Comedy in Crisis Conference
Mixed Bill: Comedy and Gender Research Network
Birmingham City University, Birmingham UK, 14th and 15th January 2022
Call for papers
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, comedy (and social uses of humour) have become increasingly vital as a method of coping with adversity on both a local and global scale. Shared laughter can provide a temporary relief from the anxieties that continue to dominate a socially distanced existence, and thus bring people together whilst physically apart. In this context temporary humour communities have become increasingly significant. This conference will creatively explore how comedy (both in terms of content and industrial practices related to live and mediated forms) adapts and engages with times of crisis.
Although we anticipate a significant amount of discussion will look to recent events related to the pandemic, we also actively seek presentations engaging with wider conceptions of personal, social, political and environmental crises. We therefore invite abstracts for presentations, performances and creative responses on the following topics. Note our examples below are from a UK context, but please do not let that constrain your responses:
- Comic responses to times of crisis (current and historic) – e.g. community building/ satirical of responses to these periods of change. The rise of comic TikTok videos and ‘too soon’ backlash to some comic responses.
- Comedy industry responses to crisis – e.g. how have performers, promoters, festivals and venues nationally and internationally adapted to social distancing and isolation measures? How have methods of engaging with audiences evolved and have any approaches enabled wider access to comic performance (e.g. for those with disabilities)?
- Comedy and political crisis – e.g. Brexit and the impact on Northern Ireland, regional devolution and Scottish independence. Humanitarian crises such as those occurring in the Middle East.
- Comedy and the crises of the British Monarchy – e.g. responses to Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview, the death of Prince Philip, the racism faced by Meghan Markle etc.
- Comedy and BLM/ Comedy as a way to expose racism and bigotry at moments of crisis – e.g. comic responses to the toppling of the Colston Statue, release of the flawed and controversial Sewell Report etc.
- Comedy as part of public information communication efforts – e.g. campaigns around handwashing/ public health advice during the pandemic, refugee and climate crisis messaging.
- Humour as a coping mechanism – e.g. the humour of those groups who have been disproportionately impacted upon by the pandemic (NHS and care workers for example), performers who discuss personal experiences such grief, mental health crises or baby loss etc.
This interdisciplinary conference event aims to bring together academics, comedy industry practitioners and performers to explore these vital questions about how comedy responds to and adapts to times of crisis. We are particularly keen to include responses from under-represented groups and programme a mixture of traditional and experimental approaches to presenting (our previous events have involved performance papers, zine making, and drama activities so feel free to suggest an alternative or innovative method).
Deadline for proposals: 5th September 2021
Submissions and any questions: Mixedbill@gmail.com
Format: 500-word abstract and 200-word (max) biographical note. Please submit as a word document or PDF. If for accessibility reasons you would prefer to video record a short proposal that is also fine.
Timeline for responses: All those submitting will be notified regarding the outcome by 11th October 2021 and the conference will run Friday 14thand Saturday 15th January 2022 in a hybrid model.