This article addresses the subject of stand-up and mental health through the prism of comic persona, generating new, non-diagnostic discourses around mental illness. The article focuses on British and Australian comedians whose material addresses conditions such as bipolar disorder (John Scott), depression and anxiety (Seymour Mace; Lauren Pattison; Felicity Ward), or feigns the staging of mental collapse (Stewart Lee). Based on the analysis of live events and one-on-one interviews, the essay considers the role that persona plays in mediating the relationship between the comedian and their material, arguing that shaping persona is key to developing practices framed within a poetics of vulnerability.


Vulnerability; Role; Comedy; Mental Health; Stigma; Performance

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