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Disciplining the Carnivalesque: Chris Farley's Exotic Dance

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Abstract:

The comedian Chris Farley routinely performed a carnivalesque humor. This essay considers his appearances on Saturday Night Live as a critical site for understanding a dominant practice of transforming the carnival-grotesque (a positive force, according to Mikhail Bakhtin) into a burlesque (a negative aesthetic expression, according to Kenneth Burke). Particular attention is paid to a skit in which Farley performs an exotic dance, which serves as a model for this problematic endeavor. Aligned with Bakhtin's concept of reduced laughter, this essay further considers media coverage of Farley's death as a symptomatic extension and completion of this disciplinary practice.

Keywords: Bakhtin; Burke; Burlesque; Carnivalesque; Farley; Grotesque; Reduced Laughter

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420600841435

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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