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The comic event: comedic performance from the 1950s to the present

The comic event: comedic performance from the 1950s to the present

Roof, Judith, 1951- author

The Comic Event approaches comedy as dynamic phenomenon that involves the gathering of elements of performance, signifiers, timings, tones, gestures, previous comic bits, and other self-conscious structures into an "event" that triggers, by virtue of a "cut," an expected/unexpected resolution. Using examples from mainstream comedy, The Comic Event progresses from the smallest comic moment-jokes, bits-to the more complex-caricatures, sketches, sit-coms, parody films, and stand-up routines. Judith Roof builds on side comments from Henri Bergson's short treatise "Laughter," Sigmund Freud's Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, and various observations from Aristotle to establish comedy as a complex, multifaceted practice. In seeing comedy as a gathering event that resolves with a "cut," Roof characterizes comedy not only by a predictable unpredictability occasioned by a sudden expected/unexpected insight, but also by repetition, seriality, self-consciousness, self-referentiality, and an ourobouric return to a previous cut. This theory of comedy offers a way to understand the operation of a broad array of distinct comic occasions and aspects of performance in multiple contexts

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018
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Statement of responsibility: Judith Roof
ISBN: 150133574X, 9781501335730, 9781501335747
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Note: Formerly CIP.
Physical Description: 231 pages
Subject: Stand-up comedy History 20th century.; Performing Arts; Dance; Literary theory; Media studies
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9781501335723


  1. Prolegomenon: "a pert challenge flung at philosophic speculation+?
  2. Bit I: "At First Mere Improvisation+?
  3. Bit II: Reverberations: The Joke of the Joke
  4. Bit III: Repetition and the Exquisite Seriesness of Series
  5. Bit IV: "Play It Again, Sheldon+? Nothing in Comedy Ever Only Happens Once
  6. Bit V: The Comic Uncanny; or The Character of Caricature
  7. Bit VI: Breaking Stacks and Cutting Layers: The Self-conscious Comedy of Comedy
  8. Bit VII: Doubling Down on the Mise en Abyme: The Comic Contexts of Comedy
  9. Bit VIII: Ourobouros-Epanalepsis: "a pert challenge flung at philosophic speculation+?
  10. Bit IX: Ourobouroubouroubouros; Or When Parody Takes Itself On
  11. Bit X: The Long and Winding Road
  12. Epilogue: The Aristocratic Apparatus