News: Comedy Snobbery Book Launched

Comedy And Distinction

To mark the publication of Comedy and Distinction: The Cultural Currency of a “Good” Sense of Humour, the London School Of Economics Sociology Department is holding a book launch. Author Dr Sam Friedman, Assistant Professor of Sociology at LSE and Consulting Editor of Edinburgh Festival Fringe magazine Fest, will begin with a short talk about the book and this will be followed by a panel discussion with three leading figures from the sociology of culture and the British comedy industry. Professor Mike Savage, from LSE Sociology, will discuss the role of comedy taste as a form of ‘emerging cultural capital’, Guardian comedy critic Brian Logan will reflect on the role of critics as comedy tastemakers and freelance comedy agent Lydia Hampson will discuss her work as a comedy scout.


The book takes a different view of contemporary comedy to the established narrative. Friedman asserts that academia has either ignored comedy or mainly analysed comedians or comic texts. This scholarship tends to assume that through analysing an artist’s intentions or techniques, we can somehow understand what is and what isn’t funny. But this poses a fundamental question – funny to whom? How can we definitively discern how audiences react to comedy? 

Comedy and Distinction shifts the focus to provide the first ever empirical examination of British comedy taste. Drawing on a large-scale survey and in-depth interviews carried out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the book explores what types of comedy people like (and dislike), what their preferences reveal about their sense of humour, how comedy taste lubricates everyday interaction, and how issues of social class, gender, ethnicity and geographical location interact with patterns of comic taste.

Friedman asks questions such as whether some types of comedy are valued higher than others in British society and whether more ‘legitimate’ comedy taste can act as a tangible resource in social life – a form of cultural capital? He also explores the role that humour plays in policing class boundaries in contemporary Britain.

The event takes place on Wednesday, November 12,  2014 from 6.30-8pm at the Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE, Aldwych, WC2.

Order Comedy and Distinction here.

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