Concurrent Panel Session Nine

Abstract Title

"That's a group that does not have a sense of humour”: A Comparative Survey of Comedy Central Presents Before and After September 11th

Start Date

8-4-2018 11:00 AM

End Date

8-4-2018 11:50 AM

Abstract

On April 22, 2002 Comedy Central Presents debuted an episode featuring Lewis Black. One notable aspect of that episode is that it was the first new episode of the series aired after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. A good deal of his special was spent reacting satirically to the events of 9-11. For example, at one point during his typical Lewis Black-esque rant he declared, “patriotism and religion are only good and only in balance when they have a sense of humour. And when they don't, things go awry. All we have to do is look at our enemy, that's a group that does not have a sense of humour, that's a group that just snapped.” In The Cultural Set up of Comedy Julie Webber insists, “comedy is about power…It can be a way to inspire people to think outside the box: good comedy does that.” This presentation is a survey of the Comedy Central series Presents in which I compare episodes aired before and after September 11, 2001 in an effort to catalogue any differences. This includes elements such as jokes about terrorism, patriotism, and jokes about people of Middle Eastern descent. This is also an effort to examine any changes or increase in the interest of religious satire evident in any comedians or the show itself. Data collected will be contextualized within my larger project of examining religious satire after September 11th, especially as a method of analyzing the role of comedy in skeptical thinking and the rise of the stand up comedian as public intellectuals. As Megan Garber put it, “Comedians have taken on the role of public intellectuals. They’re exploring and wrestling with important ideas” (“How Comedians Became Public Intellectuals” The Atlantic).

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Apr 8th, 11:00 AM Apr 8th, 11:50 AM

"That's a group that does not have a sense of humour”: A Comparative Survey of Comedy Central Presents Before and After September 11th

On April 22, 2002 Comedy Central Presents debuted an episode featuring Lewis Black. One notable aspect of that episode is that it was the first new episode of the series aired after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. A good deal of his special was spent reacting satirically to the events of 9-11. For example, at one point during his typical Lewis Black-esque rant he declared, “patriotism and religion are only good and only in balance when they have a sense of humour. And when they don't, things go awry. All we have to do is look at our enemy, that's a group that does not have a sense of humour, that's a group that just snapped.” In The Cultural Set up of Comedy Julie Webber insists, “comedy is about power…It can be a way to inspire people to think outside the box: good comedy does that.” This presentation is a survey of the Comedy Central series Presents in which I compare episodes aired before and after September 11, 2001 in an effort to catalogue any differences. This includes elements such as jokes about terrorism, patriotism, and jokes about people of Middle Eastern descent. This is also an effort to examine any changes or increase in the interest of religious satire evident in any comedians or the show itself. Data collected will be contextualized within my larger project of examining religious satire after September 11th, especially as a method of analyzing the role of comedy in skeptical thinking and the rise of the stand up comedian as public intellectuals. As Megan Garber put it, “Comedians have taken on the role of public intellectuals. They’re exploring and wrestling with important ideas” (“How Comedians Became Public Intellectuals” The Atlantic).