A methodology of laughter or how to research fading expressions

Proceedings of The 6th World Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities

Year: 2023



A methodology of laughter or how to research fading expressions

Joana Solipa Batista



This paper aims to discuss the methodology of a research focused on the production and reception of humour, in the context of the stand-up comedy format. The investigation is taking place in Lisbon (Portugal), through an ethnographic approach, articulating different methodological procedures such as archive, participant and non-participant observation, and case study. The objectives are to theoretically frame humour and the stand-up format, contextualizing its arrival in Portugal; understand the dynamics between stand-up comedian and audience; and explore how the different contexts of production and dissemination of humour influence the reception. This contribution intends to reflect on the need for flexible methods and reflexivity in research. In the social sciences and qualitative research, the relational is fundamental and researchers’ personality, emotionality, corporality also inhabits the field and sets the tone for research decisions and knowledge production. It should be a requirement to explicit the process and reflect on the ethical implications of those social relations and on how they promote deviations from project to implementation. This reflection will focus on two reconfigurations implemented during fieldwork: 1) the direct participation, performing in stand-up comedy nights; and 2) the reconceptualization of research dimensions and hypothesis from the political and social intervention of humour in matters of political correctness and freedom of expression to comedians’ motivations, the way of doing and writing stand-up, the topics addressed and the reception.

keywords: laughter, stand-up comedy, ethnography, methodology, flexibility