Document Type


First Faculty Advisor

Day, Amber


stand-up (comedy); comedy; gender roles; culture; gender norms

Rights Management

CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


This paper examines the use of gender roles and norms in stand-up comedy, specifically in Western culture. Western culture has constructed social norms and ideas about gender through a binary way of thinking. Culturally constructed gender norms influence stereotypes and expectations for how people should act, think, or appear. Many within this culture become uncomfortable when those expectations are not met in either of the two binaries. Comedians have plenty of material to turn into humor when they focus on the ironies created when behavior, institutions, or ideas do not fit neatly into a binary. This will be exemplified through three comedians, Iliza Shlesinger, Ali Wong, and Chris D’Elia, who use material about gender in their stand-up performances. Iliza Shlesinger and Ali Wong use charged humor when delivering jokes that discuss gender roles. Chris D’Elia on the other hand uses self-labeled “silly humor” when discussing topics that relate to gender roles. The cultural context of the stand-up performances shows how the comedians either reinscribe or challenge stereotypes. In conclusion, this study shows that comedy is a platform where ideas about gender can be reaffirmed, contested, or rethought. Of the three comedians Ali Wong and Iliza Shlesinger use humor to consciously challenge gender norms and create an overall message that contests the social expectations about the gender binaries. Chris D’Elia reinforces gendered cultural norms in his style of comedy.