A National Joke: Popular Comedy and English Cultural Identities by Andy MedhurstA National Joke: Popular Comedy and English Cultural Identities by Andy Medhurst

A National Joke: Popular Comedy and English Cultural Identities

byAndy MedhurstEditorAndy Medhurst

Paperback | November 5, 2007

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Comedy is crucial to how the English see themselves. This book considers that proposition through a series of case studies of popular English comedies and comedians in the twentieth century, ranging from the Carry On films to the work of Mike Leigh and contemporary sitcoms such asThe Royle Family, and from George Formby to Alan Bennett and Roy 'Chubby' Brown.

Relating comic traditions to questions of class, gender, sexuality and geography,A National Jokelooks at how comedy is a cultural thermometer, taking the temperature of its times. It asks why vulgarity has always delighted English audiences, why camp is such a strong thread in English humour, why class influences what we laugh at and why comedy has been so neglected in most theoretical writing about cultural identity. Part history and part polemic, it argues that the English urgently need to reflect on who they are, who they have been and who they might become, and insists that comedy offers a particularly illuminating location for undertaking those reflections.

Andy Medhurstworks in the Department of Media and Film at the University of Sussex. He has been teaching and writing about issues of identity, representation and popular culture since 1982. He is the co-editor ofLesbian and Gay Studiesand the author of a forthcoming book onCoronation Street.
Title:A National Joke: Popular Comedy and English Cultural IdentitiesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.6 inPublished:November 5, 2007Publisher:Taylor and FrancisLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0415168783

ISBN - 13:9780415168786

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Concerning Comedy  3. Notions of Nation  4. Englishnesses  5. Music Hall: Contours and Legacies  6. Our Gracious Queens: English Comedy's Effeminate Tradition  7. Lads in Love: Gender and Togetherness in the Male Double Act  8. Thirty Nibbles at the Same Cherry: Why the 'Carry Ons' Carry On  9. Bermuda My Arse: Class, Culture and 'The Royle Family'  10. Anatomising England: Alan Bennett, Mike Leigh, Victoria Wood  11. Togetherness through Offensiveness: The Importance of Roy 'Chubby' Brown  12. Conclusion: A National Sense of Humour ?

Editorial Reviews

'In A National Joke, Medhurst...uses comedy to pin down that most elusive of things, the English national identity.' The Guardian 'This is an excellent study of a popular comedy that links it into a variety of English cultural identities. Unusually for a book classified as cultural studies, it is clearly written, and by an author who enjoys humour... a splendid account' - The Times Higher Education 'Most of the best scholarly work on comedy in the UK that has appeared during the last 25 years has come from Medhurst... At last there is an engaging but serious study of what makes English comedy both English and funny.' - Critical Studies in Television