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The Laughing Stalk: Live Comedy and Its Audiences
Edited by Judy Batalion
Aesthetic Critical Inquiry
Edited by Andrea Feeser
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978-1-60235-242-1 (paperback, $30; £21; $32 CAD; €24; $31 AUS) 978-1-60235-243-8 (hardcover, $60; £42; $64 CAD; €48; $62 AUS) 978-1-60235-244-5 (Adobe ebook on CD, $20; £14; $21 CAD; €16; $21 AUS) © 2012 by Parlor Press. 302 pages, with illustrations, notes, and bibliography.
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With contributions by leading scholars, writers and comedians in the USA, the UK and Canada, The Laughing Stalk: Live Comedy and Its Audiences focuses on the dynamics of audience behavior. Performers, writers, historians, producers, and theorists explore the practice and reception of live comedy performance, including cultural and historical variations in comedy audience conduct, the reception of “low” versus “high” comedy, and the differences between televised and live jokes. Contributors reflect on the subjectivity of audience members and the spread of affect, as well as the two-way relationship between joker and listener. They investigate race, sexuality and gender in humor, and contemplate the comedy club as a distinct spatial and emotional environment. The Laughing Stalk: Live Comedy and Its Audiences includes excerpts and scripts from Michael Frayne’s Audience and Andrea Fraser’s Inaugural Speech. Judy Batalion interviews noted comic writers, performers, and theater designers, including Iain Mackintosh, Shazia Mirza, Julia Chamberlain, Scott Jacobson, and Andrea Fraser. Sarah Boyes contributes a short photographic essay on comedy clubbers. Essay contributors include Alice Rayner, Matthew Daube, Lesley Harbidge, Gavin Butt, Diana Solomon, Rebecca Krefting, Kevin McCarron, Nile Seguin, Elizabeth Klaver, Frances Gray, AL Kennedy, Kélina Gotman, and Samuel Godin. The comedy duo of Sable & Batalion share their conclusions about audience responses to hip-hop theater.
About the Editor
Judy Batalion is a writer, performer, and independent scholar. She has written and performed stand-up, sketches, improv, one-woman shows, short films, and comedy theater in her native Canada, throughout the UK (where she spent a decade), and in the US. Her academic work has appeared in publications including Contemporary Theatre Review, and her journalism and personal essays have been published in newspapers, magazines and blogs, including the Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Salon, the Forward and Nerve. She has a BA from Harvard in the History of Science, and a PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, in Art History. She currently resides in New York City.
Introduction: Difference at Work: The Live Comedy Audience
1 Creating the Audience: It’s All in the Timing
2 Room for Comedy
3 The Stand-up as Stand-in: Performer-Audience Intimacy and the Emergence of the Stand-Up Comic in the United States since the 1950s
4 A Comedic Tour de Monde
5 Audienceship and (Non)Laughter in the Stand-up Comedy of Steve Martin
6 Hoyle’s Humility
7 George Lillo’s The London Merchant and the Laughing Audience
8 Laughter in the Final Instance: The Cultural Economy of Humor (Or why women aren’t perceived to be as funny as men)
9 Rhyme or Reason: Trying to Draw Some Conclusions about Comedy Audiences
Sable & Batalion
10 Choosing Comedy
11 Seven Steps to the Stage: The Audience as Co-creator of the Stand-up Comedy Night
12 Hecklers: A Taxonomy
13 The Comedy Clubbers: Photographs
15 Ugly Betty and the (Live) Comedy Audience
16 Watching Me, Watching You: Sitcom and Surveillance
17 Obscene or Absent: Literary versus Comedy Audiences
18 The Daily Show’s Studio Audience
19 It’s My Show, Or, Shut Up and Laugh: Spheres of Intimacy in the Comic Arena and How New Technologies Play Their Part in the “Live” Act
Kélina Gotman and Samuel Godin
20 High Time for Humor
21 Inaugural Speech
About the Editor