DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Signed by the Author > Comic Performativities

Communication professor explores the relationship between humor, identity and offense

Comic Performativities: Identity, Internet Outrage and the Aesthetics of Communication
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Comic Performativities: Identity, Internet Outrage and the Aesthetics of Communication

By: Dustin Goltz, College of Communication

"Comic Performativities: Identity, Internet Outrage, and the Aesthetics of Communication" highlights patterns of criticism and public debate in the relationship between humor, identity and offense. In an increasingly reductive and politically charged debate, right-wing pundits argue leftist politics has compromised a free and open discussion, while scholars take right-wing critics to task for reifying systems of oppression under the guise of reason and respect. In response, the text scrutinizes 21st century "comedic controversies," the notion of "political correctness," and the so-called "outrage machine" of social media. How should we appropriately determine whether a joke is "sexist," "racist," or "offensive?"

What's the most surprising thing you learned while writing this book?
Comic Performativities: Identity, Internet Outrage and the Aesthetics of Communication
(Image courtesy of Routledge)

I was surprised to find out how consistently the live audiences were dismissed or ignored when talking about stand-up comedy. Rather than approaching stand-up as a dialogic process, one where comedians are working with and from audience response to co-create meaning- critics so often only look at the words a comedian speaks. This reconstructs the comedy in very reductive and limited ways that simplifies the interactive dimension, textualizes a far more complex aesthetic event, and works to coach outrage and controversy. 

Persuade someone to read your book in less than 50 words.

The book coaches the reader to cultivate a self-reflexive and multi-channeled approach to engaging the art of stand-up comedy. The text calls upon readers to wrestle with the complexities of physical bodies, various audiences, media, irony and their own interpretive processes when they experience the deceptively simple-seeming reactions of laughter or offense. 

About the author: 

Dustin Goltz earned his Ph.D. from Arizona State University's Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and a MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago. Goltz teaches courses in performance identity and popular culture, with additional interests in gender and communication, rhetorical methods, queer theory, critical theory and cultural studies. His research examines and explores issues of queer temporalities and futurity, queer popular culture, the performance of personal narrative, the rhetoric of gay male aging and the performativity of critical discourse.

Publisher, publication date, length:

Routledge, June 2017, 202 pages

Signed by the Author allows DePaul faculty and staff to introduce their recently published or upcoming book or chapter to the university community. To submit your book or chapter for consideration, contact Newsline.