Reflections on UK Comedy’s Glass Ceiling: Stand-Up Comedy and Contemporary Feminisms

TOMSETT, Eleanor Louise (2019). Reflections on UK Comedy’s Glass Ceiling: Stand-Up Comedy and Contemporary Feminisms. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis considers the ways in which the current UK stand-up comedy industry both accommodates and simultaneously marginalises female voices. This research concerns itself with three key areas of enquiry: Firstly, I examine how the development of stand-up comedy, alongside gender stereotypes, has resulted in additional barriers to women’s participation in live comedy, and how these barriers are maintained in a digital era. Stand-up comedy as an art form has emerged from, and been developed within, male dominated spaces. This has impacted upon the style and content of the comedy produced in the live arena, as well as broadcast comedy. This research considers how the origins of stand-up comedy still impact on current live comedy production and how this is intrinsically linked to wider societal stereotypes about the capabilities of women. Secondly, I consider the work being undertaken in the current context to address the continuing gender inequality on the UK circuit, and what these initiatives mean to performers and audiences. My original contribution to knowledge is to synthesise the results of immersive research with the UK Women in Comedy Festival in Manchester, which investigated practical initiatives seeking to make the industry more inclusive to women, with the results of qualitative and mixed-methods research into the perspectives of performers, promoters and audiences on the importance of these initiatives. As a result I offer both an overview of the current scene and suggestions for the future. Lastly, I analyse examples of stand-up comedy performed by women in the current context and how these performances relate to conceptions of feminist and postfeminist humour, as well as notions of backlash against contemporary feminisms. This research focuses on live comedy that is explicitly feminist in its presentation and content to consider how social attitudes to women, the increasing visibility of female labour outside the home, and the emergence of multiple (occasionally contradictory) feminisms has influenced the comedy produced by female comedians in 21st century Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Shin, Chi Yun [0000-0002-0629-6928]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Chi Yun Shin "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2020 16:15
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:02

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