University of Leicester
2021AshbyDJPhD.pdf (35.36 MB)

OK Boomer: Geography, Comedy and the Emerging Political Expression of Generation Left in the UK

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posted on 2021-06-10, 09:45 authored by David J. Ashby
Comedy renders certain (geo)political discourses as common sense to particular audiences and geopolitical communities. Terms such as “Generation Rent” and “Generation Left” have emerged to understand the material/political conditions that produce geopolitical communities increasingly defined along the axis of age. Merging previous theories of comedy with assemblage thinking and critical geopolitics scholarship, this thesis identifies, follows and analyses this production - answering to how broadcast and digital forms of political comedy both assemble and are assembled by generational/geopolitical communities in broader human/media assemblages.

A discourse analysis of UK broadcast political comedy shows sets up the ‘liberal’ base line against which it is argued Generation Left is increasingly independent of and actively challenging. This discourse analysis uses the traditional theories of comedy – superiority theory, incongruity theory and relief theory – as heuristic categories to isolate and analyse moments of othering, juxtaposition and tension respectively. From this, it is argued that particular space-time juxtapositions in broadcast comedy territorialise UK geopolitical communities of ‘remainer’ and ‘leaver’ as central, distinct and coterminous coalitions.

“Moments of sincerity” are offered in this thesis as a way to explore emerging political expressions in political comedy. Moments of sincerity lay claim to and position a particular (perceived) audience as “naïve”, rendering a particular discourse as common sense. These moments create and reflect a generational battle over who represents the naïve audience.

Emerging political comedy appetites are explored through the dis/connections between digital and broadcast political comedy assemblages and the role and rise of the ‘prosumer’ (producers and consumers). As active ‘prosumers’ of political comedy media, Generation Left are more independently, assertively, and creatively challenge geopolitical discourses of the status quo, creating and reflecting new political expressions adequate to the material conditions and everyday geopolitical lives of Generation Left.



Gavin Brown; Benjamin Coles; Jen Dickinson

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Geography, Geology and the Environment

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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