Humour Without Anaesthetic: The Discomfort of Reality Comedy

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


This chapter is an investigation of the humour of discomfort as manifested in The Office (BBC 2001–2003), Jackass (MTV 2000–2001) and Borat (Charles 2006). Despite the marked differences between these examples, they share a common orientation towards the documentary form by which they appeal to the reality of the situations represented and their connection to the lived existence of the audience. Lingering upon moments of bodily injury, extreme affective states and social failure, these comic texts refuse to contain or resolve the possibility of discomfort, which is instead escalated in order to implicate the audience in the humiliation and suffering of those on-screen in a manner that complicates the experience of humour.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of English and Media StudiesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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