Toronto Metropolitan University
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The Influence Of Political Correctness On Stand Up Comedy

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posted on 2021-05-22, 13:48 authored by Martina Buehler
Over the past 20 years, stand-up comedy has been part of the public debate within a prevailing ideology of non-discrimination and inclusiveness – most notably in relation to political correctness. In this context, a trend seems to be emerging, in which a person’s taste in humour is defined by their political identity (Healy, 2016). In other words, a joke is not funny unless it meets a person’s taste conventions prescribed by a political paradigm (Healy, 2016). While the current humour and comedy research aided the analysis of this paper, they present dichotomous views that either allow or disallow joking about certain topics. This dichotomy suggests that the current humour and comedy research does not do justice to the complexity of the topic and that there is a need for further research. This major research paper examined stand-up comedy in an age of political correctness and argued that an ideology of political correctness, non-discrimination and inclusiveness influences the content of stand-up comedy performances and the audience’s responses to them. I analyzed YouTube videos containing race-based and rape jokes as well as jokes about gender stereotypes. Moreover, I examined YouTube users’ comments to the three different joke-tokens. Examining both the jokes and YouTube users’ comments gave me insight into how these joketokens are understood and perceived by YouTube users. None of the jokes can be considered politically correct. This implies that these jokes can ignite political debates, which was observable in YouTube comments about feminism, liberals, gender stereotypes, sexism, misogyny, racism, East Asian culture, rape myths and misandry. The YouTube commenters’ perception seems to be that political correctness has been attempting to influence the stand-up comedy environment with the aim to dictate the content of stand-up comedy performances. However, the YouTube users see political correctness as a “killer” of stand-up comedy and as a negative concept mainly promoted by liberals, the leftist society and feminists. The most dominant theme across all YouTube comments seemed to be the aversion to feminism. Regardless of the joke, feminism was the concept that commenters blamed for the existence of political correctness, the censorship of stand-up comedy performances, for a joke’s lack of funniness, and for the lack of awareness and importance of male rape in research and society. In stand-up comedy, it is an art and talent to convey the literal meaning of a joke so that the subtext is clearly derivable – and even then, the audience’s interpretation depends on experiences, emotions, values, beliefs and political ideologies.





  • Master of Professional Communication


  • Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP



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    Professional Communication (Theses)


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