CFP: Humour at Work: Applications, Industries and Economies

Humour at Work: Applications, Industries and Economies

27th Conference of the Australasian Humour Studies Network


February 3-5, 2021

Massey University, Wellington Campus, Aotearoa New Zealand


Under the current conditions, it is very difficult for any of us to make confident predictions about the future, especially with regard to international travel and the status of gatherings. However, the organising committee for the 2021 conference of the Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN) has decided to proceed with the first stages of invitation on the cautious but optimistic basis that our meeting in Wellington, New Zealand in February 2021 will be possible.


At this stage, we are inviting submissions, in particular, from our colleagues based in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia on the optimistic assumption that Trans-Tasman travel will again be possible at some stage in the next 8 months. We also welcome submissions from further afield, but please note that entrance to New Zealand is currently closed to all non-residents, and there is no indication when the border is likely to open again.


Should the situation not improve by the end of 2020, we will then consider the possibility of taking the conference online in place of a physical meeting.


Keynote Presenters

(Please note that the physical attendance of keynote presenters will be contingent upon the travel policies of the NZ government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These are liable to change over time and cannot be predicted)

Dr Christelle Pare (Head of Research and Development, Just for Laughs/Juste pour Rire)

Dr Barbara Plester (Senior Lecturer of Management, University of Auckland);

More keynote presenters to be confirmed.


Although often imagined to be aligned with the leisurely or the everyday—something to be pursued for its own sake and own pleasures—in practice, humour is often big business. Whether understood in terms of the international comedy industry, the role of humour in corporate contexts, or its instrumentalist application in a range of industries and activities, humour can be alternately lucrative or costly. Moreover, comedy is not just profitable, but also often shaped by profits as new technologies, institutions and economies change the way we laugh. From the rise of the Netflix stand-up comedy special to the advent of a new breed of online celebrity-comedians, shifts in political economy have had consequences not just for where and when we consume comedy, but also for the types of humour that circulate and which of them can find an audience.

For the 27th meeting of the Australasian Humour Studies Network, we would like to encourage presenters to follow the money, and consider the different ways in which humour can be thought to have either sold out or cashed up. How has humour been implicated in a wide range of business practices and cultures? How has humour been put to work to earn its keep? What changes have arisen from the increasing professionalisation of comedy? How might humour be implicated or understood in light of our wider economic context?

**Please note that papers and presentations that do not directly address the theme of ‘Humour at Work’ are more than welcome. As the official conference of the AHSN, we welcome researchers working on any and all aspects of the study of humour.

We would like to invite proposals for 20 minute presentations. We welcome contributors who hail from a broad range of disciplines and fields of study: media and cultural studies, linguistics, fine arts, psychology, communication, education, literary studies, politics and political science, business studies, history, geography, sociology, theatre and performance, to name a few.

We especially welcome papers from research students of their work in progress, and as usual there will be a limited number of scholarships awarded as registration fee waivers for the best student proposals.

We would also like to extend a particular welcome to contributors from outside the university, especially those who are involved in the production and distribution of comedy.

The 2021 conference of the AHSN invites papers that explore the industrial and economic aspects of humour, including but not limited to:

  • The political economics of comedy production and distribution
  • Joking about business and work
  • Humour’s relationship to wider political economic contexts
  • Applications of humour in workplace settings
  • Comedy as art, business and vocation
  • The professionalization of comedy
  • The role of humour in workplace cultures
  • Comedy industries and technologies


Abstract deadline and details

 All proposals will be blind reviewed by members of the AHSN Review Panel. If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please submit a 250 word abstract with your name, e-mail address, and affiliation through the AHSN website submission portal at  Any other enquires regarding the event should also be addressed to

For further information about the conference, please consult the conference website (currently under construction!) at


Important dates

 Submission of abstracts opens: 15 May 2020

Close of submissions considered for Research Scholarships: 1 August 2020

Close of general submissions: 1 September 2020

Notifications of acceptance: 28 September 2020


Conference Organisers

 Massey University: Nicholas Holm, Bryce Galloway

Victoria University of Wellington: Meredith Marra, Stephen Skalicky


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