Experiencing the concert – kallisti: Queen of the Ether

People are sometimes interested in words that do not have single meaning: Kallisti is a Greek word that has its rich mythical origin imprinted in “the apple of discord”. Ether, for most individuals, represents the endless sky and universe; for organic chemist, it is a group of substance that was named for its anesthetic properties, creating alternative states of consciousness. Out of curiosity, I went to hear the concert, kallisti: Queen of the Ether, to explore how the performers synthesize mystery into their performance. I found out this concert was indeed filled with riddles. Its exclusive use of female singers reshaped my perception of them in the field of singing. Its experimental style also gave me insight into appreciating distinct music forms.

CPMC Concert

This concert took place in Conrad Prebys Concert Hall. The room was filled with irregular firm wood walls, creating unique effect to resonate the sounds. The platform was big enough to contain an orchestra of one hundred people. Near the front row, the platform also spans out to expand our vision, making the concert like a cinema. It is also noteworthy to mention that the comfortable seats were made of dark red color, hardly interfering with my focus on the performance.

One of the most interesting aspect of this concert is its lack of instrumental accompaniment. Except for the percussion that only appeared in third song, other things were merely the female voices. This setting makes the concert like a pure A Capella show. Though a bit disappointed at first, because I myself was fond of songs that have beautiful melodies played by instruments, I was progressively intrigued by the great virtuosity. I realized that the singers’ musical skills were the spotlight of the concert, and instrumentation would only hinder me to appreciate their skills.

Indeed, each performance had its characteristic virtuosity. The first song, Vive faville, seemed to toy with quietness. It featured four sopranos that has their own low-volume weird voices such as wind-blowing, chit-chatting, and pure singing. They often sung by themselves, with occasional unifying harmony and complete silence. The second piece, Sequenza III, was sung by an omnipotent solo singer. Besides her display of unstable emotions, from mummering and sighing to laughing and yelling, she also synchronized actions into her singing, thereby depicting a vivid person who was easily influenced by different events. The third performance, Puksanger/Lockrop, seemed like two country women, standing in both sides of a mountain, having a worldly conversation. There, the male percussionist helps to set up the grand scene. The fourth song, Vishentens lov, sounded like a group of scholars trying to answer philosophical questions. The fifth, Six Songs for Sirens, was set in a more celebratory tone. Afterwards, the encore Do Not Fear the Darkness lightened up the atmosphere, comforting me with the softening lyric, which is its title.

kallisti brochure

The program provided a pamphlet that was helpful for understanding the music. Even if it does not translate all the lyrics into English, I could confidently anticipate how the songs go down. The director of this concert, Susan Narucki, also aided my perception by telling stories. She also acted as the conductor when she was singing, which I thought helped her better direct the group.

From above experience, I learned that female voice, when played along, could go beyond the stereotype, and show many skills that I did not know before. Besides its commonly believed smooth nature, the voice could mimic an object perfectly, change its volume variably, shout out words recklessly, and do something usually done by men. The concert, by showcasing music pieces that can be described as different art forms, also broadened my vision of music. Not all beautiful music requires instrumental accompaniment or at least acoustics. In fact, as can be traced back to Hildegard’s work, only using female voices could be strong enough to vibrate people’s feelings.


Assessment of Group Work

To what degree does switching groupmates at the beginning of AWP 2B benefit the class in general? At this time, I can confidently answer this question. In this term, I participated in a freshly new group consisting of Oscar, Shuli, and me. While I, along with Shuli, was heartbroken for Flory’s departure, I found out that working in the new group still facilitated my growth as a writer, offering me more diverse perspectives about writing and the humor conversation.

Our group worked well in this quarter. As the last quarter’s tradition, we regularly met in Geisel Library to brainstorm our ideas. Because everyone strove for excellence in writing, no one was relaxed during the group meetings; we all shared our thoughts and disclosed each other’s mistakes. We also did our groupwork in a timely manner, providing feedback through discussion board before deadlines. Because we developed good relationships, we groupmates were also willing to help each other. As a result, the revised essays we produced were more outstanding than other groups.

