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No laughing matter? Comedy soft spots, hard kernels and the epistemology of disability in The Red Chapel

Prout, Ryan ORCID: 2024. No laughing matter? Comedy soft spots, hard kernels and the epistemology of disability in The Red Chapel. Hartwig, Susanne, ed. Representaciones cómicas de la diversidad funcional: entre inclusión y exclusión, BWG Austria,

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The focus of this chapter is Mads Brügger’s The Red Chapel, a comedy documentary about North Korea made in 2009. The film uses disability humour to query human rights abuses and the status of people with functional diversity in a totalitarian regime. To contextualise the film’s approach, the chapter first establishes a picture of disability in North Korea using statistical and qualitative reports based on the testimony of defectors and on the work of a non-aligned aid worker. It also addresses the role of humour, and restrictions on comedy, in regimented and highly surveilled communist societies. The chapter proposes that the interactions between the visiting Danish theatrical troupe and a North Korean political aesthetic of hyper-able Stakhanovism produces an epistemology of disability farce. Using literature on crip humour and television sketch shows the chapter pays close attention to The Red Chapel’s inclusion of the reworking for a North Korean audience of Mrs Christoff, a celebrated Danish skit. It questions the innocence of representations of functional diversity in absurdist performance.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: In Press
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JZ International relations
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
Uncontrolled Keywords: The Red Chapel, Mads Brügger, Farce, Disability Humour, North Korea, Mrs Christoff
Publisher: BWG Austria
Funders: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Universität Passau
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2024 16:05

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