The Revolution Will Be a Joke: Morality, Transgression, and Semiotic Ideologies in Finnish Stand-Up Comedy

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  • Marianna Päivikki Keisalo
My research is focused on stand-up comedy in Finland. In this paper I have two aims: to give an ethnographic glimpse into how the relation between comedy and political issues is engaged by stand-up comedians in Finland, and to offer an analytic view on the potentials of humor through the lens of semiotic ideology – sign users’ understandings of the means and ends of their sign systems. How do the views held by comedians shape their work and their engagement with audience reactions? While Finland is a small and somewhat marginal country in relation to the current political upheavals, local politics reflect global issues, and Finland is, of course, affected by international issues. Current stand-up comedy in Finland is engaging more and more with political issues and cultural critique. Examples include comedy clubs with specific themes such as feminism, and posts by comedians on social media. The community of comedians in Finland is close-knit and covers the entire country, and in addition to participation-observation in comedy clubs, my material includes public commentary on comedy, and more in-group discussion among comedians on humor and its limits. How are the aims and intentions of comedians realized, and how are they met by audiences? How do ‘humor ideologies’ enable and restrict the effects of humor, for both comedians and audiences? If semiotic ideologies shape our views and practices of using signs, how does sign use affect the ideologies? Humor has at times been labeled as not capable of true efficacy, but is this changing?
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2017
Event106th Annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) - Washington DC, United States
Duration: 28 Nov 2007 → …


Conference106th Annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA)
CountryUnited States
CityWashington DC
Period28/11/2007 → …

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