This special issue, entitled ‘The Trickster Activist in Global Humour and Comedy’, investigates the relevance of the concept of the trickster for explaining activist expressions that emanate from comedians, or that appear in comedy and humour more generally. Comedy has traditionally been viewed as an aesthetic or entertainment medium. It has often been charged with encouraging stereotype and the affirmation of mainstream audience beliefs. Despite this, we argue, there have been moments in recent history where comedians have given their performances an increased level of social and political consciousness that resonates with the public at large, or with sections of the public. Comedians, we argue, are able to reach this level of social commentary due to their potential to become tricksters. Paradoxically, the mythical trickster is a liminal entity, one that is adept at destruction as well as creation, or at conservativism as well radicalism. The articles in this issue explore the complexity of the trickster concept, showing some of the polysemy involved in the social activism enabled by comedy and humour.
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