Fielding hilarity: sensing the affective intensities of comedy education and performance

This article explores the affective dimensions of comedy education and performance through workshops with undergraduate acting students in Manchester, UK. Drawing on Suzanne Langer’s process philosophy and recent research in affect studies, the authors compose complex mappings of affective intensity as it circulates through stand-up comedic performances, using new empirical methods to combine ethnographic accounts with data from electro-dermal activity (EDA) sensors worn by students. Moving beyond reductive interpretations of laughter as a function of stimulus-response, the authors assemble the concept of ‘fielding hilarity’ to better account for the atmospheric circulation of affects through comedic learning processes and performances.

Collective analysis of performance and EDA data
For a workshop, we invited the theatre students to participate in a collective analysis of their performances augmented by the EDA sensor data. In between sessions, we had run several analytic algorithms on the data using iMotions biometric software to separate the EDA signal into two parts: the tonic signal and phasic signal.

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