Killjoy and the Politics of Laughter. Russian Television Humour about Alyaksandr Lukashenka and its Reception in Belarusian Online Media

Alena Minchenia


Drawing upon the perspective of the cultural studies of emo- tions, this article examines the reception of political satire and the re-contextualization of humour. More precisely, it investi- gates the multiplicity of tensions that come into play in the production, erasure, rediscovery, and reception in Belarusian Internet media of politically oriented Russian television humour mocking the Belarusian president Alyaksandr Luka- shenka. The very phenomenon of comical representation aims at triggering a particular type of viewer response: laughter. But what if there is no laughter? To study this phenomenon, the concept of unlaughter, coined by Michael Billig, is drawn upon. Resonating with Sara Ahmed’s term killjoy, it helps to uncover inequalities reproduced in the circulation of humour. Who laughs and who is laughed at? The article looks at the construction of subjects and objects of laughter, as well as the emotions helping to shape the two. The extent to which the particular case discussed in this article might be illustrative of a broader function of political humour and unlaughter in creating and challenging power differentials is considered.

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