale that was more fantasy than wit-cracking crescendo — the comedy coming from the tension created by breaking convention with what comedians do and don’t do. He plays out on his guitar a little tune while a forest setting shows the imaginary space in his mind, what he calls “the place where my jokes come from”: a place where elves romp along side jokes and his mother and grandmother appear.

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