However, some pitfalls were present in our group. Because of our lack of comprehension of English writing convention, we seldom discuss about grammar and style problem, which could have been resolved if we regularly consult reliable sources so that everyone in our group was able to give constructive feedback regarding grammar and style. Also, during group meeting, we were sometimes distracted by things outside of our class. If we focused only on AWP instead of extracurriculars, then our group meeting could be more efficient.

Besides these pitfalls, I contributed to this group a lot. In terms of writing, I took a particularly good stand about critical reading, use of evidence, and ethical citation. Based on my relatively accurate capture of different writers’ ideas, I could correct my groupmates’ pitfalls in demonstrating the reading materials. In addition, I helped them with using these articles as evidence for their arguments. By accurately presenting and using these articles, their essays seemed to be more sounding, too. Although Oscar and Shuli did not have serious citation problems throughout, I still reminded them of ethical citation when reading their papers, suggesting some places where they could cite better, like italicizing TV show and adding parentheses to an episode. Despite writing, I also provided technical supports such as reserving study rooms and drawing the conversation map.


Other groupmates’ contributions are also unneglectable, and they helped me a lot in writing. Shuli is self-aware, often looking for help when she is unsure about her writing. She did not have perfect first strike, but her revision and reflection were thoughtful. She was also observant, being able to raise interesting questions and advance clear and claims. I learned from her that patiently working in weak spots could really pay off, and being vigilant with the conversation could season my papers, further engaging the readers. Oscar might not be very good at writing, but he tried hard to revise his works. Though sometimes having difficulty with the course, he dared to speaks out his voice, bravely asking for our help. Besides his direct request to look at his formal control, I also regularly spotted grammatical issues in his papers. By scrutinizing these grammar and style problems, I could reflect myself to ensure I did not have these mistakes, either.

Additionally, thanks to former groupmate Flory, I further developed my mindset of thinking during this quarter. Indeed, besides working with the current group, I also communicated with her to exchange our ideas. From her paper I saw that she can transfer her complicated thought system into a concise essay that engages me. Other classmates who worked with me or not were also appreciated. They demonstrated their diverse thinking in the subject matter.

Summary of the conversation again

To what degree does political humor change the society? This question sparks an interesting conversation among the course readings. McGraw and Warner stand for the optimistic side. They refute Christie Davies’ claim that jokes only indicate political discontent and may possibly relieve the rebellion. By exemplifying “laughtivism” in which people overturned their leader through mocking at him,  McGraw and Warner asserts that comedy can bring about positive political change. This change is furthered by Anna Louie Sussman, who presents Egyptian uprising to show humor’s immense ability to improve the situation.  She thinks humor “build community, strengthen solidarity, and provide a safe, thug-free outlet for Egyptians to defy the regime” (Sussman 166). In this sense, Sussman argues that comedy breaks people’s fear, and provide them with different perspectives to view the reality . Bassem Youssef  verifies this argument with his career as a comedian . In his comedy show, he turned down Mubarak and Morsi, both presidents disliked by the public. By making people laugh at their hidden flaws, Youssef engaged people in changing the society. When Sisi became the president, Youssef continued making jokes. But since Sisi had people’s support, Youssef’s show was canceled. Still, as Youssef says, “pulling the show off the air is a victory” (Bager 172), he brings beloved leader to his country, and proves that humor can greatly impact the political world.

However, Iain Ellis observes that, though political humor plays a vital role in politics, people should not be too optimistic. He uses a three-way dance to illustrate how politicians, media, and the public interact. Ellis posits that the dance involves comedians spreading the truth to the audiences, thus engages the public in political issues.  But he claims  that politicians, on the other hand, also use “spin” and “obfuscation” to make up their self-images. Indeed, Ellis agrees with McGraw & Warner that humor is important, yet he thinks that it decides the presidential election is not a good sign.

