To speak soundly in the conversation about humor, I should firstly collect enough information from other people so that I can know what the conversation is about. Then, noticing an inspiring topic, I will rearrange the claims from these people and come up with my own idea. From the course conversation so far, I discovered an interesting question: How does humor fight against stereotypes? To formulate my answer to this question, here I invited several guests who have spoken out some arguments.
The first guest that should start is Mary O’Hara. She discusses about humor’s functions presents a lot of comics who believe comedy has social significance, for example, “It’s vital to understand the job comedy can do in actively providing a counterbalance to bigotry and prejudice” (O’Hara 105). Such this sentence sets up the basis for further discussion about humor fighting stereotypes.
The second guest included is Simon Critchley. He addresses humor’s social function in a more theoretical level. He uses the concept “incongruity” to describe comedy as funny because it diverges the story from the audience’s expectation, especially in joking about the powerful groups. He points out “By laughing at power, we expose its contingency, we realize that what appeared to be fixed and oppressive … should be mocked and ridiculed” (Critchley 126). This idea is insightful for comedians to refute stereotypes by implementing humor.
Then comes Zach St. George. He addresses the issue about dominant groups’ stereotypes toward others. He uses women as example to demonstrate why they are considered less funny and how women tell gender jokes by using “charged humor”. “This humor carries a message, meant to change perceptions by knowingly pushing the boundaries of one or more dominant groups” (St. George 139). Though groups such as women have to task risks with humor when they try to lessen stereotypes, the humor itself is still effective to change the situation.
Russell Peters has something to say with small stereotypes: accents. The discrimination in accents is evident in Canadians toward Indians, who speak very “funny”. He disputes this stereotype by simply speaking in an Canadian accent about silly matters. And as the audience break into laughter, he succeeds in eliminating the stereotypical views against Indian accents.
Finally, I want to invite Negin Farsad for she is a comedian experienced about fighting common stereotypes of Muslims. She insists comedy is useful because it sets up recognition between the audience and herself. By breaking the boundaries through laughter, the audience are compelled to listen to her ideas. “Comedy opens people up, and what makes comedy so effective is that if you’re making them laugh along the way, they’re going to listen to the deeper cut stuff” (Farsad 13). She uses humor to empathize with people and convey her friendly messages to them. As a result, the stereotype about Muslims is gone.
“‘Accents.’” YouTube, uploaded by Russell Peters, 1 Nov. 2016,www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4KhEj0ai5E.
Critchley, Simon. “Did You Hear the One About the Philosopher Writing a Book on Humour?”Think, vol. 1, no. 2, Autumn 2002, pp. 103-112, doi.org/10.1017/S147717560000035X.Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 122-131.
Farsad, Negin. “Can Humor Fight Prejudice?” TED Radio Hour from NPR, 24 Mar. 2017,www.npr.org/2017/03/24/520942852/negin-farsad-can-humor-fight-prejudice.
O’Hara, Mary. “A Serious Business: What Can Comedy Do?” Mosaic, 23 Aug. 2016,www.mosaicscience.com/story/comedy-humour-jokes-political-satire-taboo. Rpt. in TheEssential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore,2017, pp. 104-111.St. George, Zach. “Identity is an Inside Joke.” Nautilus, 26 Nov. 2015,www.nautil.us/issue/30/identity/identity-is-an-inside-joke. Rpt. in The Essential Guide toAnalytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 136-141.
I am grateful for my instructor Dr. Gocsik for facilitating me to understand reading materials and come up with better ideas with guest lists. I appreciate my mentor Sarah for giving suggestions for grammar and style. I also thank my groupmates Flory and Shuli for discussing ideas during presentation.