Illness narratives are stories that focus on, or are inspired by, the sometimes life-altering experience of illness. Most narrative constructions of these illness experiences are built upon one of three broad narrative “skeletons.” One skeletal subform, the romantic/warrior narrative, is critiqued by comedian Norm Macdonald in a humorous anecdote that mocks the expectation that cancer patients must wage an epic and heroic battle against their pernicious cancer to have a chance to survive. Macdonald explicates that such a mentality produces heroes and villains, winners and losers, and places additional burden on cancer patients. In this analysis, I argue that Macdonald’s effective use of humor and fulfillment of the five functions of health-related narration enable his story to gain narrative rationality and serve as effective rhetorical tools in encouraging the audience to accept the narrator’s critique of the romantic/warrior subform.
Journal of Communication Inquiry – SAGE
Published: Jul 1, 2018
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