Palestinian stand-up comedy: Making and breaking myths under occupation

Conference paper


Beale, S. 2023. Palestinian stand-up comedy: Making and breaking myths under occupation. International Federation for Theatre Research Annual Conference 2023. Accra, Ghana 24 - 28 Jul 2023
TypeConference paper
TitlePalestinian stand-up comedy: Making and breaking myths under occupation
AuthorsBeale, S.
Abstract

This paper explores the potential and limits of Palestinian stand-up comedy as autobiographical and collective storytelling, reflecting on a collaborative performance project in the region, May-August 2022. Six Palestinian performers and a UK academic/director worked together to devise a 90-minute ensemble comedy show which toured six cities and facilitated comedy workshops for Palestinians, including in women's centres and refugee camps.
The paper considers the potency of stand-up comedy as individual and shared storytelling in this context and its impacts on performers, audiences, and workshop participants. The blend of UK/US stand-up approaches with traditional Palestinian storytelling techniques resulted in the evolution of a collective and particularly Palestinian comic performance style. A priority for the performers, as they established their comic voices and devised material about often difficult subjects as comedy, was a shared desire to dismantle limiting perceptions of Palestinians and prevalent myths – emerging from both within and outside the region – about their lives under occupation. This resulted in a combination of autobiographical stand-up and collective comedy performances tackling everyday social, religious, and political realities and imagining possible Palestinian futures.
Given the limits on Palestinians’ freedom of movement, touring the show enabled these comedians to share their stories with audiences who are often unfamiliar with each other’s situations and have little experience of stand-up comedy as a form of entertainment. Issues of censorship and self-censorship which arose in some cities and the mixed range of audience responses to the comedy and the comedians are also considered.

Keywordsstand-up comedy; Palestine; storytelling; socially-engaged comedy
Sustainable Development Goals10 Reduced inequalities
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceInternational Federation for Theatre Research Annual Conference 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted30 Jun 2023
Deposited13 Oct 2023
Output statusAccepted
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