Comedy and Critique explores British professional stand-up comedy in the wake of the Alternative Comedy movement of the late twentieth century, seeing it as an extension of the politics of the New Left: standing up for oneself as anti-racist, feminist and open to a queering of self and social institutions. Daniel Smith demonstrates that the comic sensibility pervading contemporary humour is as much ‘speaking truth to power’ as it is realising one’s position ‘in’ power. The professionalisation of New Left humour offers a challenge to social and cultural critique. Stand-up comedy has made us all sociologists of self, identity and cultural power while also resigning us to a place where a comic sensibility becomes an acknowledgment of the necessity of social change.
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