Comedy, race and ethnicity
in Laughing matters
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Comedy has an important role in determining attitudes and behaviour towards stereotyped social groups, but the nature and effect of this role is a matter of debate. This chapter investigates race and ethnicity as issues for comedy, and evaluates various examples of screen and radio comedy which have picked their way through the cultural minefields. It focuses on the changes in television representations of race in Britain and on the representation of African-Americans in film and television. The chapter then explores why comedy is often the preferred form for raising these issues and how easily humour around race and ethnicity takes on an ambivalence that might be troubling as well as effective in producing laughter. Hollywood cinema has traditionally downplayed ethnic difference and promoted the idea of the melting pot, thus privileging conformity to US values and homogeneity among American citizens, as Lester D. Friedman argues.

Laughing matters

Understanding film, television and radio comedy

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