Rhetoric in Stand-up Comedy

Published as: Rutter, J., 2001. “Rhetoric in Stand-up Comedy: Exploring Performer-Audience Interaction”, Stylistyka, X, pp.307-325.

Abstract

Two recurrent traits in contemporary research of humour and joke telling are an emphasis on the structure of joke texts and a lack of in situ investigation into audience laughter. This paper offers a different approach by exploring the introduction of stand-up performers by comperes in comedy venues. Taking this neglected, but omnipresent, aspect of stand-up performance it argues that the introduction sequence plays an important role in framing a series of individual comedy sets into a single performance. It suggests that through encouraging audience involvement and interaction the introduction sequence provides a foundation onto which the comedy that follows is built. Further, the paper argues that these introduction sequences take a form which is common from compere to compere and venue to venue. Through the analysis of performance transcripts it is demonstrated that compere introduction sequences are built around a series of six turns which have a preferred organisation that is recognised both by performers and audiences. This structure is presented in both a rule-based and diagrammatic manner.

Keywords

Stand-up comedy; Humour research; Introduction sequence; Interaction; Comperes; Audience research

Rhetoric in Stand-up Comedy: Exploring Performer-Audience Interaction

Rutter, J., 2001. “Rhetoric in Stand-up Comedy: Exploring Performer-Audience Interaction”, Stylistyka, X, pp.307-325.

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