Sitcom humour as ventriloquism

Messerli, Thomas C.. (2017) Sitcom humour as ventriloquism. Lingua, 197. pp. 16-33.

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Ventriloquism has been used as a source domain to conceptualise a range of different aspects of discourse, meaning-making and understanding, and in view on a communicative constitution of reality even as a model for communication at large. In Telecinematic Discourse (TCD), the language of fictional film and television, the notion that characters onscreen speak on behalf of someone or something else is a particularly tangible representation of the duality of communicative levels by which TCD is usually characterised. Moreover, canonical understanding of ventriloquism, as well as the employment of the same term in neuroscience, film studies and narrative theory point to additional understandings of ventriloquism that are relevant for the understanding not just of TCD, but also for humour therein. This paper brings together such different views of ventriloquist effects and uses examples from sitcoms to demonstrate how ventriloquism can be used as an alternative to the traditional spatial understanding of the communicative setting of TCD. These examples originate from Anger Management and Two and a Half Men, which are regarded here as two connected acts of ventriloquism, staged by actor Charlie Sheen and producer Chuck Lorre as part of their public feud in 2011. Analysing these scenes through the lens of ventriloquism provides a dynamic view of agency and an understanding of the television audience as active viewers who infer ventriloquists based on the dummy actions encoded in the multimodal text surface.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > English Linguistics (Locher)
UniBasel Contributors:Messerli, Thomas C.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:23 Feb 2021 10:41
Deposited On:05 Jul 2018 14:44

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