Comedy and Cosmopolitanism

Cassis Kilian

Comedy clubs pop up like mushrooms in Berlin, a hub of global entanglements, national and international migration, religious and linguistic diversity that is highly affected by gentrification. I work with expats, the so-called new Berliners and conceive “otherness as a universal condition” imposed by “living in an overheated world” (Eriksen 2012). We consider cosmopolitanism as a skill to live in such “a world of strangers” (Appiah 2007, Appiah & Bhabha 2018) and explore humorous performances of belonging and alienation, of ethnic stereotypes and their sub-version, of global capitalism and its impact on everyday life. Berlin’s venues differ substantially in terms of the diversity of the audience, the language and comedic practices used on stage. Since the audience’s laughter is an essential part of live comedy performances, the anticipation of these contexts is a cue directly connected with the epistemic potential of the corresponding practises. I take part in workshops and classes by comedians that convey a great variety of comedic practices, such as Dharmander Singh and Caroline Clifford. For developing approaches to topics and phenomena that elude scholarly attention, I follow strategies of fictionalising or authentication and the use of documentary material when conceiving comedies that I perform in comedy clubs, such as Cosmic Comedy Club and Mad Monkey Room.

References cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. 2007. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: Norton.


Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Homi Bhabha. 2018. “Cosmopolitanism and Convergence.” New Literary History 49: 171-198.


Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. 2012. “Living in an overheated world: Otherness as a universal condition.” In Otherness: A Multilateral Perspective, edited by Susan Yi Sencindiver, Marie Lauritzen and Maria Beville, 239-60. Bern: Peter Lang.