I approach the study of humor from the dual perspective of educator and former practitioner. My work on marginal performance focuses on the way female comics rhetorically construct and perform their marginality onstage, educating audiences with their distinctive brand of cultural critique. A unique discourse, as an antirhetoric,2 humor simultaneously advances agendas and disavows its own impact; consequently, the comic frame liberates even as it labels incisive social criticism “just a joke.” In the hands of skilled comics – especially those whose identities relegate them to society’s margins – humor is an epistemological lens, one that affords a critical perspective otherwise unavailable to mainstream audiences. The three chapters in this part explore marginal comic identities, deepening our understanding of the complex and nuanced cultural critique these comics provide. In order to elaborate on the way comedic performance of marginality simultaneously educates and entertains, this chapter offers a response to the three previous chapters by first considering the authors’ contributions, next, discussing
the shape-shifting rhetoric of a fourth comic, Wanda Sykes, and finally, suggesting the importance of communal laughter.