This research is an unlearning journey, particularly in the process of knowing-being. In this study, with the help of Motta’s (2018) storytelling approach, I analysed both, the opportunities and limitations of stand-up comedy in contemporary Indonesian politics beyond its entertainment purpose. During fieldwork, I worked closely with 16 participants from the standup community at Universitas Gadjah Mada (University of Gadjah Mada), Yogyakarta to understand their testimonies and experiences of the show Juru Bicara (Spokesperson) by wellknown stand-up comedian, Pandji Pragiwaksono. The findings point at stand-up comedy possibilities in acknowledging the diversity of knowledge and contesting official Indonesian government stories of historical and present-day marginalisation and human rights violations. Furthermore, the fieldwork results suggests that the showcase has a chance to be an alternative experiential learning medium to publicly open a conversation about complicated, taboo, sensitive, unspoken topics in a casual way with relatively privileged target audiences. At this point, stand-up comedy is a pedagogical platform to access new alternative stories in the process of knowing. However, since both the comedian and the audience position themselves as separate from the marginalised, stand-up comedy as an interactional event appears to be an ambiguous space that reproduces the hierarchical boundary between the privileged (us) and the oppressed (them). Therefore, this medium is limited to only nurturing sympathy/ empathy as the result of the ‘process of knowing’ but seems not to automatically foster solidarity and advance social movement or political organisation as the expression of becoming political or more politicised—the ‘process of being’.

, , , , ,
Icaza Garza, Rosalba
Social Justice Perspectives (SJP)
International Institute of Social Studies

Ma'rifatullah, Wening Hapsari. (2021, December 17). Uncomfortable laugh: understanding the role of stand-up comedy from a storytelling approach. Social Justice Perspectives (SJP). Retrieved from