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It only laughs when I hurt: How stand-up comedy helps explore topics of health and inequality

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The comedy of Wanda Sykes has targeted issues of social justice for many years. Her jokes have often been used to address important issues like race and sex. In her 2006 comedy special "Wanda Sykes: I'm Tired of Getting on My Knees," she talked about her experiences as a Black woman in America, and how she had to deal with racism and sexism on a daily basis. She also spoke about her views on abortion, gun control, and same-sex marriage.

In her 2016 comedy special "Not Normal," Sykes talked about the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the importance of speaking out against racism. She also spoke about her own experiences with racism, and how it has shaped her life.

Chris Rock has used his comedy to address a wide range of social issues, including poverty, sexism, and homophobia. In his 2016 comedy special "Tambourine," he talked about the #MeToo movement and the importance of believing women.

Trevor Noah, the former host of The Daily Show, has used his platform to address a variety of social issues, including immigration, race relations, and gun violence. In his 2018 book Born a Crime, he wrote about growing up mixed-race in South Africa under apartheid.

Stand-up comedy has a long and complicated history with the public discussion about race relations, poverty, sexual violence, and stigma. On the one hand, stand-up comedians have often been at the forefront of challenging these issues, using their jokes to shine a light on the dark corners of society and to make people laugh at things that they might otherwise find uncomfortable or upsetting. On the other hand, stand-up comedy has also been criticized for reinforcing stereotypes and for trivializing serious issues.

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the power of stand-up comedy to address social issues. Comedians frequently use their platforms to speak out about racism, police brutality, and other forms of injustice. These comedians have shown that stand-up can be a powerful tool for social change, and they have inspired other comedians to use their art to address important issues.

However, there is still a debate about the role of stand-up comedy in the public discussion about social issues. Some people argue that comedians should avoid making jokes about sensitive topics, as this can perpetuate stereotypes and make it difficult to have a productive conversation about these issues. Others argue that comedians have a responsibility to use their platform to speak out about injustice, even if it means making people uncomfortable.

Guest: Sean Matthew Viña, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of sociology at The University of the Incarnate Word. His book is Health and Inequality in Standup Comedy: Stories that Challenge Stigma

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*This interview will be recorded on Monday, July 24.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi