Published February 2015
Download the full issue here [pdf, 189 pages, 5.26 MB].
Editorial Preface [pdf]
Chris Rudge, Patrick Condliffe
Laura Castagnini’s study of Mika Rottenberg’s Mary’s Cherries brings into view the work of Mika Rottenberg, an artist whose work is surely underexamined within mainstream art history and theory. Subjecting Rottenberg’s 2004 video installation to an analysis that calls on the problematics of parafeminism, as well as on Bakhtin’s notions of the grotesque and carnivalesque, Castagnini’s essay reminds us of the rule that where there is humour, there is also politics.
Melanie Piper’s study of the “comedian podcast” highlights the way in which this new media form—exemplary among so many novel, post-Internet text types—generates a new kind of comedy, collapsing real life into art. Distinguishing the comedian podcast from what might simply be called “comedy podcast,” Taylor’s study observing how it is in the former that we discover something new: a comedian-hosted show that straddles on-stage performance and back-stage “confessional.”
A strident analysis of the behind-the-scenes processes in which female characters are developed for contemporary television and film, Taylor’s essay brings into relief the conditions in which certain exclusionary authorial modes have led to “women’s marginalised (or, at least, consistently interrogated) place in comedy.” Cataloguing a range of figures within the limited representational poetics of female identity, Taylor identfies how certain attributes, like “likability,” and certain stereotypes, like “the klutz,” remain unthinkingly privileged in Hollywood and other entertainment institutions.
Beatriz Carbajal Carrera
In the wake of the recent 2015 terrorist attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, a tragedy which resulted in the deaths of twelve of the cartoon magazine’s staff, Beatriz Carbajal Carrera’s analysis of cartooning techniques seems especially significant. Carbajal Carrera’s study focuses on the prevalence and history of transfiguration in cartoons, and the relationship that devices such as zoomorphism and anthropomorphism maintain with political parody. As Carbajal Carrera attests, these devices engender a way of seeing the world that invokes not only humour but at one time represented an important “divergence from… idealistic representations,” inaugurating not simply a retreat into myth, but “a turn to a more realistic form of representation.”
E. A. Williams
In this innovative essay, E. A. Williams adopts Mikhail Bakhtin’s discussion of “carnival character masks” to confront the problem of “determining who bears responsibility for carnival suversions” in parodic, burlesque, or carnivalesque texts. How, and precisely as what, Williams asks, does Borat (Sacha Baren Cohen) position himself when he continually “question[s] the confidence that [Americans] have in their tolerance”? Williams’s paper shows how Cohen’s character functions as an agent of subversion; how through his ambivalent humour and discomfiting confrontational mode, Borat problematises “Americans’s apparent belief that their acceptance of cultural difference is not only noble, but limitless.”
The theatricalisation of cultural difference is a subject both forcefully addressed and constructively historicised in Karen Austin’s essay, an indispensable account of Australian Black Theatre movements in the late twentieth century. Austin’s analysis observes how many Indigenous plays tell “autobiographical narratives to mainstream audiences” through particular modes of humorous address, such as “yarning” and “taking the mickey.
Garzón, My Dad, and Us [pdf]
Nicolás Llano Linares
Part memoir, part analytical history, Linares’s short piece is a story imbued with the kind of indirect and personal insight that only biographical stortelling allows. It reminds us that what lies at the root of the most “talented” comedians is a superlative fair-mindedness, a political attitude leavened by impartiality and resilience.
Tom Doig offers an appropriation of Winnie The Pooh that Alan Alexander Milne would have surely endorsed himself. “Winnie the Pooh as told by Cormac McCarthy” may forever change the way we see the Hundred Acre Wood, retreading the anxiety-laden footsteps of novelist Cormac McCarthy. Doig’s creative piece “poohnders” an encroaching environmental apocalypse.