The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 6, No 2 (2018)

Extending ethnic humour theory: Genuine vs. functional ethnic jokе scripts

Aleksandar Takovski


Most ethnic humour that has been studied so far consists of jokes which use ethnically non-specific qualities such as stupidity or canniness in order to ridicule an ethnic group and thus to preserve and perpetuate ethnically based social hierarchies in western industrial societies. In light of this dominant logic in ethnic humour theory, the objective of this study is to problematize the relation of such non-ethnic qualities and the notion of ethnic identity, as well as their relation to a specific type of society, in an attempt to convincingly argue in favour of the need to differentiate between ‘ethnically-empty’ functional joke scripts and genuine ethnic joke scripts that are related to the ethnic identity of the target. In so doing, I extend ethnic humour theory by introducing and testing the notion of genuine ethnic joke scripts in order to motivate future research that will tackle other potential ethnic humour idiosyncrasies. Toward this end, I have collected and analysed joke material (N=369) coming from Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Albania, societies with histories and relations very different that those in the western industrial societies. Additionally, the study incorporates two questionnaires with members of the two largest ethnicities in the Republic of Macedonia, Macedonians and Albanians, to ascertain the relation between the genuine ethnic humour and ethnic identity.


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