Interruption Elicits Laughter: Cooperative and Intrusive Interruptions in a Chinese Talk Show Host’s Conversation

Yingnian Tao

Abstract


This study is designed to examine how the secondary/subordinate host under institutional obligations and restrictions employs the interruption mechanism to supplement the dominant host’s narrative and elicit an audience’s laughter. Ten episodes totaling 239 minutes of the popular Chinese TV talk show Jinxing Show were selected, focusing on the “monologue” narrative section in which the interruption mechanism is given its best play. The data encompass 288 interruption turns and 80 non-interruption turns. Conversation Analysis is used to analyse the type of interruptions and the relation between interruptions and laughter. It is found that interruptions adopted by the assistant host can be analysed according to two aspects: rapport and intrusion, with the former consisting of backchannel and progression, while the latter is characterized by tease, disagreement, and pick-up. Backchannel and pick-up scarcely produce laughter from the audience, while progression and disagreement result in around half of the interruption that embodies laughter, and tease causes the strongest reactions. It is also argued that the interruption-laughter correlation is determined by the role identification and institutional obligations, which are primarily aimed at complementing the storytelling of the dominant host and enliven the atmosphere in the studio. Through administering quantitative and qualitative analysis, this study is expected to develop studies of institutional interruption by displaying how the secondary characters in institutional contexts (talk shows) full of dominance and restrictions exert resistance (interruption), while also accomplishing institutional responsibilities. Helping the audience and viewers appreciate the discursive skills of the talk show hosts is also likely.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22158/selt.v6n4p287

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