“Give Me the Seth Rogen Laugh”: This Is the End and Parafictional Persona

Abstract: This paper applies the theory of “parafictional persona” to Judd Apatow’s This Is the End (2012), positioning its ensemble cast as a key example of an increasingly common occurrence: actors and performers playing themselves in fictional media. It surveys the history of personalization in comedy media to chart how the practice of performers appearing in character while using their own real name coincides with the rise of social media technology and the new media ecology. By analyzing This Is the End and its cast of comedian-performers, I demonstrate how the interplay of real and fictional in parafictional media texts cause such texts to appear more recognizably a part of the real world of the audience. I also demonstrate how the same parafictional interplay can be intentionally subverted and exploited by savvy performers for comedic or narrative effect.

Read this article in the Popular Culture Studies Journal (open-access)