Jonathan ErvineFeb 10, 2023
Humour in Contemporary France
Controversy, Consensus and Contradictions
Liverpool University Press 2019
Thinking through serious questions about racial, ethnic, and religious difference, Jonathan Ervine’s Humour in Contemporary France: Controversy, Consensus and Contradictions (Liverpool University Press, 2019) traces the ways that comedy pulls communities apart and brings them together in the French context. Ervine began the research for this project in advance of the fatal Charlie Hebdo shootings of 2015. The book he published four years later starts with an analysis of the intense debates about humour and freedom of the press that proliferated in the wake of these violent and tragic events.
Situating Charlie Hebdo within the context of French humour more broadly, and turning to stand-up/sketch comedy in particular, Ervine’s remaining three case studies approach issues of universalism, cultural and political conflict using a range of examples. Focused on the provocations of the Black comedian Dieudonné, the Jamel Comedy Club, and the television series A part ça tout vie bien, the book examines: antiracism and antisemitism, minority comedians, urban culture, the legacies of immigration, and the complex relationship between Islam and comedy in contemporary France. Considering the possibilities and politics of multiculturalism in and through comedy, the book is a vital source for readers interested in what does and doesn’t make different French people laugh, and why.