Ramon Lopez flips the argument, discussing Jon Stewart’s negative effect to the society. Although Lopez acknowledges Stewart’s broad influence, he criticizes Stewart for promoting cynicism and using straw men. “Comedic straw men degrade the opposition not only by twisting and misrepresenting their arguments, but also by ridiculing them” (Lopez 159). He illustrates that Stewart always misrepresents opposing ideas, and completely deny them. This absolute denial, as Lopez construes, will make people become cynical about the government without considering its benefit. Still, Lopez encourages Stewart to rethink his presentation by offering John Oliver who is doing political humor correctly.

Stephen Marche consents with Lopez that political humor affects the society negatively, but he adds more nuances into this idea. Marche says that Americans are living in a post-truth generation in which people believe in emotionally appealing information . While the post-truth has become a widespread ailment, Marche points out that humor “turns the news itself into a joke” (Marche 165), making people trust comedians blindly. Marche furthers the blind trust by asserting that humor makes people pleased with ridiculing at others. He posits that,  through “the pleasure of otherings” (Marche 165) , people can only  break things apart, but never build things up.


Works Cited

Bager, Jasmine. “Egypt’s Jon Stewart is Not Done Laughing.” New Republic, 3 Apr. 2017,www.newrepublic.com/article/141572/egypts-jon-stewart-not-done-laughing. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore,2017, pp. 170-172.

Lopez, Ramon. “Why Jon Stewart is Bad for America.” The Federalist, 5 Dec. 2014, http://www.thefederalist.com/2014/12/05/why-jon-stewart-is-bad-for-america/. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 156-162.

Marche, Stephen. “The Left Has a Post-Truth Problem, Too. It’s Called Comedy.” LA Times, 6 Jan. 2017, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-marche-left-fake-news-problem-comedy-20170106-story.html. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 164-165.

Sussman, Anna Louie. “Laugh, O Revolution: Humor in the Egyptian Uprising.” Atlantic, 23 Feb. 2011, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/laugh-o-revolution-humor-in-the-egyptian-uprising/71530/. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 166-169.

Hodgepodge of humor conversation: Lopez, Marche, Ellis and McGraw & Warner

Overall Graphic designer

Lopez argues against Jon Steward to illustrate that political humor creates cynicism and apathy toward government, and comedians such as Steward do not clearly address political issues, but simply making fun of it. Marche, on the other hand, claims that political satire, though popular among social media, is not powerful enough to create desired changes, because it simply entertains the public.

The conversation is about to what extent does political satire change the society. Ellis, the guest of honor, generalizes from the various perspectives about political humor and points out that humor has become an inseparable part of our political life, and whether it has positive and negative effect on the population is worth debating. McGraw & Warner, the defenders for political comedy, posits that comedy is able to deliver the truth and engage people with additional insights. Lopez, in contrast, disagrees with McGraw & Warner by saying that political humor cherry-picks argument to make politicians and news systems appear silly without considering their positive sides. Marche flips the argument, positing that satire can only amuse people, but cannot change their thoughts.

I think comedy can bring positive change toward the politics, because it can address problems that others avoid talking about, and offer the audience different perspectives to view the reality. Besides, the audience are bored of news reports, and they need stimulating political satire to access information. “In representing the interests of the common man, in speaking truth to power, these comic vigilantes provide us with an important – and otherwise absent and/or neglected – political service” (Ellis 155). Comedians, in this way, can engage the audience into contemplating about political issues, and change their perceptions by joking.


Works Cited

Ellis, Iain. “Political Humor and Its Diss Contents.” Pop Matters, 14 Oct. 2012,www.popmatters.com/column/163983-political-humor-and-its-diss-contents/P1/. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 150-155.

Lopez, Ramon. “Why Jon Stewart is Bad for America.” The Federalist, 5 Dec. 2014, http://www.thefederalist.com/2014/12/05/why-jon-stewart-is-bad-for-america/. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 156-162.

Marche, Stephen. “The Left Has a Post-Truth Problem, Too. It’s Called Comedy.” LA Times, 6 Jan. 2017, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-marche-left-fake-news-problem-comedy-20170106-story.html. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 164-165.

