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A shift in the receiver

Consider the following teasing instance from Spin City, in which Mike and Ashley are confronted with annoying and boring neighbors (Yale and his wife Marie), who find joy in sharing their vacation videos with Mike and Ashley. At the beginning of the teasing instance Yale is on the verge of ‘popping in’ a new video, when Mike aptly reacts by comparing the degree of boredom to the stopping of time.

  • (3) SPC/001/005/0203
  • 01 Marie you ^know we have a whole ^BAG of STAPES,
  • 02 Ashley I’m just going to the bathroom real ^quick,
  • 03 you know just splash some WATER in my fa{ha}ce;
  • 04 Yale so we’ll just POP one in then huh,
  • 05 Mike o yeah y you go ahead yale let’s euh-

06 (-) <

let’s see if we can actually make time STOP;>

The interesting aspect about Mike’s teasing instance is that it is not meant to be heard by Yale, but instead to be directed at Mike himself and, most of all, to the audience, which of course is omnipresent as well, albeit on another level of narrative organization. With regard to the participant roles involved in teasing (see section 2.2, Kotthoff 1998, Gunthner 2000), this sequence demonstrates that at least in sitcoms, the target of a teasing instance need not be addressed directly by the teaser. What is striking in this case, particularly, is the noncoincidence of the communicative role of receiver (addressee) and the participant role of target of the teasing sequence. Indeed, Mike is both the sender and - together with the audience - the receiver of the communicative message, but obviously not the target of the teasing instance.

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