On the Uses of Obscenity in Live Stand-Up Comedy

  title={On the Uses of Obscenity in Live Stand-Up Comedy},
  author={Susan Seizer},
  journal={Anthropological Quarterly},
  pages={209 - 234}
  • Susan Seizer
  • Published 2011
  • Sociology
  • Anthropological Quarterly
This essay explores the use of swear words in stand-up comedy. Employing examples from the performances of two comedians who work the Midwest regional comedy club circuit, I analyze the non-referential pragmatic functions served by employing the register of dirty words. I critique flat-footed readings of the comedic use of obscenity, including that which informs recent Supreme Court censorship rulings, and argue instead for recognition of the communicative artistry displayed in such work. 
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