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  1. 1. JOKES SEE ALSO “AMBIGUITY” AND “LANGUAGE PLAY” by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen
  2. 2. Joking Relationships <ul><li>Joking relationships occur “between two persons in which one is by custom permitted and in some instances required to tease or make fun of the other.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Kuipers 364) </li></ul><ul><li>(Radcliffe-Brown 195) </li></ul>
  3. 3. EXAGGERATION & SURPRISE <ul><li>Exaggeration and surprise are features that can be found in most jokes. </li></ul><ul><li>Bill Dana demonstrates that the same joke can be told with only the details and local color changing, and the rest of the joke remaining the same. </li></ul>
  4. 4. FIRST TELLING <ul><li>A large group is assembled in an auditorium when from the loudspeaker comes the message: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Will the person with New York license plate BL 74468459030623145098725, kindly remove it? Your license plate is blocking traffic. </li></ul>
  5. 5. SECOND TELLING <ul><li>Two cowboys are talking and the first one explains that the name of his ranch is the “Bar Nine Circle Z Rocking O Flying W Lazy R Happy Two Flying Nun Ranch.” </li></ul><ul><li>A second cowboy asks if he has many cattle, and the first cowboy responds, “Not many survive the branding.” </li></ul>
  6. 6. THIRD TELLING <ul><li>Two football players are talking and one of them begins describing a heroic run he made during the final game of the season. </li></ul><ul><li>Nobody on the opposing team could tackle him. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Finally, “they brought a cannon out onto the field, and they shot me with the cannon, </li></ul><ul><li>and then airplanes came down with machine guns. They still couldn’t stop me. And I finally made a touchdown. </li></ul><ul><li>The other player indignantly interjects that “Anybody who was in the stadium could prove that was a lie.” </li></ul><ul><li>The first player responded, “There were no survivors.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 118) </li></ul>
  8. 8. JOKE CYCLES <ul><li>Very often jokes occur in joke cycles. Consider the following joke cycles. </li></ul>
  9. 9. ACRONYM JOKES <ul><li>These jokes are often found on vanity license plates or bumper stickers: </li></ul><ul><li>10SNE1 (tennis anyone?) </li></ul><ul><li>XQUSME (excuse me) </li></ul><ul><li>4RGRAN (for our grandchild) </li></ul><ul><li>BS, MS, PhD (Bull Shit, More of the Same, Piled Higher and Deeper) </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 175) </li></ul>
  10. 10. LIGHTBULB JOKES <ul><li>How many New Yorkers? </li></ul><ul><li>3: One to do it and two to criticize. </li></ul><ul><li>How many grad students? </li></ul><ul><li>3: 2 plus a professor to take the credit </li></ul><ul><li>How many Jewish mothers? </li></ul><ul><li>None: I’ll just sit in the dark. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>How many Los Angeles Police? </li></ul><ul><li>6: one to do it and five to smash the old bulb to smithereens. </li></ul><ul><li>How many mice does it take to screw in a lightbulb? </li></ul><ul><li>2: but they have to be really small. </li></ul><ul><li>How many Dolly clones? </li></ul><ul><li>As many as you’d like. As many as you’d like. As many as you’d like. </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 176) </li></ul>
  12. 12. LIGHT BULB JOKE VARIATION: <ul><li>What’s the difference between a pregnant woman and a light bulb? </li></ul><ul><li>You can unscrew the light bulb. </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 176) </li></ul>
  13. 13. NEW DEFINITIONS <ul><li>Artery : The study of painting </li></ul><ul><li>Bacteria : The back door of a cafeteria </li></ul><ul><li>Barium : What doctors do when patients die. </li></ul><ul><li>Nilsen & Nilsen 177) </li></ul>
  14. 14. SNIGLETS <ul><li>Rich Hall invented the term “sniglet” for a word that should be in the dictionary, but isn’t. </li></ul><ul><li>Elbonics (el bon’ iks) n. The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Esso Asso (eso a’so): The person behind you in a right-hand turn lane who cuts through the Esso Station. </li></ul><ul><li>Pupkus (pup’kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it. </li></ul><ul><li>Phonesia (fo nee’ zhuh) n. The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer. </li></ul>