McGraw, Peter and Joel Warner. “Entry 6: Can Comedy Bring About Real Political Change?”Slate, 30 Mar. 2014, http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/features/2014/the_humor_code/daily_show_colbert_report_can_political_comedy_affect_real_political_change.html. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 146-148.

Analysis of the conversation in McGraw’s and Ellis’s articles

McGraw Graphic OrganizerEllis Graphic OrganizerPeter McGraw and Joel Warner, in the article The Humor Code, Entry 6: Can Comedy Bring About Real Political Change?, assert that humor, when used strategically, can greatly improve the society by engaging the public to politics. Iain Ellis, on the other hand, claims that political humor is basically an interplay among politicians, media, and the public. The public have gained great power in shaping the politics, and politicians need to play with humor to promote their positive self-images in different media.

I am interested McGraw’s point that humor can effect real political change. I agree with McGraw because he address some key premises for humor to change the society. He uses Popovic, an example which shows political humor works under optimal condition. Popovic’s jokes fit well with McGraw’s benign violation theory, which states that laughter arises when a joke makes something threatening appears funny, thus alleviating the fear of the audience. “People were afraid, and humor was useful in breaking that fear” (McGraw 148). By joking, Popovic embarrasses the president, and weakens his political power. Still, I wonder if satire that occurs in small country turns out to be more effective because it can spread out quickly over the nation. In this case, the counterargument somewhat makes sense in it addresses that joking in USSR is not effective enough to make big political change.

Works Cited

Ellis, Iain. “Political Humor and Its Diss Contents.” Pop Matters, 14 Oct. 2012, http://www.popmatters.com/column/163983-political-humor-and-its-diss-contents/P1/. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 150-155.

McGraw, Peter and Joel Warner.Entry 6: Can Comedy Bring About Real Political Change?” Slate, 30 Mar. 2014, http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/features/2014/the_humor_code/daily_show_colbert_report_can_political_comedy_affect_real_political_change.html. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 146-148.

Self-assessment of my two portfolio essays

In last quarter, I have completed two candidates for my portfolio: Summary & Synthesis essay and Analysis essay. While the Summary & Synthesis talks about in what way humor fight against stereotypes, my Analysis essay evaluates how Aziz Ansari’s comedy criticizes racism and encourage minorities to fight for their rights. The Summary & Synthesis essay demonstrates good grasp about the cited materials, but the Analysis essay fails to do so. Although Analysis paper shows fewer grammar and style mistakes, it should be made stronger if the comedy is better understood, and some evidence is further unpacked. Summary & Synthesis essay, on the other hand, can be polished if I achieve higher understanding of the materials.

Indeed, the Summary and Synthesis essay presents a vivid conversation of different writers based on the controlling idea about how humor upends stereotypes. It has a clear introduction, which helps readers grasping the “talks” among these authors. The evidence used are clearly geared toward the main question, and they respond to each other in an appropriate way. However, the conversation I created does not fully encompass the claims that I should, and the essay lacks some greater context to make the readers feel curious. So, I need to explore more things that give insights into my Summary & Synthesis essay, and even incorporate these things to make the essay more exclusive. Nevertheless, the essay in whole is well organized, and I comply with academic integrity by giving credits to those who contribute to my essay.

Analysis paper keeps demonstrating good organization and ethic citations, and the grammar and style is a bit improved in this essay. Unfortunately, several major misunderstandings about the comedy puts down the quality. Though I illustrate decent conception about humor theories in my Summary & Synthesis essay, this conception is waned during my writing of Analysis paper. Also, the introduction has zigzag arguments that leave readers puzzled, partly because I barely have background knowledge about the materials. To avoid these pitfalls, I need to come back to the reading materials and get a better sense of their main ideas. Watching some real-life comedy shows is also helpful for understanding how comedians make their arguments.

