Black Feminist Comedy in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century United States
by Katelyn Hale Wood
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 01 Jun 2021 | Archive Date 01 Jun 2021
University of Iowa Press, University Of Iowa Press
Performing Arts / Women's Studies / African American Studies
Cracking Up archives and analyzes Black feminist stand-up comedy in the United States over the past sixty years. Looking closely at the work of Jackie “Moms” Mabley, Mo’Nique, Wanda Sykes, Sasheer Zamata, Sam Jay, Phoebe Robinson, Jessica Williams, Amanda Seales, and Michelle Buteau, this book shows how Black feminist comedy and the laughter it ignites are vital components of feminist, queer, and anti-racist protest.
Katelyn Hale Wood interprets these artists not as tokens in a white, male-dominated field, but as part of a continuous history of Black feminist performance and presence. Broadly, Cracking Up frames stand-up comedy as an important platform from which to examine citizenship in the United States, articulate Black feminist political thought, and subvert structures of power. Wood also champions comedic performance and theatre history as imperative contexts for advancing historical studies of race, gender, and sexuality. From the comedy routines popular on Black vaudeville circuits to stand-up on contemporary social media platforms, Cracking Up excavates an overlooked history of Black women who have made the art of joke-telling a key part of radical performance and political engagement.
“Cracking Up is a timely and beautifully written book that boldly centers Black queer feminist subjectivity within the stand-up comedy tradition. By situating Black/queer feminist comedians as intellectuals, activists, and Black cultural producers in their own right, Katelyn Hale Wood captures a long-overdue chapter in Black women’s history and culture.”—La Donna L. Forsgren, author, Sistuhs in the Struggle: An Oral History of Black Arts Movement Theatre and Performance
Average rating from 6 members
Thanks to NetGalley, University of Iowa Press and Katelyn Hale Wood for an ARC of this engaging book in exchange for an honest book review. I didn’t, know what to expect when I started reading this book but I was intrigued by the description. I recalled seeing Moms Mabley on television when I was young and remember that she was not only funny but different than what I was accustomed to. Not because she was black but because she was a woman and one that was not glamorous. Her frumpy hat, house dress, deep voiced delivery. toothless smile and picture perfect storytelling was infectious. Katelyn Hale Wood brings “Moms” and other talented comedians such as Wanda Sykes, Phoebe Robinson and Mo’Nique (to name a few) to center stage as she explores the world of Black women’s history. The Black feminist brings a combination of intellect, culture, activism and queerness to their performance. Theirs is a story of survival in this white male dominated entertainment sector. It is a story of strength, determination and one that it told with tenderness and moving content. These wonderfully talented women are champions as is Katelyn Hale Wood for telling a well deserved and ‘needed to be told’ chapter.
NetGalley ARC Educator 550974 Well written expose on BIPOC female comedians. It gives glimpse of Wanda Sykes, Amanda Seales, Whoopi and a full analysis of Mom's life and comedy. You will learn about the challenges women of color face in a male driven world and they way they confront the isms of life. In some ways it reads like a dissertation., in others, like a recounting of an awesome night at the theater.