Stand-Up Comedy, Social Critique and Rethinking the Origins of American Studies

  • Michelle Robinson University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Keywords: stand-up comedy, humor, Mort Sahl, Moms Mabley, Richard Pryor


This essay considers a range of ways scholars reflect on the origins and institutionalization of the field of American studies in the post-World War II era. Drawing on examples from the comedy of Mort Sahl, Moms "Jackie" Mabley, and Richard Pryor, this essay argues that post-war stand-up comedy supplies an aesthetics and an ethics that can open up new and productive ways of engaging critically with the origins of the field.

Author Biography

Michelle Robinson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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