ABSTRACT:

Stand-up comedy and comic monologues involve a paradox: the performers convey authenticity even while staging a performance. By juggling multiple selves during the act, the monologist appears authentic not only because of the autobiographical premise commonly invoked in the genre, but also because of the implication that a truer self will emerge from behind the public façade. This article tracks how three dissimilar monologists—David Sedaris, John Leguizamo, and Spalding Gray—comically contrast their performed and authentic identities. The comedic devices used, such as status-changing humor, mimicry, or ironic distancing, convey the impression that beneath the monologist's performance self lies a latent self that resonates affectively with the audience. All three monologists play with this dualistic self by constructing a public mask that breaks the moment an authentic self is revealed.

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