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Issue Details: First known date: 2015... 2015 Talkin’ Blak : Humour in Indigenous Australian Theatre, 1970−2000
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This paper looks at the renaissance of Indigenous Australian theatrical performance, from the early 1970s to its prominence in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. It focuses on the specific ways that humour has been used by Indigenous Australian performing artists to highlight unpleasant social issues in their communities, such as poverty, alcohol abuse, and the removal/stealing of children from their families. In conjunction with witty repartee, visual comedy both in movement and mimicry is often used by Indigenous performers. Philosopher Henri Bergson, well-known for his contributions to humour studies, claims that the physical humour in inflexible, repetitive, or exaggerated movements is inherently funny. Bergson argues that rigidity of movements or “something mechanical encrusted on the living” makes comedians appear inhuman and, as a consequence, this makes people laugh. Contemporary philosopher and humour theorist Simon Critchley notes that the opposite is also true: We often find it funny when people give the impression of being all too human. For Critchley, the recognition of predictable behaviours is just as funny as any automated actions.' (129-130)


  • Epigraph:

    I am not really surprised that my Aboriginal background has been a great asset in theatre. The Nyoongah language was always full of humour and music. Theatre, in a bush area, is the very essence of an Aboriginal corroboree and performances there are often full of brilliant dance and mime.

    —Western Australian and Nyoongah playwright and poet, Jack Davis


Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Philament no. 20 February 2015 8324286 2015 periodical issue 2015 pg. 129-164
Last amended 17 Feb 2017 17:02:21
129-164 Talkin’ Blak : Humour in Indigenous Australian Theatre, 1970−2000small AustLit logo Philament
  • 1970-2000
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