The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 12, No 1 (2024)

From mocking pastors to roasting politicians: humour scandals, media dynamics and cultural change in the Netherlands, 1963-2021

Ivo Nieuwenhuis


In this article, I argue that humour scandals are less a product of the changing media landscape of the last thirty years than recent studies seem to suggest. Instead, I point to the structural continuities that can be observed in Dutch humour scandals over the past seventy years. Although stemming from various sociocultural and media contexts, these scandals roughly follow the same ‘script’. I also show that humour scandals are not just mediated events, but markers of cultural conflict as well. Behind every scandal, a substantial moral, cultural, and often also social divide can be recognised, and the study of humour scandals can be used to better understand such divides. I substantiate both of these claims through a qualitative, contextual analysis of two Dutch humour scandals: the mocking of Catholic pastors by comedian Wim Sonneveld in a TV performance from 1963, and the roast of far-right politician Thierry Baudet by comedian Martijn Koning in a popular late night talk show from Spring 2021.


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