About Me



E-mail: sbrown11 (at) illinois (dot) edu
Twitter: @stephbrown
Download CV PDF


I am a comedy, podcast, and television enthusiast who recently finished her doctorate in 
Media and Communication at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in the Institute of Communications Research. In addition to teaching courses in Media and Cinema Studies and in Gender and Women’s Studies, I work on SCMS and Cinema Journal‘s Aca-Media podcast, serve as the grad rep for the SCMS Comedy and Humor Studies Scholarly Interest Group, co-produce a local women’s open mic, perform stand-up comedy, write over at Medium and for various other outlets, and am in the process of co-launching an after school program called Girls Amplified, which was piloted in the fall of 2015.

I also recently won the Department of Media and Cinema Studies’ Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and the University of Illinois’ Graduate Student Leadership Award (check out a post about it here!)

My dissertation Open Mic? Gender and the Meritocratic Myth of Authenticity in the Cultural Production of Stand-up Comedy explores gender, labor, and gatekeeping in stand-up comedy as a media industry through several case studies including Lindy West’s debate with Jim Norton about misogyny in comedy on FX’s Totally Biased with W Kamau Bell, the critical reception of television shows about women stand-up comics like Oxygen’s Funny Girls, and interviews with comics with marginalized gender identities and expressions in Champaign and Chicago.  My second project explores television fandom on Twitter, including case studies on Comedy Central’s @midnight and Freeform’s Switched at Birth. 

I received my B.A. in English from Indiana University and my M.A. in Television, Radio, and Film from Syracuse University.  Before returning to school, I worked for the New York Television Festival and for VOX, a voice-over talent agency in Los Angeles.