In this winter break, I have revised the two essays to some degree. While for Summary & Synthesis paper, I focused on fixing language mistakes, I deepened my understanding of the sources cited in my Analysis essay: I came to know that Chris Brown has both good and bad sides, and some people ignore his flows and still enjoy his music. Ansari does not praise George Bush. Instead, he criticizes that president is incompetent in changing the society… These examples warn me that I should first understand the sources before citing them. Besides, in this term, I look forward to learning more backgrounds and arguments about humor. Should I feel confident about these, I can work hard on polishing my portfolio essays to make them exceptional in terms of language and organization.


Reflection of group work

In this term, my group members Flory and Shuli collaborate well to accomplish tasks. They also help me to become a better writer because they can, as readers of my essays, discover the mistakes that I often neglect. I am still impressed by the many times we met in the group study room in Geisel Library to brainstorm ideas and craft our group works. Among the group works, drawing the conversation map is the first and the memorable one. In that meeting, we discussed our understanding of the course readings, and established a conversation among these articles. Shuli summarized the main arguments of each passage, and Flory and I made connections of different writers. After looking at Flory’s arranged notes of what we said, I put the contents into a conversation map.

Besides this first attempt to finish a group work, we do group project in a similar fashion. We would read the materials and discuss how to present them. Then, we make sure our presentation is sounding by practicing it. We will point out some mistakes if we notice a groupmate’s speech is not convincing. In this way, our group works well because everyone is engaged in the group project and has gripped his or her stances.

For essay revision, we normally give advice to each other through group discussion board. After looking at someone’s paper, we can point out its strengths and weaknesses and give suggestions to revise the essay. We reply to each other’s comment to ensure everyone has provided understandable and helpful feedback. If a groupmate does not give feedback timely, we will notice him or her through WeChat, an app that can display instant messages. This work mode is efficient since we all believe we are responsible for each other’s wellness in writing.

Of course, in the field of writing, I particularly contribute to the group about essays’ citation and organization. I am confident about these two aspects: I always cite ethically, and I regularly scrutinize my essay organization to ensure the transition is well-done. As a result, I can readily give advice to my groupmates’ mistakes about citation and organization. I also provide some technical supports: reserving group study rooms in library, making PowerPoint and video clips for the group presentations.

Still, I am concerned about misreading. Because of lack of common ground, we cannot necessarily comprehend some materials covered in the readings. When this comes to revision work, we may give incorrect suggestions for each other’s papers. For me, this will, indeed, be confusing because sometimes I think my groupmates’ advice on my analysis may be misleading. On the other hand, my groupmates will not trust me if my suggestions are not helpful. To resolve this issue, we may go back to the readings and discuss the part’s meanings, google the misunderstood part, or ask our instructor Dr. Gocsik for clarification.

Overall, I am honorable to be grouped with Flory and Shuli. They are thoughtful and see things in different perspectives. I am looking forward to complete more difficult tasks with them in the next term.


Reflection of writing in this term

In this term, I have achieved multiple skills in reading, writing, and critical thinking. These skills really give me new insights into the realm of college writing. For instance, instead of simply highlighting, I have learned to annotate in an article when I found somewhere interesting. I also gained the ability to raise an intriguing question. Of course, when answering the question, I have known to draw evidence from multiple sources. With the supporting evidence in hand, I can make my passage sensible. I have, too, understood how to ethically cite sources through studying academic integrity. With the rules in mind, I reached a higher level of thinking, that is, summarizing a passage. I have learned that writing a summary requires me to arrange the materials in a brief yet informational fashion. And after making sense of the summary, I started to synthesize the ideas from different writers and put them into a captivating conversation. I also learned to address counterargument to make my idea stronger, and demonstrate this aspect in my presentation. I internalized grammar and style principles, which are important tools in writing and revising my essays. Then, I understood how to strategically analyze how an argument is made. With reflecting skills, I can be aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and work harder in my shortcomings.

