Anthropology | Racial/Ethnic Humor in the U.S.
A208 | 30869 | DeCamp


This course will address the following questions (and many more) about
racial and ethnic humor:  How is racial and ethnic humor constructed
and used?  Who has the authority to make racial/ethnic jokes, and why?
What techniques do comedians/humorists employ to legitimize their
authority to joke about or satirize a given racial or ethnic group?
We will begin by examining basic humor theory as it applies to racial
and ethnic comedy, focusing on the functions and ideas of who can joke
about what, who laughs or “gets the joke,” and the strategies or
styles employed for these purposes.  The second part of the class will
revolve around stand-up comedy techniques and how comics design/adapt
them to their audiences.  Throughout this segment of the class, we
will combine the readings with in-class videos of stand-up
performances in order that we may apply the concepts in the readings
up to this point on stand-up and humor theory during class discussions.

The final third of the course highlights the uses of racial and ethnic
humor in recent literature, television (Chappelle’s Show, The Sarah
Silverman Program), and film (Borat).  We will consider the questions
and ideas raised so far as well as discuss a few new ones.  By the end
of the semester, the goal for this course is that you understand how
racial and ethnic humor is applied and what purpose it serves as well
as be able to try your hand at composing some humorous material.