Tragicomic presentations of self : starring Phil Silvers as Bilko : the incomplete comic human

Wilkie, Ian ORCID: 2016, 'Tragicomic presentations of self : starring Phil Silvers as Bilko : the incomplete comic human' , Comedy Studies, 7 (2) , pp. 1-11.

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When a performer becomes over-associated with a particular, celebrated comic character can this lead to problems, not merely in terms of type-casting, but in creating confusions for the actor’s own perception of self? In instances where a comic creation is perceived to be an extension of the performer’s actual ‘self’, what dissonances in self construct may arise between the comic actor’s created persona and his/her own presentation of self? This article considers the nature of tensions created through the permeation of persona and person which can beset comedians who become closely identified with their particular mediated role. Can, indeed, over-association with their successful ‘signature’ comic role be seen to prove psychologically destabilising for certain performers whose own fragile, sense of identity becomes further compromised by presentation of their own most familiar and definitive, comic creations? Drawing specifically upon the career and comedy of Phil Silvers (aka ‘Sergeant ‘Bilko’), this article attempts to evaluate the forms of crises of identity that can arise between presentations of public and private selves for those performers who become, in effect, ‘public comic property’.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Journal or Publication Title: Comedy Studies
Publisher: Intellect Journals
ISSN: 2040-610X
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr I Wilkie
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2016 10:50
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 21:06

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