A Citizen's Guides to Democracy Inaction: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Comic Rhetorical Criticism

Southern Communication Journal, 74(2), 119-140, 2009.

23 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2020

See all articles by Don Waisanen

Don Waisanen

City University of New York - School of Public Affairs

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

This essay examines the discourse of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, two of the most prominent political comedians in America. Kenneth Burke's theories of perspective by incongruity and the comic frame provide a general structure for surveying Stewart and Colbert's comic strategies on their nightly television shows, and their roles across various media events. Stewart and Colbert use three rhetorical strategies, in particular, to critically reframe American political discourses: (a) parodic polyglossia; (b) satirical specificity; and (c) contextual clash. By illustrating how these strategies of incongruity are employed, this essay demonstrates that Stewart and Colbert are comic rhetorical critics, who both make important contributions to public discourse and civil society.

Suggested Citation

Waisanen, Don, A Citizen's Guides to Democracy Inaction: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Comic Rhetorical Criticism (2009). Southern Communication Journal, 74(2), 119-140, 2009., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2536973

Don Waisanen (Contact Author)

City University of New York - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Baruch College, One Bernard Baruch Way
Box D901
New York, NY 10010
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.donwaisanen.com

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