A Comedian and an Activist Walk into a Bar: The Serious Role of Comedy in Social Justice

A Comedian and an Activist Walk into a Bar: The Serious Role of Comedy in Social Justice

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Overview

Comedy is a powerful contemporary source of influence and information. In the still-evolving digital era, the opportunity to consume and share comedy has never been as available. And yet, despite its vast cultural imprint, comedy is a little-understood vehicle for serious public engagement in urgent social justice issues – even though humor offers frames of hope and optimism that can encourage participation in social problems. Moreover, in the midst of a merger of entertainment and news in the contemporary information ecology, and a decline in perceptions of trust in government and traditional media institutions, comedy may be a unique force for change in pressing social justice challenges.

Comedians who say something serious about the world while they make us laugh are capable of mobilizing the masses, focusing a critical lens on injustices, and injecting hope and optimism into seemingly hopeless problems. By combining communication and social justice frameworks with contemporary comedy examples, authors Caty Borum Chattoo and Lauren Feldman show us how comedy can help to serve as a vehicle of change.

Through rich case studies, audience research, and interviews with comedians and social justice leaders and strategists, A Comedian and an Activist Walk Into a Bar: The Serious Role of Comedy in Social Justice explains how comedy – both in the entertainment marketplace and as cultural strategy – can engage audiences with issues such as global poverty, climate change, immigration, and sexual assault, and how activists work with comedy to reach and empower publics in the networked, participatory digital media age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520299764
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 03/24/2020
Series: Communication for Social Justice Activism , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 577,684
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Caty Borum Chattoo is Director of the Center for Media & Social Impact and Assistant Professor at American University’s School of Communication in Washington, DC.

Lauren Feldman is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Norman Lear
Acknowledgments

PART I: COMEDY AMDIST A CONTMEPORARY LANDSCAPE OF INFLUENCE AND INFORMATION

Introduction
1. Why Comedy, and Why Now?
2. How Comedy Works as a Change Agent
3. From Stand-Up to Sitcoms: Socially Critical
Comedy across Genres

PART II: COMEDY IN SOCIAL JUSTICE CHALLENGES

4. Can Laughter Help Save the Planet? Comedy’s Role in
Communicating about Climate Change
5. Beyond Poverty Porn: How Comedy Reframes
Poverty and Engages Publics

PART III: LEVERAGING COMEDY FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

6. Comedians’ Perspectives on the Intersections of
Art and Activism
7. Creative Collaborations: How Comedians and
Social Justice Advocates Work Together
8. Imagining the Future of Comedy’s Role in Social Justice

Appendix A: Methodological Details and Full
Results from Chapter 4

Appendix B: Methodological Overview and Main
Results from Chapter 5

Appendix C: Comedy Professionals Interviewed
for Chapter 6

Notes
About the Authors
Index

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