Comedian autobiographies - an examination of the publishing phenomenon

Kugler, K ORCID: 2021, Comedian autobiographies - an examination of the publishing phenomenon , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Simon Amstell, Kevin Bridges, Billy Connolly, Adam Hills, Michael McIntyre, and Sarah Millican are not only well-known stand-up comedians in the United Kingdom, but they have also all written autobiographies, with the majority becoming bestsellers. Comedian autobiographies are a contemporary publishing phenomenon that has become increasingly popular in the past 20 years, but they are without any academic study so far. This PhD thesis investigates comedian autobiographies and defines their unique characteristics. In approaching this under-researched topic this thesis draws on sources from a variety of academic fields, such as studies on genre, disability, and memory, and includes analyses of recorded stand-up performances by the comedians. It is argued that the key characteristics of a comedian’s persona and comedic voice established in their stand-up and television work must be transferred into their autobiographies to maintain authenticity. The stand-up comedian brings humour into a text to match the voice of their public comedy persona, which creates its own distinctive and meta-autobiographical sub-genre. The thesis goes on to position this new, popular sub-genre alongside autobiographical writing and within creative non-fiction, if we understand autobiographical writing as “a historically situated practice of self-representation” (Smith and Watson, Reading Autobiography, 2001, p. 14), which is “inspired by a creative, and therefore fictional, impulse to select only those events and experiences in the writer’s life that go to build up an integrated pattern” (Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, 1957, p. 305). More recently, creative non-fiction has been defined more simply as “the practice of writing nonfiction in a dramatic and imaginative way” (Gutkind and Fletcher, Keep It Real, 2009, p. 13). The comedian autobiographies studied show, primarily through the use of humour, considerable heterogeneity and subversion of ‘an integrated pattern’. These range from the visual aspects of the books to the self-reflexive content and structure. Thereby, some comedian autobiographies are interspersed with transcripts from the comedians’ stand-up comedy performances and others resemble self-help books discussing the benefits of humour as/ and therapy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: White, G (Supervisor) and Hurley, UK (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Depositing User: Katrin Kugler
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2021 14:32
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 14:47

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