  16. 16. TOM SWIFTIES <ul><li>People who used to read the Tom Swift novels invented a new type of joke: </li></ul><ul><li>“ My name is Tom, he said Swiftly.” </li></ul><ul><li>This pattern is extended to: </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’d like my egg boiled,” she whispered softly.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>“ Get to the back of the boat!” he shouted sternly. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Would you like another pancake?” she asked flippantly. </li></ul><ul><li>“ She works in the mines,” he roared ironically. </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 176) </li></ul>
  18. 18. TOP TEN LIST <ul><li>In 1993 when David Letterman left NBC to move to a better time slot at CBS, he made a list of his “Top 10 Things I Have To Do Before I Leave NBC.” Here are some of the items on that list: </li></ul><ul><li>Drop off hairpiece at security desk. </li></ul><ul><li>Vacuum out Wendell (his announcer) and write down his mileage. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>Steal my weight in office supplies. </li></ul><ul><li>Let my plastic surgeon step out and take a bow—this has been his show as much as mine. </li></ul><ul><li>Get one more cheap laugh by saying the word Buttafuoco . </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 176) </li></ul>
  20. 20. VIRUS JOKES <ul><li>AT&T Virus: Every three minutes it tells you what great service you are getting. </li></ul><ul><li>MCI Virus: Every three minutes it reminds you that you’re paying too much for the AT&T virus. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Paul Revere Virus: This revolutionary virus does not horse around. It warns you of impending hard disk attack—once if by LAN, twice if by C:>. </li></ul><ul><li>New World Order Virus: Probably harmless, but it makes a lot of people really mad just thinking about it. </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 177) </li></ul>
  22. 22. !EPIPHANY <ul><li>What all jokes seem to have is an epiphany. So here is a joke that illustrates the nature of epiphany: </li></ul><ul><li>A man has been a customer in a particular restaurant for twenty years. He sits down to his regular dinner and immediately calls the waiter over to his table and demands that he “taste the soup.” </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>!! </li></ul><ul><li>The waiter is most apologetic and says, “I’m sorry sir. What’s wrong? Here, let me get you another bowl.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Taste the soup!” demands the irritated customer. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>!!! </li></ul><ul><li>Again the waiter apologizes and leans forward to whisk away the offending bowl. </li></ul><ul><li>“ No!” demands the customer, who by now is irate: “Taste the soup.” </li></ul><ul><li>The humbled waiter leans over to obey and asks in surprise, “Where’s the spoon?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ah ha!” cries the customer. </li></ul><ul><li>(Nilsen & Nilsen 292) </li></ul>
  25. 25. JOKE WEB SITES: <ul><li>BUSH ON GLOBAL WARMING (BILL FERRELL TAKEOFF): </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>BUSH ON GLOBAL WARMING (KID TAKEOFF): </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>HUMAN SLINKY (HALFTIME AT CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY): </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>KETCHUP: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>TENNIS-BALL PIANO PLAYER: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>References: </li></ul><ul><li>Asimov, Isaac. Asimov Laughs Again: More Than 700 Jokes, Limericks, and Anecdotes . New York, NY: Harper Books, 1993. </li></ul><ul><li>Asimov, Isaac. Isaac Asimov’s Treasure of Humor: A Lifetime Collection of Favorite Jokes, Anecdotes, and Limericks with Copious Notes on How to Tell Them and Why . New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. </li></ul><ul><li>Asimov, Isaac. “Jokester.” in Robot Dreams . London, England: Gollancz, 1956, 278-294. </li></ul><ul><li>Attardo, Salvatore, and Jean-Charles Chabanne. “Jokes as a Text Type.