Judith Roof | “Aaa, Aaa, Aaa” Repetition/Compulsion, and Queer Comedy in Little Britain


By playing in the middle, the British sketch comedy program, Little Britain (2003-2006), establishes a very gay form of comedy, not because either one of its creators or half of its subject matter is gay, its skits often involve transvestism, or it normativizes (or queers) most subject positions. Instead, Little Britain’s comic gayness exists in its repeated unfoldings of perverse irony in its field of compulsive repetitions, in its repetitions of compulsion as a comically reversible force, and in its playing out the narrative middle ground as a new combination of the exaggerated flaneurism of “camp,” the imitative impetus of drag, and the directness of targeted understatement. Obsessively repetitive, Little Britain repeats versions of its dozen skit characters and situations, leaving each perversely in the middle, without closure, and evolving in each episode with increasing irony. In the end, the series produces a sophisticated and ironic commentary on identity politics and the hypocrisies of liberalism, while rejuvenating comedy as a very queer form. What Lucas and Walliams produce is not simply a comment about gay characters or comedy in a gay sensibility, but a meditation on comedy itself.

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