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Humour as social dreaming:Stand-up comedy as therapeutic performance.

MacRury, I., 2012. Humour as social dreaming:Stand-up comedy as therapeutic performance. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 17, 185 - 203 .

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Humour as social dreaming draft.pdf - Accepted Version


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DOI: 10.1057/pcs.2012.20


Stand-up comedy binds dramatic cultural spectacle to ritualised, intimate exposure. Examining ‘case’ examples from live comic performance, this paper describes stand-up as a kind of social dreaming. The article proposes a theoretical frame drawing on Thomas Ogden’s notion of ‘talking as dreaming’ and psychoanalytic accounts connecting humour and melancholia. Locating the stand-up comedian’s propensity for humour in a specialist capacity to hone, display and process traumata, the paper characterises stand-up as a performative oscillation evoking paranoid-schizoid and depressive anxieties. A psychosocial gloss places stand-up as a cultural resource in the service of the popular-as-therapeutic. The paper articulates complementarities between Henri Bergson’s formulations on the function of laughter and an emergent object relations account in order to help to recognise ‘containing’ and ‘cultural-restorative’ aspects of much stand-up, understood as contemporary psychosocial ritual.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:humour; stand-up comedy; psychoanalysis; Bergson; object relations
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:21177
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:05 May 2014 18:27
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:48


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