Compositional structure of the genre stand-up comedy: a contrastive analysis between European Portuguese and American English

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The aim of this contribution is to analyze the global compositional structure of texts in Portuguese and American English stand‐up comedy in order to reveal the possible (dis)similarities between the two genres at the macro textual level. The research is situated within Text Linguistics (TL), and, more specifically, it is based on the Textual Analysis of Discourses (TAD) – a theoretical and methodological framework developed J. M. Adam (2008). Proposing TAD, Adam distinguishes various levels for textual analysis (texture, compositional structure, semantics, enunciation and speech acts). The main interest of the present research lies within the scope of the compositional structure, which deals with sequences and text plans. In TAD, sequences are defined as “textual schemas”, located between the sentence-­‐level and period-­‐level structuration of clauses and the macro-­‐textual organization of text plans. In the present theory, there are five prototypic sequences, occurring in various types of texts in mixed ways: narrative, descriptive, argumentative, explicative and dialogal. Text plans correspond to what the ancient rhetorics defined as dispositio, the art of writing and speaking that regulated how the arguments should be organized. Along with genres, text plans are “models”, available in the system of knowledge of social groups. They allow constructing (in textual production) and reconstructing (while reading and writing) the global textual organization, determined by the genre.

With TAD concepts of sequences and text plans in mind, our intention is to carry out a contrastive analysis of humorous texts taken from European Portuguese and American English stand-up performances, focusing on both sequences and text plans as the two main constituents of the compositional structure. In particular, upon completion of the analysis we aim to determine: a) if the sequential structure presents a series of identical sequences or a single type that appears to be dominant in the genre (and which one?) and how they are grouped in texts (by means of coordination, alteration or insertion?), and b) if a text plan in stand-up performances of the contrasted languages is conventional, i.e. socio-historically fixed by the (sub)genre or if it is occasional. The textual analysis is carried out on the basis of a 20,026 word (1h47min) oral corpus of Portuguese and a 20,973 word (1h47min) oral corpus of American English, totaling 40,999 words (or 3h52min) of recorded and transcribed data. We have grouped the texts into 24 samples (12 for each of the analyzed languages), which correspond to 24 different comedians and their individual complete performances. We hope that this research not only meets its objectives and provides a rigorous contrastive analysis of the macro organization of texts of the genre stand-up comedy, but also enlarges the application area of the TAD framework to humorous discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event5.ª Conferência Internacional em Gramática & Texto - Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 28 Jun 201730 Jun 2017


Conference5.ª Conferência Internacional em Gramática & Texto
Abbreviated titleGRATO 2017
Internet address


  • Text linguistics
  • Compositional structure
  • Text plan
  • Sequences
  • Stand-up comedy


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