Codeswitching in the comedy of George Lopez

Megan Wells



This paper explores the intersectionality of language, culture and identity in the performance of a U.S.-born bilingual Spanish-English speaking comedian, George Lopez. Codeswitches in his comedy are examined through the speaker’s relationship to the audience using Bell’s (1984) theory of audience design. Two specific performances with two distinct audiences are compared using the following questions: How does a bilingual comedian, Lopez, use language mixing to underscore his Latino identity? How does he construct his audience through his choice of codes? How and when does he accommodate monolingual English speaking audiences? I conclude that Lopez intentionally matches his code choice to connect more deeply with his audience. In the first performance he codeswitches as a way to mark solidarity with his presumed bilingual/bicultural audience while in the second performance he consciously maintains his discourse in English to accommodate a perceived monolingual audience.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies