"Welcome to the show" : a study of 'framing' of comedy shows in London
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This thesis is based on fieldwork conducted at three different comedy clubs in, and around, London, UK during spring semester 2014. In this thesis, I discuss how humour is inherently social, and that the comical is closely related to the social situation within which it occurs. I defy the view that it is possible to locate the humorous in a social situation through textual analysis, as the humorous needs to be negotiated by the participants involved. I aim to show that even in a laughable setting as the stand-up comedy show, there are several social and socio-spatial factors that must be manipulated and negotiated for the jokes and comic material to function. Stand-up is interactive. The audiences’ willingness to verbally respond and interact with the performer onstage is vital. The performers and people working at the club try to frame the environment as friendly and informal as possible for the audience, and manipulate certain elements within the show to make them feel relaxed and willing to laugh and participate. This manipulation consists of both how they carefully lay out the room as a tight and intimate space, as well as interact informally with the audience to communicate unity and cohesion between everyone in the venue. By positioning myself among the club workers and performers I was able to observe how they carefully craft their performances in front of the audiences and how they interact with them, both before and during the show. In order for the audience to enjoy themselves and laugh, they try to frame the comedy show as an informal and cohesive event free from societal norms. The goal is to reach a mutual understanding of the situation.