Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Professional Communication

Committee Chair/Advisor

Barnett, Scot

Committee Member

Haynes, Cynthia

Committee Member

Holmevik, Jan


This thesis conducts an examination of the writing methods used by stand-up comedians using the lens of the rhetorical canon of invention. The study applies the theories of Thomas Rickert, Diane Davis, Ann Berthoff, and Janice Lauer in order to define the relationship between humor and epistemology, and to consider how this comedic-epistemic perspective can inform pedagogical practices in the composition classroom. This study relies mainly on the rhetorical analysis of 'How To' books on writing comedy, the methodologies of schools of comedy, as well as biographies by/about comedians in order to discuss the relationship between comedians and their 'material.' The research also focuses primarily on stand-up comedy as a middle ground between the organized chaos of improvisation and the written calcification of sketch comedy. The findings of this research point to the productive capacity of laughter to physically and epistemologically exceed our will to conceive of the world, and ourselves, through a rational, controllable set of processes.



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