Role of stand-up comedy explored

Lakeland Assistant Professor of Communication Casey R. Schmitt, of Plymouth, is coeditor of a new book that explores how stand-up comedy has recently produced some of America’s most influential and celebrated oratory.

“Standing Up, Speaking Out: Stand-Up Comedy and the Rhetoric of Social Change” is coedited by Schmitt and Matthew R. Meier.

It brings together rhetorical, cultural and humor studies perspectives to provide a unique exploration of stand-up comedy, including the impact of comedians Lenny Bruce, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, Margaret Cho and Eddie Izzard.

It argues for the capacity that stand-up comedy has to cre- ate social change, and attempts to draw attention to a series of otherwise unrecognized orators who have made significant contributions to public culture through comedy.

“This collection is an attempt to further cultivate the growing conversation about stand-up comedy from the perspective of the rhetorical tradition,” Schmitt said. “Even though comedy and satire have been addressed by rhetorical scholarship in recent decades, little attention has been paid to stand-up.”

The book, published by Routledge, is available for purchase/ download at

Schmitt, who is in his second year of teaching rhetoric and communication at Lakeland, is the author of 16 peer-reviewed articles and chapters. He earned his Ph.D. in communication arts with a focus in rhetoric, politics and culture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015.

He recently led a ThinkHaus talk for Lakeland where he provided tips to help audience members cut through political rhetoric – in a nonpartisan way – to understand what the candidates are really saying and what they, as an audience, can do to more critically analyze the 2016 political debates.

Outside of research and teaching, Schmitt is a frequent writer and editor, having served in editorial positions for several academic journals, including Frontiers in Communications, New Directions in Folklore, the Oral History Review and Western Folklore.

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