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 5.5 (1992):P 165-176. </li></ul><ul><li>Attardo, Salvatore, and Victor Raskin. “Script Theory Revis(it)ed: Joke Similarity and Joke Representation Model.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 4.3-4 (1991): 293-341. </li></ul><ul><li>Benton, Gregor. “The Origins of the Political Joke.” in Powell and Paton (1988): 33-55. </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>Berger, Arthur Asa. “Anatomy of the Joke.” Journal of Communication 26 (1976): 113-115. </li></ul><ul><li>Boskin, Joseph, ed. The Humor Prism in 20 th Century America . Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1997. </li></ul><ul><li>Bradney, Pamela. “The Joking Relationship in Industry.” Human Relations 9.2 (1957): 179-187. </li></ul><ul><li>Chiaro, Delia. The Language of Jokes: Analysing Verbal Play . New York, NY: Routledge, 1992. </li></ul><ul><li>Davies, Catherine Evans. “Joking as Boundary Negotiation among ‘Good Old Boys’: ‘White Trash’ as a Social Category at the Bottom of the Southern Working Class in Alabama.” HUMOR: Internaitonal Journal of Humor Research 23.2 (2010): 179-200. </li></ul><ul><li>Davies, Christie. “American Jokes about Lawyers.” HUMOR 21.4 (2008): 369-386. </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Davies, Christie. “Ethnic Jokes, Moral Values, and Social Boundaries.” British Journal of Sociology 33.3 (1982): 383-403. </li></ul><ul><li>Davies, Christie. “Humour and Protest: Jokes under Communism.” International Review of Social History 52 (2007): 291-305. </li></ul><ul><li>Davies, Christie. Jokes and their Relations to Society . New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter, 1998. </li></ul><ul><li>Derks, Peter, Steve Kalland, and Mike Etgen. “The Effect of Joke Type and Audience Response on the Reaction to a Joker: Replication and Extension.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 8.4 (1995): 327-338. </li></ul><ul><li>Douglas, Mary. “Jokes.” in Implicit Meanings: Essays in Anthropology . Ed. Mary Douglas, London, England: Routledge, 1975, 90-114. </li></ul><ul><li>Douglas, Mary. “The Social Control of Cognition: Some Factors in Joke Perception.” Man, New Series 3.3 (1968): 361-376. </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>Dundes, Alan. “Auschwitz Jokes.” Western Folklore 42.4 (1983): 249-260. </li></ul><ul><li>Dundes, Alan. Cracking Jokes: Studies of Sick Humor Cycles and Stereotypes . Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1987. </li></ul><ul><li>Feldman, Gilda, and Phil Feldman. Acronym Soup: A Stirring Guide to Our Newest Word Form . New York, NY: William Morrow, 1994. </li></ul><ul><li>Freud, Sigmund. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious . New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1905. </li></ul><ul><li>Galanter, Marc. “The Great American Lawyer Joke Explosion.” HUMOR 21.4 (2008): 387-414. </li></ul><ul><li>Galanter, Marc. Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture . Madison, WI: University of Wisconsiln Press, 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>Groch, A. “Joking and Appreciation of Humor in Nursery School Children.” Child Development 45.4 (1974): 1098-1102. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>Gundelach, Peter. “Joking Relationships and National Identity in Scandinavia.” Acta Sociologica 43.2 (2000): 113-122. </li></ul><ul><li>Hall, Jeffrey A., and Ken Sereno. “Offensive Jokes: How Do They Impact Long-Term Relationships?” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 23.3 (2010): 351-374. </li></ul><ul><li>Hall, Rich. Sniglets (Snig’lit)—Any Word That Doesn’t Appear in the Dictionary, but Should . New York, NY: Collier Books, 1984. </li></ul><ul><li>Hart, Marjolein, and Dennis Bos, eds. Humour and Social Protest . Special issue of International Review of Social History 52, Supplement S15 (2007). </li></ul><ul><li>Herzog, Thomas R., Anne C. Harris, Laura S. Knoposcott, and Katherine L. Fuller. “Joke Cruelty and Appreciation Reviseted.