Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Handi-/Cappin' Slaves and Laughter by the Dozens

Divine Dismemberment and Disability Humor in the US

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2013), 7, (3), 289–304.

Abstract

The article claims that insofar as "the dozens" or "capping" - black combative humor - arose out of slavery and its prohibition against fighting (which threatened "property damage"), it is fundamentally a humor of disability. Because of this more or less unique form of comedic creation and conditioning, not all contemporary American humor that deploys disability demeans it. Rather, some such humor deploys disability in remedial, considerably redemptive ways, demonstrable through black folklore and literary texts. Such texts illuminate the peculiar form of American comedy as a practice in tragic "extravagance," one substantially born of its own extravagant source in racial bondage.

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Chappelle, Dave. "Black KKK." Chappelle's Show. Comedy Central. 22 Jan. 2003. Web. 20 May 2013. Black KKK Chappelle's Show. Google Scholar

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Ellison, Ralph. "An Extravagance of Laughter." The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison. Ed. John F. Callahan. New York: Modern Library, 1995. Print. The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison Google Scholar

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage, 1995. Print. Invisible Man Google Scholar

Ellison, Ralph. Three Days before the Shooting. New York: Modern Library, 2010. Print. Three Days before the Shooting Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Print. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature Google Scholar

Graham, Maryemma, and Amritjit Singh. Conversations with Ralph Ellison. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1995. Print. Conversations with Ralph Ellison Google Scholar

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print. The Odyssey Google Scholar

Levine, Lawrence W. Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom. New York: Oxford UP, 1977. Print. Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom Google Scholar

Mallett, Rebecca. "Claiming Comedic Immunity Or, What Do You Get When You Cross Contemporary British Comedy with Disability?" The Review of Disability Studies 6.3 (2010): 5-13. Print. Claiming Comedic Immunity Or, What Do You Get When You Cross Contemporary British Comedy with Disability? The Review of Disability Studies 6 5 13 Google Scholar

Morreall, John. "Humour and the Conduct of Politics." Beyond the Joke: The Ethics of Humour. Ed. Sharon Lockyer and Michael Pickering. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 65-80. Print. Beyond the Joke: The Ethics of Humour 65 80 Google Scholar

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Vintage, 2004. Print. Song of Solomon Google Scholar

Plato. The Symposium. Trans. Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989. Print. The Symposium Google Scholar

Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo. New York: Scribner, 1972. Print. Mumbo Jumbo Google Scholar

Reed, Ishmael. New and Collected Poems: 1964-2007. New York: Thunder's Mouth P, 2007. Print. New and Collected Poems: 1964-2007 Google Scholar

Saloy, Mona Lisa. "African American Oral Traditions in Louisiana." Folklife in Louisiana. Maida Edwards, curator. State of Louisiana, Dept. of Culture, Trade, and Tourism. 9 May 2012. Web. 20 May 2013. African American Oral Traditions in Louisiana Folklife in Louisiana. Google Scholar

Twain, Mark. The Complete Essays of Mark Twain. Ed. Charles Neider. New York: Da Capo P, 2000. Print. The Complete Essays of Mark Twain Google Scholar

Wiggins, William H., Jr. "The Structure and Dynamics of Folklore in the Novel Form: The Case of John O. Killens." Keystone Folklore Quarterly 17.3 (1972): 92-117. Print. The Structure and Dynamics of Folklore in the Novel Form: The Case of John O. Killens Keystone Folklore Quarterly 17 92 117 Google Scholar

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Smith, Darryl