Comedy & Culture in New York City

flierIn April 2014, the now defunct @ColbertReport account (run by Comedy Central) tweeted, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” The tweet stemmed from a segment of The Colbert Report during which the host, comedian Stephen Colbert, critiqued Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for refusing to change the name of his NFL team, despite outrage from indigenous communities, instead opting to develop the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation “to address the challenges that plague the Native American community.” In response to the tweet, Asian American activist Suey Park devised #CancelColbert to “critique white liberals who use forms of racial humor to mock more blatant forms of racism.” In support of Park, Dr. Brittney Cooper claims, “We never get to tell the harmed group what the proper response to racial injury should be for them.” Conversely, the staff at the Indian Country Today Media Network argued that Park’s tweets “drowned out the Native voice.” This, however, is just one example of the debates that ensue regarding the implications of comedy, especially when it is entrenched in discourses about race, gender, sexuality, and other social, cultural, and political markers. This course (FG206/FM205/RM200 Comedy & Culture in New York City), then, will provide a space for students to participate in conversations that are concerned with comedy, including stand-up, situation comedies, film, and other forms, as a contentious and contradictory space with resistive, generative, and problematic qualities.

By the end of this course, students will learn the importance of the following objectives, as well as the skills required to perform them, at a novice level:

  • examining/analyzing and responding to Critical Comedy Studies theoretical perspectives, politics, and methodologies;
  • examining/analyzing the ways in which comedy has the potential produce normative assumptions about identities and subjectivities, including gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and other social markers;
  • examining/analyzing how power and privilege shape experiences with, as well as presumptions and viewpoints about, comedy—especially regarding how communities and individuals understand and resist, reject, or reproduce norms within and in response to comedy;
  • and employing Critical Comedy Studies theoretical perspectives, politics, and methodologies in coursework.

If you are interested in learning more about and/or enrolling in the course, please click here.

NOTE: The student-created projects on this site do NOT represent research findings and/or generalizable knowledge. Rather, these projects represent these students’ pursuit of knowledge.

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