Musical Comedy: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

sjhThis post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

Every Halloween season, I start hearing “I Put a Spell On You” (1956) by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in stores and on the radio. What was once a song that genuinely scared White Americans has now become a child-oriented novelty. Ellis (2008, 58) [see Quote Library] describes the initial recording process. Intended as a blues ballad, “on the playback it appeared that someone had put a spell on the recording session.

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Musical Comedy: Ohio Players

This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

The Ohio Players were one of the great funk bands of the 1970s [see Week 5]. I would not classify funk as an inherently comedic form, but it incorporates humor as part of its aesthetic of fun, joy, dance, eccentricity, and celebration. This live performance of “Fire” (on the TV series Midnight Special in 1975) uses a great deal of musical comedy (particularly in the last minute – it’s worth watching the whole thing).

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Comic: Miley Cyrus and My Dissertation

While many, many people have weighed in on Miley Cyrus’ performance at last week’s MTV VMA, I wanted to use the incident to illustrate some of the concepts that I am thinking about with my dissertation. Once I read the quote from Big Freedia, I started making more connections between the performance and my dissertation. The comic format gives me a freedom to creatively explore ideas in ways that are impossible in a traditional word processor.

Comic: In the Mood


I chose to use comics to represent my interview transcriptions because I realized that while interviewing is an incredibly dynamic, exciting process, reading long passages of interview transcriptions is not. About two sentences in, your brain is ready to skip ahead. I wanted to illustrate the complexity of my informants’ stories while still protecting their anonymity. This format allowed me to do both.

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