Academic Absurdity of the Week: “Designated Unfunniness”?

I dare you: take in the first sentence of this abstract appearing in the academic journal Comedy Studies (because of course there is such a journal) and just try to keep a straight face:

Pretty funny: Manifesting a normatively sexy female comic body

Hannah Ballou


This article proposes that the heteronormatively sexy female comic body can derive or enhance its comic proposal via the incongruity of its designated unfunniness. Performances by practitioners Ursula Martinez, Olivia Côte, Tig Notaro, and Olivia Lee are analysed in order to illuminate and confound potentially heteronormative conceptions of humour and the comic body. The potentiality of a ‘sexy scatology’ is revealed.

The first thing that comes to mind is the classic answer to the question, “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “That’s not funny!” “Designated unfunniness” would seem to be a credo for the whole enterprise, no?

And “sexy scatology”?? Does this refer to a particular scene from Team America, World Police? Seems to me a future issue of Comedy Studies should explore this further.


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