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 19.2 (2006): 139-156. </li></ul><ul><li>Kuipers, Giselinde. “The Difference between a Surinamese and a Turk: Ethnic Jokes and the Position of Ethnic Minorities in the Netherlands.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 12.2 (2000): 141-175. </li></ul><ul><li>Kuipers, Giselinde. “The Sociology of Humor.” in Raskin (2008): 361-398. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>Kuipers, Giselinde. “Where was King Kong when We Needed Him? Public Discourse, Digital Disaster Jokes, and the Functions of Laughter after 9/11.” Journal of American Culture 28.1 (2005): 70-84. </li></ul><ul><li>Lockyer, Sharon, and Michael Pickering. Beyond the Joke: The Limits of Humour . Basingstoke, England: Palgrave, 2005. </li></ul><ul><li>Martin, Rod A. The Psychology of Humor: An Integrative Approach . London, England: Elsevier, 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Morrow, P. D. “Those Sick Challenger Jokes.” Journal of Popular Culture 20.4 (1987): 175-184. </li></ul><ul><li>Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20 th Century American Humor . Westport, Ct: Greenwood, 2000. </li></ul><ul><li>Norrick, Neal R. Conversational Joking: Humor in Everyday Talk . Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993. </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Norrick, Neal R. “Laughter before the Punch Line During the Performance of Narrative Jokes in Conversation.” Text and Talk 30.1 (2010): 75-95. </li></ul><ul><li>Norrick, Neal R. “Non-verbal Humor and Joke Performance.” HUMOR 7.4 (2004): 401-409. </li></ul><ul><li>Norrick, Neal R. “On the Conversational Performance of Narrative Jokes: Towards an Account of Timing.” HUMOR . 14.3 (2001): 255-274. </li></ul><ul><li>Oring, Elliott. “Between Jokes and Tales: On the Nature of Punch Lines.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 2.4 (1989): 349-364. </li></ul><ul><li>Oring, Elliott. The Jokes of Sigmund Freud: A Study in Humor and Jewish Identity, 3 rd Edition . Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Oring, Elliott. “Jokes and the Discourse on Disaster: The Challenger Shuttle Explosion and Its Joke Cycle.” Journal of American Folklore 100 (1987): 276-286. </li></ul><ul><li>Oring, Elliott. Jokes and Their Relations . Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 1992. </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>Oring, Elliott. “Parsing the Joke: The General Theory of Verbal Humor and Appropriate Incongruity.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research forthcoming. </li></ul><ul><li>Oshima, Kimie. “Ethnic Jokes and Social Function in Hawai’i.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research . 13.1 (2000): 41-57. </li></ul><ul><li>Pfordresher, John. “An Approach to Analyzing Jokes.” The English Journal 70.6 (1981): 50-54. </li></ul><ul><li>Plester, Barbara, and Mark Orams. “Send in the Clowns: The Role of the Joker in Three New Zealand IT Companies.” HUMOR 21.3 (2008): 253-282. </li></ul><ul><li>Powell, Chris, and George Paton, eds. Humour in Society: Resistance and Control . Basingstoke, England: MacMillan, 1988. </li></ul><ul><li>Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. “On Joking Relationships.” Africa 13 (1940): 195-210. </li></ul><ul><li>Raskin, Victor, ed. The Primer of Humor Research . New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008. </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>Raskin, Victor. Semantic Mechanisms of Humor . Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1985. </li></ul><ul><li>Sherzer, Joel. “On Play, Joking, Humor and Tricking in Kuna: The Agouti Story.” Journal of Folklore Research 27.1 (1990): 85-114. </li></ul><ul><li>Shiffman, Limor, Stephen Coleman, and Stephen Ward. “Only Joking? Online Humour in the 2005 UK General Election.” Information, Communication and Society 10.4 (2007): 465-487. </li></ul><ul><li>Sykes, A. J. M. “Joking Relationships in an Industrial Setting.” American Anthropologist 68 (1966): 188-193. </li></ul><ul><li>Walle, Alf. “Getting Picked Up Without Being Put Down: Jokes and the Bar Rush.” Journal of the Folklore Institute 13 (1976): 201-217. </li></ul><ul><li>Zenner, Walter P. “Joking and Ethnic Stereotyping.” Anthropological Quarterly 43.2 (1970): 93-113. </li></ul>