Miranda and Miranda: Comedy, Femininity and Performance

White, Rosie (2015) Miranda and Miranda: Comedy, Femininity and Performance. In: Twenty-First Century Feminism: Forming and Performing Femininity. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 119-139. ISBN 978-1-137-49284-5

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Abstract

The multi-award-winning actor and writer Miranda Hart has become a star of British comedy television, with roles in Smack the Pony (Channel 4 1999-2003), Nighty Night (BBC 2004-5), Hyperdrive (BBC 2006-7) and Not Going Out (BBC 2006 - ) before launching her hugely successful sitcom, Miranda (BBC 2009- ). This paper examines Miranda as an example of contemporary comedy stardom with reference to her onscreen personae. Miranda Hart’s self-named sitcom depicts an eccentric klutz who frequently addresses her audience, breaking the ‘fourth wall’ and apparently offering access to an autobiographically-inspired comedy script. Yet away from her ‘Miranda’ performance, Hart has asserted that little of the series is autobiographical, contradicting the intimate authenticity of her sitcom self. Hart also appears on panel gameshows and chat shows, in addition to her ‘straight’ role as Chummy Brown in Call the Midwife (BBC 2012 - ). In this paper I discuss the strategies and traditions which Hart’s work calls upon, looking back to Victoria Wood, Beryl Reid and Joyce Grenfell. In Frances Gray’s Women and Laughter she writes of the character comedy tradition in Britain and the States, proposing that it offers examples of ‘the female reconstruction of humour that is gaining momentum’ (1994: 160); yet Miranda has been attacked for its middle class, white worldview. Does Hart’s work continue a tradition of comedy by women which exposes the contradictory demands which heterofemininity makes upon real women or does it endorse heteronormativity by asserting the distinction between performer and performance?

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: television, comedy, feminism, femininity, class
Subjects: P300 Media studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Humanities
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Rosie White
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2015 10:35
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2016 15:03
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/21572

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