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Adjusting the ContrastBritish Television and Constructs of Race$
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Sarita Malik and Darrell M. Newton

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100986

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100986.001.0001

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Framing The Fosters: jokes, racism and Black and Asian voices in British comedy television

Framing The Fosters: jokes, racism and Black and Asian voices in British comedy television

(p.176) 8 Framing The Fosters: jokes, racism and Black and Asian voices in British comedy television
Adjusting the Contrast

Gavin Schaffer

Manchester University Press

This chapter interrogates the relationship between television comedy, power and racial politics in post-war Britain. In a period where Black and Asian Britons were forced to negotiate racism as a day-to-day reality, the essay questions the role played by television comedy in reflecting and shaping British multicultural society. Specifically, this chapter probes Black and Asian agency in comedy production, questioning who the joke makers were and what impact this had on the development of comedy and its reception. The work of scholars of Black and Asian comedy television such as Sarita Malik, and of Black stand-up comedy such as Stephen Small, has helped us to understand that Black- and Asian-led British comedy emerged belatedly in the 1980s and 1990s, hindered by the historical underrepresentation of these communities in British cultural production and the disinclination of British cultural leaders to address this problem. This chapter uses these scholarly frames of reference, alongside research that addresses the social and political functions of comedy, to re-open the social history of Black British communities in post-war Britain through the story of sitcom.

Keywords:   Negotiations of racism, comedy production, historical underrepresentation, cultural production, social history

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