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‘It’s not the jokes : it’s what lies behind ‘em’ : towards a phenomenological, performance-based methodology for analysing live stand-up comedy.

Miles, Timothy (2018) ‘It’s not the jokes : it’s what lies behind ‘em’ : towards a phenomenological, performance-based methodology for analysing live stand-up comedy. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

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This thesis is an investigation into live stand-up comedy performance, producing a phenomenological methodology for its examination. The introduction starts with a justification for the project, detailing the development of stand-up comedy, in recent years, both as a research area and as a taught undergraduate subject, mainly in the Performing Arts, comparing this with the limitations of extant literature. Specifically, it is argued, that current literature often identifies performance as being important to stand-up comedy yet has serious limitations, and omission, these being critical, theoretical and methodological. The research goal of this thesis is to address these problems, and provide a coherent methodology for analysing live stand-up comedy. It is argued that phenomenology provides a key to such a methodology, with its focus on inter-subjectivity, the body, and other areas, that are crucial to understanding the performance of live stand-up comedy. The phenomenological method values human experience, and the subjective personal narrative. Accordingly Chapter One examines over 200 interviews, and questionnaire responses from stand-up comedians and stand-up comedy audience members. It is shown that the experiences that are described overwhelmingly focus on issues relating to performance. Chapter Two develops a basic model of live stand-up comedy based in performance theory. Chapter Three analyses humour and laughter theory, placing the analysis of humour and laughter in phenomenological and performance paradigms. Chapter Four, drawing from the previous three chapters, identifies key concepts that inform, and define, a phenomenology of stand-up comedy performance, offering a methodology for analysing live stand-up comedy, based in post-performance writing and a performance questionnaire. This is then practically employed, and critically reflected upon, with reference to a number of visits to comedy clubs and live stand-up comedy performance. The conclusion assesses the strengths, and weaknesses, of the project, the possibilities for future research, and argues for a need for a multi-disciplinary Humour research centre.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Miles, Timothy
Date : 28 September 2018
Funders : University of Surrey PhD studentship
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID,, David
Depositing User : Timothy Miles
Date Deposited : 11 Oct 2018 07:40
Last Modified : 11 Oct 2018 07:40

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