Publication details [#67650]

Stokoe, Elizabeth. 2008. Dispreferred actions and other interactional breaches as devices for occasioning audience laughter in television “sitcoms”. Social Semiotics 18 (3) : 289–307.
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This paper uses conversation analysis to examine a hitherto unexplored aspect of the interactional production of humour. Taking sequences of talk from the American television sitcom Friends, it analyses the way breaches of the “generic orders of conversational organization”, including preference organization and turn-taking, function as devices for occasioning audience laughter. The analysis further reveals that it is not just breaches themselves that make laughter relevant, but the juxtaposition of normatively “appropriate” and “inappropriate” methods for doing dispreferred turns within the same course of action. Although the data are fictional, they are constructed by people who apply mundane knowledge about talk's organization and rely on their audience to do the same in response. This modern, mediated form of “breaching experiment” provides a vehicle for understanding the activities through which everyday social life is practically accomplished.