When Is a Joke? Insights from Legend Scholarship for the Study of Stand-Up Comedy Repertoire Development

Ian Brodie (Cape Breton University)

In “When is a Legend?,” Bill Ellis circumscribes the half-lives of the legend, the different moments in its arc from the teller initial’s impetus to articulate a story-worthy occurrence from “the boundaries of existence” through to its deracinated, decontextualized, and anaesthetic legend report. The “half-life” of a stand-up comedy bit operates in an analogous way, with attendant qualifiers based on the professional and mediated differences between vernacular and professional humorous verbal art I have articulated elsewhere. This paper explores this idea further, both using examples drawn from recent fieldwork and suggesting a research methodology for going forward in future fieldwork.

Part of 05-02 Folk Humor, De- and Re-Centered, Friday, October 14, 10:30 am–12:30 pm