Disability and Comedy: Challenging Stereotypes Onscreen





Disability Studies, Humour Studies, Film Studies, comedy, sexuality, Stereotypes


Characters with disabilities or any type of impairment have been present in film productions since the early stages of cinema. However, they seldom become main characters in mainstream media and in particular in comedy films, as their body doesn’t belong to the acceptable norm. Comedy has been known as a tool to challenge the system and yet it seems scarcely used to represent disabilities, drama being the preferred choice for narratives revolving around disabled protagonists. This article focuses on two films in which comedy and drama are combined to tell stories centred, indeed, on people with a disability (Come as You Are and The Peanut Butter Falcon, both released in 2019). Using different humour strategies such as incongruity and superiority, their main characters successfully challenge society, its conventions and its stereotypes—with incongruity mechanisms the films deal with what is considered “normal” and with superiority mechanisms they challenge power relations. The analysis will show how comedy is a genre capable to give its disabled characters the possibility to express themselves for an audience that is also being represented on screen—whether it is disabled viewers who can identify with the protagonists or abled ones who see their behaviours challenged onscreen.


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How to Cite

Martínez-Guillén, S. (2023). Disability and Comedy: Challenging Stereotypes Onscreen. REDEN. Revista Española De Estudios Norteamericanos, 4(2), 55–71. https://doi.org/10.37536/reden.2023.4.2038