Based on data from an empirical study of TV comedy audiences in Britain and Norway, this article examines the ways in which focus group participants constructed gendered distinctions in relation to comedy. Analysing talk about two sketch shows dominated by female performers, it argues that both male and female participants represented such ‘women’s comedy’ as having limited appeal for male viewers. The article explores the assumptions underlying this perspective, and highlights a perceived conflict between femininity and comedic performance. Focusing in on the minority of participants who explicitly devalued female comedy performers, it examines how these viewers employed discursive strategies to promote this view while negotiating the focus group setting. The article draws on feminist work on humour and comedy, as well as studies of taste and television audiences.

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Vol 13, Issue 2, 2010