This term has its special topic: humor. Reviewing my summary and synthesis paper, I learned how to demonstrate the conversation of different authors about humor’s functions in society. I am pleased to raise an interesting question and invite such many authors to speak for it. This skill is cultivated by studying raising a question and drawing evidence from course readings. The analysis paper also allows me to break down an article and illustrate how each part contributes to the argument. Specifically, when analyzing a comedy, I could apply humor theories, based on my understanding, to address how the comedian makes his or her points. That makes me excited because I can, out of my expectation, tackle the realm of humor with ease. Though most of the assignments are related to humor, the rules that apply to writing are basically the same when I address another discipline. So, I am confident that I can write college-level essays sensibly using the things I learned from the class.

Still, I am concerned about writing in an English convention. I am sure that I do not completely obey that convention when writing, and that makes my essay less understandable. I am also worried about articulating the context or larger conversation. Lacking common background in some fields, I certainly cannot resonate with the readers effectively. Nevertheless, I feel ready for AWP 2B. This class can keep helping me resolving the things I concerned, and proceeds by raising me to a higher level of thinking – argument. This thinking allows me to speak on my own and participate in the larger academic conversation. I feel this step-by-step development of my writing can be really a huge progress in my success in college.

Analysis of Aziz Ansari’s Anti-Racist Comedy

After president Trump’s inauguration, racists started to disparage minorities. To defend the minorities, host Aziz Ansari, in a Saturday Night Live show, performs his stand-up comedy. He argues against racism using the incongruity theory, which states that humor can change the way people think by breaking tension. The audience grow tense as he talks about the lower case kkk movement, that tends to rationalize racism. But when he makes fun of racists, the audience realize that the movement is ridiculous. Ansari proceeds his argument through broaching people’s fear of Muslims. To alleviate discrimination against them, he applies benign violation, a theory that says, “humor arise when something seems wrong and threatening but is completely safe” (McGraw 133). He reveals how people fear about Muslims, and then jokes about these people of their nonsensical fear. Finally, by glorifying former president George Bush’s anti-racist action and consoling the minorities, Ansari scorches the racists and urges Trump to upend racism. Although Ansari offends racists, who support Trump, he confesses, at the beginning, that people should respect them in terms of political opinions. He tells a joke that compares Trump to the popular singer Chris Brown. This joke makes Ansari’s humor successful by creating a common ground, in which people share the understanding of Chris Brown’s music. This common ground helps Ansari to be more understandable and inoffensive. Though he continues offending racists, he gains support from the audience, making the offense worth.

Regarding racism as a serious issue, Aziz Ansari begins his defense of minorities with a statement, “I’m talking about a tiny slice of people that have gotten way too fired up about the Trump thing for the wrong reasons.” (02:30-02:36). Ansari harnesses this statement to shift the audience’s focus toward the lower case kkk movement, and he uses humor to address this problem through implementing incongruity: He stresses the audience by imitating how racists excitedly claim they do not have to pretend to be non-racists. Then, by interrupting the lines, “If you’re one of these people, please go back to pretending” (02:51-02:57), Ansari breaks the audience’s tension and attacks those aggressive racists. He continues the attack through deriding their rationale. “They see me. Trump won, go back to … where you came from. Yeah. They’re not usually geography buffs” (03:53-04:03). Ansari tells this joke to discompose racists, making them laughable instead of intimidating. He proves Critchley’s note that, incongruity creates laughter, and “by laughing at power, we expose its contingency, we realize that what appeared to be fixed and oppressive is in fact the emperor’s new clothes” (Critchley 126). Ansari sensibly uses incongruity to satirize racists, and succeeds in changing the audience’s view about them. He also testifies Mary O’Hara’s belief about humor’s social functions, “Satire is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” (O’Hara 106). Ansari employs this belief to signify that lower case kkk movement makes minorities unsafe. But through satire, he balances the feelings of all the people.

