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Appears in Collections:Communications, Media and Culture Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Humour as 'social dreaming': Stand-up comedy as therapeutic performance
Author(s): MacRury, Iain
Keywords: humour
stand-up comedy
object relations
Issue Date: Jun-2012
Date Deposited: 20-Sep-2021
Citation: MacRury I (2012) Humour as 'social dreaming': Stand-up comedy as therapeutic performance. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 17 (2), pp. 185-203.
Abstract: Stand-up comedy binds dramatic cultural spectacle to ritualised, intimate exposure. Examining ‘case’ examples from live comic performance, this paper describes stand-up as a kind of social dreaming. The article proposes a theoretical frame drawing on Thomas Ogden's notion of ‘talking as dreaming’ and psychoanalytic accounts connecting humour and melancholia. Locating the stand-up comedian's propensity for humour in a specialist capacity to hone, display and process traumata, the paper characterises stand-up as a performative oscillation evoking paranoid-schizoid and depressive anxieties. A psychosocial gloss places stand-up as a cultural resource in the service of the popular-as-therapeutic. The paper articulates complementarities between Henri Bergson's formulations on the function of laughter and an emergent object relations account in order to help to recognise ‘containing’ and ‘cultural-restorative’ aspects of much stand-up, understood as contemporary psychosocial ritual.
DOI Link: 10.1057/pcs.2012.20
Rights: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. The final authenticated version is available online at:
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