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How voice matters : identity and the representation of gender and race on 'late night' television political comedy shows Kav, Anusha Bhagavathy


This research assesses the influence of identity in late-night political comedy. Academic literature on the subject of political satire does not yet explore the significance of hosts or comedians’ identity as an influential factor in the comedy they produce. Through analyzing how the gender identity of Samantha Bee and the racial identity of Hasan Minhaj influence the way they approach late-night political comedy, I showcase the importance of the host or comedians’ identity characteristics and personal perspective in determining the way they frame a particular issue to the audience. Using a qualitative discourse analysis and John Oliver as a comparative case study, this research looks at what discourses and narratives are legitimized and reinforced by each comedian in their coverage of issues pertaining to their identities of gender and race respectively. For Minhaj, his identity as a Muslim of Indian descent influences his comedy through references made about South Asian culture and being a Muslim in India. For Bee, a key target of her comedy is a female audience. This research aims to contribute to this gap in existing literature, arguing that while each comedian’s coverage covered a range of humour styles, Minhaj and Bee focus their attention on audiences who reflect communities that they are a part of, ultimately providing a more nuanced critique than that offered by that of a comedian not directly affected by the issue being covered on the late-night political show.

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