Laughter is a complicated and highly sensitive human activity, implying ambivalent elements, such as spontaneity and performativity, innocence and tactics. It can elicit simply cheerful ambience but also facilitate powerful victimisation by provoking embarrassment of the target. Humoristic discourses are often heavily culture-specific in terms of the text and the situation wherein they are expressed. This is particularly true with Japanese humour, due to the insular and circumstantial nature of the language (e.g., Toyama, 1976) and the way communicative protocols are executed.
This paper will examine manzai (Japanese stand-up comedy) and explore Japanese laughter, paying a particular attention to their performativity. Our discussions include the essential characteristics of laughter and humour and their social-cultural and psychological background (Benedict, 1946; Hibbett, 1998-2005; Kawai, 2005, Kitayama, 1993; Kotthoff, 1996; Norrick, 1993, 2001, 2004; Oda, 1986; Raskin, 1985; Sakuta, 1967; Schmitz, 2002; Umehara, 1972). Our hypothesis is that Japanese comical discourses are highly performative and staged, either physically or imaginably, installing the readers/audiences in a voyeuristic perspective, often as an accomplice of one of the participants of the humoristic performance.
|Keywords:||Laughter, Humor, Performativity, Manzai, Manga, Anime, Japanese Language and Culture|
Senior Lecturer, Head of Department of Asian Studies, Division of Humanities, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Associate Lecturer, Department of Asian Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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