Although Totie Fields enjoyed considerable visibility on American television in the 1960s and 1970s, her contributions to women's television comedy have been obscured both by her untimely death in 1978 and by her self-deprecating style of humor. This article reconsiders Fields's comedic persona, which forced audiences to confront the realities of voices and bodies that did not conform to classical ideals, in the context of more recent theoretical work on the economy of charged humor (Rebecca Krefting) and the place of women's comedy within contemporary culture (Linda Mizejewski, Kathleen Rowe Karlyn). Ultimately it argues that, rather than constituting a “ghost of women's comedy past,” Fields's persona in feminized TV spaces such as the daytime talk show has more in common with the work of contemporary female comedians than has been previously acknowledged.
Channeling Totie Fields: Female Stand-up Comedy on 1960s–1970s Television
Heather Osborne-Thompson is an associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at California State University, Fullerton, where she teaches television studies courses. Her research focuses on the intersections between gender and television genres.
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Heather Osborne-Thompson; Channeling Totie Fields: Female Stand-up Comedy on 1960s–1970s Television. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2017; 3 (2): 57–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2017.3.2.57
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