Monash University panel to explore comedy’s impact on social change

Monash University

Well known Australian TV personality turned Monash Professor Steve Vizard will join fellow academics to investigate how comic performance can provide not just laughs, but a major platform for social commentary.

The panel discussion will provide an overview of their new project Comedy Country: Australian Performance Comedy as an Agent of Change, examining the evolution of comic performance and its dynamic interplay with Australian society, culture, and the creative industries from the aftermath of World War II to the present day.

Chief Investigator on the project, Professor Steve Vizard said the panel will explore how comedy has not only elicited laughter but has also contributed to inclusion and democratisation.

“We look at the role and limits of humour as a powerful expression of social values and moral codes. Culturally, comedy has become embroiled in debates over what is racist, what is sexist, what is offensive, who we can laugh at, what, when and why,” Professor Vizard said.

Lead Chief Investigator and Associate Professor of Communications & Media Studies Tony Moore said the project provides an important mechanism to understand how the nation’s rich tradition in comedy can be understood in a modern context.

“Since the 1950s comic performance has not merely reflected a changing Australia but has been a powerful democratising force that has helped shape Australian social, civic and cultural expression, identities and debates about national character,” Associate Professor Moore said.

The panel will also shed light on the rich contribution Indigenous, non Anglo-Celtic migrants and LGBTQI voices have made to decolonisation and diversity and how to address gaps in the way their stories have previously been omitted.

“A major field to be mainstreamed into the wider history of Australian comedy is Indigenous comedy performance and its political and cultural impact in areas like land rights, decolonisation, redress of injustices such as the Stolen Generations,” Associate Professor Moore said.

The panel discussion is a free event that will take place at Monash University’s Caulfield Campus on Monday 27 November from 4.00pm – 5.30pm.

/Public Release.