For post-linear narrative lab we were asked to bring some examples of meta-narrative. Some of my favorites:
Anything Andy Kaufman did. Most obviously, the foreign-guy-into-Elvis routine. There is self-conscious shift which causes the audience to re-evaluate what they’ve just seen. This actually works on two meta levels; first the foreign guy’s flailing attempts at ‘comedy’ are themselves a commentary on the tradition of stand-up; then after the dead on elvis routine meta-response is the comedian stepping out and reversing the audience’s expectation of the joke, the setup and the punchline.
Andy Kaufman also brought to television the now everpresent ‘faux-real’ — blurring the line between what the audience thinks is performance vs. fact. This is another type of meta-narrative, where the pretense of factuality allows us to comment on or develop a grander sense of the structure and messages of the medium (in Andy’s case, TV, and professional wrestling).
Even Shakespeare could get meta on us, if you’ll permit. The opening chorus of henry v (“O for a muse of fire…”) which not only brings the audience up to speed with the backstory, but does so as an apology for the insignificance of the players and the lacking nature of the theater to do justice to Henry V’s grandeur:
But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?