Students in an Emerson College comedy troupe — one of many — perform on campus.
A panel discussion on Comedy and Campus Culture will explore political correctness in comedy on Friday, November 13.
The discussion is the first in a new series of comedy-related events, held in connection with Emerson College’s new Comedic Arts major. Experts from Emerson, Boston College, Boston University, and Brandeis University, as well as students, writers, and stand-up comics, will explore whether comedy can survive the new age of political correctness, and if it is possible to be a successful comedian without offending anyone.
“This subject is at the center of a national debate right now,” said Martie Cook, director of the Comedic Arts major. “It’s incredibly relevant and hugely important to anyone and everyone in the field of comedy. The future of comedy depends on the outcome of this debate and where people eventually land.”
Corey Rodrigues, stand-up comic, will join the discussion at Emerson College.
Working closely with Associate Professor and Interim Dean of the School of the Arts Department of Visual & Media Arts Robert Sabal and with significant input from the Comedy Committee, which is comprised of faculty members from Visual and Media Arts, Performing Arts, and Writing, Literature, and Publishing, Cook sought out panelists who would represent both sides of the debate.
Emerson Senior Scholar-in-Residence in Visual and Media Arts Ken Feil, who teaches the Evolution of Comedy and has written extensively about the topic, will moderate and lead the discussion with student moderator Nick Holmes ’16, a comedy minor. The panelists are: Paul Lewis, Boston College, professor of English and American Studies; Michael Loman, Boston University, professor of Television; Sascha Cohen, PhD Candidate (ABD), Brandeis University; Magda Romanska, Emerson College, associate professor of Theatre and Dramaturgy; Corey Rodrigues, stand-up comic; and Sierra Katow, student comic, Harvard University.
Cook hopes that students gain a new perspective on comedy. “As someone who has written comedy and who teaches comedy writing, I hope that students will walk away knowing that when it comes to comedy, it’s still alright to be bold and daring, to take chances, and yes, to even be offensive sometimes,” notes Cook. “Often some of the best comedy is meant to be offensive—and that’s okay, because that’s what’s going to get people talking. If comedy can open the door for us to have those difficult conversations, I am all for it. Bring it on!”
Sabal hopes the panel brings a better understanding of the complexity of how comedy can unite and divide people. “There are lots of perspectives on it and lots of different ways of thinking about it and that’s what we do at a college or university is we try to ask interesting questions to develop broader understanding of topics instead of just being committed to a particular position,” said Sabal.
The panel discussion “Comedy and Campus Culture” takes place on Friday, November 13, from 2:00–4:00 pm at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, Paramount Center.