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Words to Make you Laugh?: Performing the Public in Guadeloupean Comedy Sketches

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Abstract

Guadeloupean comedy sketches in Kréyòl, live and on DVD, feature stock characters taken from the city streets, rum shops and small neighborhoods of the island. Through their depictions, actors in Kréyòl comedy sketches position different Guadeloupean “types” into an imagined social landscape that spans the island, the Caribbean and the mainland, including much of the social complexity of the island. This paper considers how creole comedy constructs a particular vision of the Guadeloupean public. In this overseas department of France, artists dedicate a considerable amount of time and energy to imagining and reclaiming what it means to be Guadeloupean. I explore how comedy sketches elaborate and circulate social and linguistic stereotypes and how Kréyòl comedy offers commentary and presents stances on Guadeloupean society and the issues the community faces, such as high unemployment, assimilation into France and the impacts of globalization. [publics, comedy, performance, Guadeloupe, stereotypes]

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