Giving voice to the studio audience

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The current paper explores this vital role of studio audience during the introductory stand-up performance of Conan O’Brien, host of the late night US talk show CONAN. Unlike live stand-up audiences, studio audiences occupy a unique space, especially in terms of the participation framework. Their participation lies somewhere between the participants on stage and the television audience at home, and up until now the exact nature of their participation has not been addressed in terms of the participation framework. Specifically, this paper argues that: (1) the studio audience’s role is not static, but dynamic and (2) this dynamicity and the audience’s ability to be both part of the humorous speech event (responder, addressee, third party), as well as ratified observers of it (recipients) assists with the creation and appreciation of Conan’s humor. Finally, it proposes an additional speaker designation (responder) which proves vital to the discursive basis of humor in Conan O’Brien’s introductory stand-up routine.


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