The Consumption of Comedy Festivals

Dr Elspeth Frew
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Within society, humour and comedy have many roles to play, from easing tension in awkward social situations, to generating positive physical and psychological benefits such as increased circulation in the body and, a sense of well-being. This paper considers the role that comedy, in the form of comedy festivals, has on society. As the content of comedy festivals often reflects popular culture, comedy is a relatively accessible art form to the local population compared with other performing arts, such as dance and opera. Therefore, local community involvement in the creation and consumption of comedy is relatively straightforward.

Comedy festivals contain a range of comedy genres ranging from stand-up to comedic theatre, to comedic visual arts, cabaret, burlesque and children’s comedy. As a result, all sections of the community have the opportunity to find a form of comedy which appeals to their individual sense of humour. Edinburgh, Melbourne and Montreal host large and long running comedy festivals. In 2005, the 59th annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe hosted 412 comedy shows (representing 23% of all types of performances). At the 19th annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival 212 comedy shows were staged and, at the 21st annual Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, Montreal there were 110 comedy shows. The size and longevity of these comedy festivals suggests that comedy is a popular art form among locals and visitors alike and one which can have many benefits on society. The paper reports on focus groups conducted with visitors to the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The tourists were asked about their motivation to travel and their experiences while at the festival. The paper reflects on the role that comedy festivals can play in society and, considers the need by organisers to recognise the benefits of comedy festivals to tourists and, to the hosting community.

Keywords: Comedy Festival, Comedy, Tourist, Motivation
Stream: Festivals
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Consumption of Comedy Festivals, The

Dr Elspeth Frew

Lecturer in Tourism Management, School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, La Trobe University

Dr Elspeth Frew is a lecturer in tourism management at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. Dr Frew began her career in academia in 1991 and has been employed as a lecturer at three Australian universities namely, Monash University, Victoria University and currently, La Trobe University. She has had her research published as refereed journal articles and refereed conference papers. Elspeth's research interest is in cultural tourism with a particular focus on festival and attraction management, industrial tourism and personality and tourism. At present, she is the Undergraduate Programs Coordinator in the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management at La Trobe University.

Ref: A06P0070