Accepted Paper:

Dwelling on stage: embodied management of stand-up performances  

Author:

Antti Lindfors (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the management of stand-up comedy performances from the combined perspective of phenomenology, gesture studies, and performance-oriented folkloristics. I will consider the implications of phenomenology for the study of gestures in staged oral performances, and vice versa.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the management of stand-up comedy performances from the combined perspective of phenomenology, gesture studies, and performance-oriented folkloristics. Stand-up comedy is a genre of oral performance that is structured around an emulation of spontaneous conversation in the present here-and-now. Prominently risk-laden in terms of interactional success, stand-up performances necessitate fluent rapport between performers and audience - the comics are expected to control and manage the room.

Gestures and movement are the primary (corporeal) devices through which comics manage the relationship with their audiences and surroundings. Gestures reflect and constitute representations of the spaces speakers inhabit and talk about, as well as mediate relations between various spatiotemporal frames (Haviland 2000, 47). Methodologically, gestures provide a central gateway onto a phenomenologically oriented performance analysis (e.g. Young 2011), while also shedding light on the dialogic and expressive nature of stand-up in general.

In my presentation I will consider the implications of phenomenology for the study of gestural communication in staged oral performances, and vice versa. In particular, I will explore how by mediating various viewpoints between the performer (the subject), the performed text (the object), and the audience, certain gestures, such as deictic "points" and iconic gestures, problematize perspectivism as a fundamental tenet of phenomenology.

REFERENCES

Haviland, John B. 2000: Pointing, gesture spaces, and mental maps. In David McNeill (ed.), Language and Gesture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Young, Katherine 2011. Gestures, Intercorporeity, and the Fate of Phenomenology in Folklore. Journal of American Folklore, 124(492), 55-87.

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Ways of dwelling: a phenomenological approach