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Palgrave Studies in Comedy

Comic Performance in Pakistan

The Bhānd

Authors: Pamment, Claire

  • Challenges still prevalent notions of absence of comedy in Muslim worlds 
  • Fills a gap of scholarship on contemporary Pakistani theatre and performance- offering an alternative insights to a geo-political hotspot, from the ground 
  • Gives nuance to otherwise monolithic notions of ‘folk forms’ by situating transformations within the bhānd tradition 
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Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56631-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56630-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book explores comic performance in Pakistan through the vibrant Indo-Muslim tradition of the Punjabi bhānd which now holds a marginal space in contemporary weddings. With irreverent repartee, genealogical prowess, a topsy-turvy play with hierarchies and shape shifting, the low-status bhānd jostles space in otherwise rigid class and caste hierarchies. Tracing these negotiations in both historical and contemporary sites, the author unfolds a dynamic performance mode that travels from the Sanskrit jester and Sufi wise fool, into Muslim royal courts and households, weddings, contemporary carnivalesque and erotic popular Punjabi theatre and satellite television news. Through original historical and ethnographic research, this book brings to life hitherto unexplored territories of Pakistani popular culture and Indo-Muslim performance histories.

About the authors

Claire Pamment is Assistant Professor of World Theatre in the Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance at the College of William and Mary, USA; former Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Worship and the Arts Fellow (2015-16), and has taught at various universities in Pakistan. Her articles on South Asian performance, censorship, burlesque, comedy and transgendering have appeared in TDR, Comedy Studies and Asian Theatre Journal. She is Performance Reviews Editor for Ecumenica.

Reviews

Comic Performance in Pakistan is a high-calibre original contribution to the fields of Pakistan studies and performance studies. Claire Pamment admirably situates the comic performers of the bhānd, or itinerant comedian, the ranga, or ‘straight man’, and the bighla, or clown, within a long and syncretic Hindu-Muslim history. The work is a model of detailed clarity and flair. It packs in a great many ideas within an admirably succinct structure.” (Claire Chambers, University of York, UK)

“This book shatters preconceptions about Muslim culture as deftly as do the comic performers it describes. Claire Pamment has written a landmark study of Pakistani comedians proving that the bhānd tradition of popular comedy deserves the appreciation and respect granted to Italian Commedia dell'Arte, English Music Hall, and American Vaudeville. Pamment's rich descriptions and penetrating analysis brings these brilliant clowns to life as virtuoso chroniclers of absurdity, past and present.” (Ron Jenkins, author of “Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy”)

“Claire Pamment’s book is a ground-breaking account of the Punjabi bhānd that makes an invaluable contribution to South Asian theatre and performance history and to an understanding of the politics of high and low culture. Analytically rigorous, the book’s detailed and careful research is a convincing testament to the importance of a popular theatre form that has been relegated to the cultural margins.” (Nandi Bhatia, author of “Acts of Authority”/ “Acts of Resistance: Theatre and Politics in Colonial and Postcolonial India”)

“Defying closure and familiar binaries, this book, like the bhānd tradition itself, celebrates the fluid play between Hinduism and Sufism, royal courts and the public bazaar, the centre and the margin, the traditional and the contemporary. Pamment’s erudite scholarship is paired with an abiding appreciation for the artfulness and values of the licensed fools it describes. This is a superb addition to our all too limited knowledge of this lively tradition and its legacy, and a wonderful antidote to the now frequently conveyed impression of Islamic cultures as inherently inimical to humour.”  (John Emigh, Professor Emeritus, Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, Brown University, USA and Founding Chairperson of the Association for Asian Performance)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

  • Introduction

    Pamment, Claire

    Pages 1-37

  • The Bhānd: In the Centres and Margins of the Historical Record

    Pamment, Claire

    Pages 41-68

  • Brahmin Jesters and Sufi Wise Fools

    Pamment, Claire

    Pages 69-103

  • Wedding Bhānds: ‘From the Donkey Cart to the Aeroplane’

    Pamment, Claire

    Pages 107-132

  • Bhānds in the Drawing Room: The Popular Punjabi Theatre

    Pamment, Claire

    Pages 133-171

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56631-7
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56630-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Comic Performance in Pakistan
Book Subtitle
The Bhānd
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in Comedy
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-56631-7
DOI
10.1057/978-1-137-56631-7
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-56630-0
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XX, 229
Number of Illustrations and Tables
18 b/w illustrations, 11 illustrations in colour
Topics