Mock the Weak – the serious business of controversial comedy in the spotlight

FROM Charlie Hebdo to Ricky Gervais, the nature of taboo comedy is to be discussed at an international conference this month.

The ‘Mock the Weak: Comedy and the Politics of Representation’ conference will feature leading academics and comedians from a range of disciplines.

A round table discussion will include leaders in the field of comedy including feminist comedian Kate Smurthwaite, Matthew Greenhough, the writer of Bismillah: an ISIS tragicomedy together with Claire Parker, the project leader for the Trans Comedy Award, as well as representatives from national organisations including the British Blacklist and Funny Women.

The three day conference, which takes place from 13 to 15 September at Teesside University’s Darlington campus and Stockton Arc arts centre, will also feature comedy performances and workshops alongside the academic programme.

The conference will also feature a performance by Teesside University students of the play NSFW, as well as a writing workshop with BBC Radio 4 comedy writer Eddie Robson and an evening of stand-up comedy with comedian and disability rights campaigner Laurence Clark.

The panels and keynote speakers will look at a range of topics that affect comedy including disability, religion, race and freedom of speech and censorship.

The conference has been organised by Dr Helen Davies and Dr Sarah Ilott from Teesside University’s School of Arts & Media, pictured above.

Dr Davies said: “Comedy is an extremely powerful tool which can both challenge accepted thinking and entrench it.

“It can give a voice to taboo subjects and provide a platform for those who might not ordinarily have one.

“However, recently there has been an increased focus on whether there are some jokes that should not be told.”

Dr Ilott added: “At this conference we have brought together a range of contributors from a variety of disciplines who can provide a fascinating insight into representation in comedy.

“It will be a chance for a fantastic discussion on the power dynamics of comedy, particularly in relation to the representation of minority groups.”

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For more details about the Mock the Weak conference click here or follow @MockTheWeak2016 on Twitter.

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