Comedy and Critique explores British professional stand-up comedy in the wake of the Alternative Comedy movement of the late twentieth century, seeing it as an extension of the politics of the New Left: standing up for oneself as anti-racist, feminist and open to a queering of self and social institutions.
Daniel Smith demonstrates that the comic sensibility pervading contemporary humour is as much ‘speaking truth to power’ as it is realising one’s position ‘in’ power. The professionalisation of New Left humour offers a challenge to social and cultural critique. Stand-up comedy has made us all sociologists of self, identity and cultural power while also resigning us to a place where a comic sensibility becomes an acknowledgment of the necessity of social change.
Dr. Daniel R. Smith is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Anglia Ruskin University. His research interests are in the sociology of class and culture, identity and popular culture as well as social media and celebrity. Along with Comedy & Critique, he is the author of Elites, Race and Nationhood: The Branded Gentry.
Introduction: The Comedians Comedian;
Comedians, magicians and other weirdos;
The poverty of stand-up comedy: precarious professionalism;
‘Warrior poets, lucky losers’: the rites of the circuit comedian;
Making a room laugh: comic persona and celebrification;
Comedy & Critique;