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Title: Definitions of the humorous in Chris Rock and Russell Peters fan blogs: A discussion of the problem of incongruity
Authors: Weaver, S
Keywords: Pierre Bourdieu;Comedy;Habitus;Humour;Incongruity theories;Problem of incongruity;Russell Peters;Chris Rock
Issue Date: 2011
Citation: Participations: journal of audience and reception studies, 2011, 8 (2), pp. 257 - 275
Abstract: There is an old and unsolved problem in the philosophy of humour that examines the conditions under which some incongruities are deemed funny and some are not. Often described as ‘the problem of incongruity’, it can be seen to encompass, in part, the questions of how comedy tastes are developed, how a comedy audience is formed, and how and to what extent humorousness is agreed upon by an audience. Using on-line fan and ‘journalistic’ commentary and blogs on the comedians Russell Peters and Chris Rock, this article seeks an answer to the problem of incongruity. It investigates the styles through which fans construct descriptions of funniness, and acceptable, unacceptable or offensive joking. By analysing examples, and by using Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the ‘habitus’, a theoretical model is proposed that suggests that types of incongruity that are deemed funny usually ‘stretch’ but do not ‘break’ habitus boundaries, beliefs and constitutive discourse. This process is not just an experiential moment during the comedy performance but an active discursive task both before and after the performance. The argument is offered as a theoretical attempt to answer the problem of incongruity that is elaborated through examples of commentary, rather than as a comprehensive and representative analysis of these fan groups and their discussions, which would be the task of a much larger study.
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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