Truth and Autobiography in Stand-up Comedy and the Genius of Doug Stanhope

Hanscomb, S. (2019) Truth and Autobiography in Stand-up Comedy and the Genius of Doug Stanhope. British Society for Aesthetics Synergy Conference: How to do Things with Jokes, University of Kent, UK, 25-27 Oct 2019.

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Abstract

It’s common for stand-up comedians to tell stories as well as, or instead of, jokes. Stories bring something extra to the performance, and when presented as true add a further layer of appeal. However, most stories told as if true by comedians are not true. A categorizing of forms of comedic story is presented involving the dimensions of grammatical person and truthfulness. Some advantages of comedians’ employing true first-person stories are discussed, and these considerations are then explored through the role of autobiography in the work of Doug Stanhope. Many aspects of Stanhope’s (highly unusual) life find their way into his shows, and true stories and his personality more broadly are folded into other elements of his act (such as his political views). Links are made with Kierkegaard’s notion of ‘inwardness’ and Carl Rogers’ therapeutic ‘congruence’ and ‘transparency’, and it’s argued that authenticity is a prerequisite for the quality of self-disclosure that is basic to Stanhope’s excellence.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:Doug Stanhope, stand-up comedy, authenticity, truth, sincerity.
Status:Published
Refereed:No
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanscomb, Dr Stuart
Authors: Hanscomb, S.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Author
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the Author
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