Laughter and identity construction in political interviews
Previous conversation analytic work on the use and function of laughter in broadcast talk has mostly focused on its affiliative use as response to something the participants had constructed as humorous (Eriksson 2009, 2010; Ekström 2009, 2011; Baym 2013). Fewer studies have focused on its disaffiliative use as a response to something that has not been constructed as humorous (Clayman 1992; Romaniuk 2009, 2013a, 2013b). This paper contributes to this second line of research by investigating the use of laughter by a specific politician, namely Alexis Tsipras, in interview openings in three out of four one-on-one election campaign interviews he gave during the 2012 double Greek general elections campaigns. I will argue that Alexis Tsipras’ laughter is not only disaffiliative, undermining the journalists’ questions and projecting either an evasive answer or a counterchallenge, but that it also establishes a “cool but assertive” persona for the ears of the overhearing electorate.