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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LISS1033 Comedy, Performance and British Culture

10 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Tony Gardner

Taught: 1 Jul to 31 Aug View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications


Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Have you ever wondered how jokes work, why so many people find cats funny, or whether humour has the power to bring about political change? This module is about asking big, serious questions about the things that people laugh at. It will provide an introduction to some classic theories of humour, including those of Sigmund Freud, Henri Bergson and Mikhail Bakhtin, as well as some more recent feminist responses to these theories. You will watch extracts of comedy performance, including examples from stand-up comedy, television sit-com, satirical cabaret, and devised theatre. You will take part in group discussion and a practical workshop on joke writing. Comedy has long been considered an important part of British cultural life, but how have recent political upheavals changed the way people respond to jokes, and the people that tell them? And how is the internet affecting the way comedy is performed in everyday life? A trip to watch live comedy will give students the opportunity to reflect on these timely questions.


On completion of this module, students will:
- be able to demonstrate understanding of key theories, issues and techniques of comedy performance;
- be familiar with a range of examples of comedy performance, and be able to discuss these critically;
- have developed an understanding of key movements and trends in British comedy, as they relate to the social and cultural context of late 20th and early 21st century Britain.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
1 - the ability to describe and critically analyse their own responses to comic performances and texts;
2 - their capacity to understand and critically evaluate divergent theories of comedy and laughter;
3 - their understanding of the social, political and cultural contexts in which comic performances emerge.


Indicative syllabus:
• Classic Theories of Comedy
• Wordlessness: Slapstick, Clowning, Animals
• Stand-up: from the Working Men’s Club to Alternative Comedy
• Awkwardness and Boredom: the Workplace Sit-Com
• People Power: Satire and Popular Protest
• The Unfunny: Postmodern Theatre

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours15.00
Private study hours43.00
Total Contact hours42.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

15 hours preparatory VLE work before the module starts: this will include preparatory reading, listening and viewing of exemplars.
43 hours private study during module: this will include preparation for taught sessions (preparatory reading, listening and viewing of exemplars before each session), review of taught sessions (taking careful notes and organising notes; looking for points of interest and obvious gaps in order to raise questions within group discussions) and preparing for assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

200 word reflective blog post due towards the end of Week 1 will give opportunity to monitor progress toward reflective log.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PresentationGroup presentation, 10 minutes40.00
Reflective log800 – 900 words60.00
Written WorkReflective blog post (200 words)0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:24:23


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