American political stand-up comedy as a subversive and conservative cultural form in the Obama era

Nixon, James Alexander (2018) American political stand-up comedy as a subversive and conservative cultural form in the Obama era. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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President Obama’s tenure in the White House had a significant effect on political comic deliberation and performance within stand-up comedy, particularly in reference to discussions of race and racial politics. This thesis examines the subversive and conservative qualities of political stand-up comedy under his presidency, exploring how the cultural form reacted and responded to the ideological, performative, cultural and political tones and pressures of this era. These chapters range from an analysis of Obama’s own presidential stand-up addresses, to African American, left-wing and right-wing political comic reaction within stand-up comedy, and finishes with an examination of Donald Trump’s effect on political stand-up (and the broader areas of political comic production) in the final year of the Obama era. The thesis’ nine case studies explore narratives and issues of Obama-era power and various political, social and cultural items of the period. The primary methodology consists of textual and discourse analyses of the nine case studies. These are reinforced using a broad data collection of relevant journalistic, political, theoretical, comic, and cultural analysis. The main findings of this thesis are that political stand-up comedy was largely a timid cultural agent in the Obama era due to a range of ideological, racial, cultural and socio-political qualities. Subversive elements can, however, still be found throughout the nine case studies, particularly in the area of right-wing political stand-up comedy, a subversion which is magnified by the field’s deficit in cultural and social insurance in comparison to African American and left-wing political comic ruminations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: American Studies, politics, comedy, culture, political communication, stand-up comedy, performance, humour, Obama, presidency.
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F001 United States local history
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts
Supervisor's Name: Rattray, Dr. Laura and Archibald, Dr. David
Date of Award: 2018
Embargo Date: 18 February 2021
Depositing User: Mr James Nixon
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8786
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2018 11:26
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2018 08:58

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