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

Michelle Robinson


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.


stand-up comedy; humor; Mort Sahl; Moms Mabley; Richard Pryor


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