8.2.2 Assessing Competence In The Details Of Talk

Though all participants would seem competent to contribute, this does not prevent speakers from ensuring that this is actually the case. The macrotopic, ‘sex in this country’, is introduced by BM in line 1 and others introduce and elaborate microtopics before BM in 21 introduces the microtopic of page three nudes. As this is a UK and not a US phenomenon, as BM makes clear in 23 (and as discussed in 7.1), he wants to make sure that all the panel, two of whom are not British, and all the studio audience, half of whom are American, know what the ‘page three’ reference means: ‘well you know what I’m saying’ (22). It is here noted that this is the first explicit reference in the talk to the nature of representations of women in the UK. This draws two affirmative responses from EM and JK, respectively – 24 ‘Right’ and 25 ‘Mmm-mm’. Nobody expresses ignorance of the reference and the discussion continues. (In CA terms this move of BM can be seen as a presequence used to clear the way for a further utterance.)

It might be thought at first glance that RB’s persistent questioning of JK from 70 onwards is a way of assessing her competence in the details of the talk, but his questions about Thatcher are not real nor exam questions but cross-examination questions designed to build his case concerning Thatcher’s ‘mean-ness’, with the various audiences acting as jury. Further, they are sequentially different to BM’s question in 22, a point which will be developed below (8.6).


8 Humour in Context: The Thatcher Joke>

8.2 The Discussants>

8.2.1 Different Competence In A Domain Of Discourse>

8.2.2 Assessing Competence In The Details Of Talk

8.2.3 Non-engrossed Recipients>

8.2.4 Heterogeneity Of The On-Stage Audience>

8.2.5 Audience Interpretation Of The Story>

8.2.6 Reconstituting The On-Stage Audience>