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Laugh Now, Cry Later

by Ithalia Price, MVA 2020


Stand-up comedy can be a difficult industry to navigate when confronting socially sensitive topics as a woman of color, but in the midst of the movement, it is important to be heard. This study is an exercise in native ethnography as the director is a Chicana, stand-up comedian in Los Angeles exploring “charged humor”, a genre of humor that fuels audiences to address their awareness or experiences of social inequalities and offering solutions by presenting examples of “feeling like a second-class citizen” in storytelling or joke form. Investigating why comediennes harness humor from pain, the film asks the question: to what extent do race, gender, and intersectional politics and positionality inform the creative processes of women of color humorists. Through the lens of comediennes Angelica Mackey, Candice Thompson, and Karina Assad, we follow the creation of charged jokes and their origin stories. Seeing that comedians have an observational understanding of culture in order to craft funny material, their ethnographic sensibilities help capture the process of comedy writing, the joking relationship between performer and audience, and the healing that comes with releasing life experiences through live performance.


Running time: 30 minutes

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