Parodying Performance in This Is Spinal Tap

  • Richard Wallace
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Comedy book series (PSCOM)


This chapter focuses on the seminal rock-mockumentary This is Spinal Tap in order to provide a detailed examination of how parodic humour is conveyed through an imitation of documentary style. Underpinning the analysis is a discussion of Spinal Tap’s ‘realness’ as defined by Judith Butler. The straightforward notion that Spinal Tap is a fictional band (as determined by our recognition of their parodic aspects) is complicated by the reflexive critique of the performative nature of real rock musicians. This layering of performative elements is further problematised by Spinal Tap’s continued existence outside of the diegesis of the original film text as an authentic recording and touring act. This has resulted in a subversive challenge to the rock documentary form, with our understanding of the genre coloured by This is Spinal Tap.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK

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