Indeed, Ansari accomplishes refuting racists, making them embarrassed of their irrational actions. But to truly extinguish racism, Ansari should ensure that people are comfortable with minorities. To do this, Ansari leads the audience to another part of his problem, “A lot of people haven’t interacted with any brown people in normal life” (04:57-05:03), and demonstrates that brown people deserve being treated equally. He pokes fun at Muslims by applying benign violation theory, which states that humor makes things funny when the unsafe becomes safe. He first introduces most people’s feelings, “Any time they watch movies, TV shows and a character is Arabic, praying or something that scary music from ‘homeland’ is underneath it. It’s terrifying” (05:50-06:02). This sentence unsettles the audience because of their fear of Muslims. However, as he mocks Muslims, making it appears funny, the audience break into laughter and their fear toward Muslims wanes. According to Olga Khazan, “You can’t make a joke without inserting a wicked twist, and you can’t be a comedian without holding a small amount of power, for even a short period of time, over the audience” (Khazan 113). Ansari broaches Muslims to terrify the audience, gaining him the power to reveal the unsettling truth. Then, as he grasps the power, he shifts the atmosphere and progressively lessens their anxiety through humor. Eventually, he makes people laugh, and they realize that the fear is unnecessary.

After using humor to convince people that racism is absurd, Ansari, with a more emphatic attitude, furthers that president Trump should make a speech denouncing lower case kkk (06:32-06:40). Ansari employs George Bush, a former president of United States, to illustrate what a real president should do: After 9/11, Bush made a speech to denounce terrorists, and clarified that they do not represent Islam. Ansari appreciates Bush speaking for his argument, and uses delightful tone to praise Bush, “He guided us with his eloquence!” (07:44-08:00). Ansari harnesses this tone to empower the minorities, who are disappointed about Trump’s inauguration. He also consoles them by asserting, “If you look at our history, change doesn’t come from president. Change comes from large groups of angry people” (08:17-08:29) He uses this statement to encourage minorities to fight against racism if it still prevails.

So far, Ansari has provided a sounding argument against racism by using humor. Though his jokes offend racists, Ansari identifies with them at the beginning of the comedy. He points out that people should not disparage racists, part of the voters for Trump, and gives credit to them through a shared common ground, that is, knowing the popular singer Chris Brown. Chris Brown’s music has some characteristics that receive different comments from the population, and Ansari applies analogy to compare him with Trump, “Donald Trump is basically the Chris Brown of Politics” (01:54-02:01). Ansari acknowledges that people should respect others even if they hold different political standing. He also admits that split in political opinions, compared to racism, is not a big deal, “As long as we treat each other with respect and remember we are all Americans it will be fine” (02:14:02:20). From this sentence, he can distinguish between political conflict and racism; though Ansari offends racists later, he accomplishes in justifying his arguments against them.

In conclusion, Ansari presents a compelling comedy that targets toward racism. Though he explicitly discusses Trump’s inauguration and motivates people to respect Trump supporters, Ansari disagrees with racists, whom he offends through humor. He applies the incongruity theory to ridicule their reckless discrimination against minorities during the lower case kkk movement. By doing this, Ansari changes the audience’s view about the racists, making them appear funny. He also uses benign violation theory to tell people that interacting with minorities is fine. Finally, Ansari regards George Bush as a model against racism to persuade Trump to take similar actions. Should the racism still exist, Ansari encourages the minorities to defeat racism on their own.


Works Cited

“Aziz Ansari Stand-Up Monologue – SNL.” YouTube, uploaded by Saturday Night Live, 22 Jan.2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Whde50AacZs.

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 SanDiego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 122-131.

Khazan, Olga. “The Dark Psychology of Being a Good Comedian.” Atlantic, 27 Feb. 2014,www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/02/the-dark-psychology-of-being-a-good-comedian/284104/. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 112-115.

McGraw, Peter and Joel Warner. “Entry 1: What, Exactly, Makes Something Funny?” Slate, 23Mar. 2014, http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/features/2014/the_humor_code/what_makes_something_funny_a_bold_new_attempt_at_a_unified_theory_of_comedy.html. Rpt. in The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, pp. 132-135.

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 The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing with Humor Readings. UC San Diego Bookstore,2017, pp. 104-111.



I am grateful for my instructor Dr. Gocsik for facilitating me to write analysis effectively. I also appreciate my mentor Sarah for giving suggestions to my focus on the essay. My groupmates Flory and Shuli provide common reader responses and rhetorical analyses to help me revise the essay sensibly.


Reflection of Summary and Synthesis Essay

The present society has many stereotypes that bother people a lot. These stereotypes impose negative attributes to certain individuals when, in fact, not all of them possess the negative attributes. Among the course readings, several authors address the widespread social issue and discuss about humor upending these stereotypes. Having been critical of the social ailments, I am interested in writing how humor fight against stereotypes. This question is debatable, and I want to synthesize it into a hodgepodge of ideas that speak to each other.

I visualize the Summary and Synthesis paper as a dinner party conversation. In this conversation, the invited guests will answer my motivating question. O’Hara, an observant writer in humor’s social functions, has met a lot of stakeholders. She has a standing to discuss about the way humor effect stereotypes in a social perspective. Critchley brings an insightful idea in how humor execute its function. He raises incongruity theory to address how humor make people laugh. And beyond the laughter, he also posits that humor can change the situation, including stereotypes. St. George sees the topic in a different facet, proposing a potential limitation for humor to function effectively. However, Peters and Farsad, two real-life examples about using humor to fight stereotypes, refute the limitation broached by St. George. These five guests comprise an intriguing conversation. But when put the conversation into words, I should know what each guest is talking about in his or her own article.

Indeed, writing the summary and synthesis essay requires comprehensive understanding of the course readings (Gocsik 50). They are the sources of the conversation and occupy most of the paper. Besides, the essay should connect those materials in a sensible way. By connecting the sources together, the readers can see how the conversation is going. Grammar and style also play indispensable roles in structuring the essay. Following certain stylistic rules can make me better demonstrate my understanding of the articles, and make the essay more readable.

Because I illustrate the conversation aptly and correct mistakes during the revision, the essay turns out to be successful. The first draft makes a good start. By inviting five guests with different arguments, I host a sounding conversation about the captivating question: How does humor fight against stereotypes. I organize the course materials sensibly so that each paragraph has its own main idea with connection to other guests’ sayings. The sentences are mostly cohesive through old-to-new principle, ensuring the readers can keep track of the progress. The paragraphs are also coherent by transitions; the readers can clearly see the connections among guests.

However, my introduction does not provide an accurate roadmap to my readers. I learn that I should work on introduction harder, because it guides me to write, too. O’Hara has several thoughtful stakeholders, and their quotes should be further unpacked to let the readers process their ideas effectively. A lot of unnecessary words and nominalizations are present. These words hinder me to demonstrate the conversation efficiently. I should, therefore, follow the actor/action and concision principles to correct the mistakes.

During revision of the first draft, I work hard in my weaknesses. At the same time, as I reread O’Hara’s article, I deepen my understanding to this material and change her role in the conversation: Instead of simply claiming humor can fight stereotypes, O’Hara provides an answer to my controlling question. And her argument is more persuasive when her stakeholders’ perspectives are analyzed.

So, from this revision, I also learn that I should come back to course readings to see if I get higher level of thinking about these passages. This is a part of the course objective “develop critical reading strategies for analyzing and responding to academic texts” (Gocsik 101). Another objective I should consider working on is “find and use evidence from multiple sources” (101). Though I can bring up a clear claim and answer a level-three question, as shown by the summary and synthesis paper, I ought to unpack how the claim is made effectively.

To meet these objectives, I plan to engage in discussion of my paper with my instructor and peers. They can give me advice to refine the essay and prompt me to internalize those suggestions. I also want to improve my writing through regular exercises. By practicing writing, I can explore my weaknesses that I should care, and the strengths I should keep. In addition to working on assignments, I will keep updating my weblog, where I can apply the principles I learned in class to write in broader context.


Work Cited

Gocsik, Karen Marie. “Chapter Nine: Writing the Summary & Synthesis Essay.” The Essential Guide to Analytical Writing, UC San Diego Bookstore, 2017, p. 26.



I am grateful for my instructor Dr. Gocsik for facilitating me to write reflection effectively. The reflection helps me a lot in keeping track of what I learned in AWP class.