The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 8, No 3 (2020)

Humour and intertextuality in online spoof news

Ksenia M. Shilikhina


The paper discusses spoof news as a parody of the traditional genre of news and the role of intertextual references in the creation of the intended humorous or satirical effect. The study is based on the texts published by various online sources specialising in the production and spreading of spoof news. On the surface, the main aim of such non-bona fide pieces of news is not to misinform the readers, but rather to entertain them. However, along with entertainment, these texts also convey serious social implications. They implicitly undermine social norms and values and existing stereotypes about social roles and patterns of behaviour. The non-bona fide mode of such news can be signalled by a variety of intertextual references, e.g., fictional quotations, allusions to well-known texts, events or realia. The aim of the study is to demonstrate how these intertextual references create satirical effect and convey social criticism.



Allcott, H. & Gentzkow, M. (2017). ‘Social media and fake news in the 2016 Election’. Journal of Economic Perspectives 31 (2), pp. 211-236.

Archakis, A., Lampropoulou, S., Tsakona V. & Tsami, V. (2014). ‘Linguistic varieties in style: Humorous representations in Greek mass culture texts’. Discourse, Context and Media 3, pp. 46-55.

Archakis, A., Lampropoulou, S., Tsakona V. & Tsami, V. (2015). ‘Style and humour in Greek mass culture texts’, in Brzozowska, D. & Chłopicki, W. (eds.), Culture’s Software: Communication Styles, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 16-38.

Attardo, S. (1994). Linguistic Theories of Humour. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Bakhtin, M. (1981). The Dialogic Imagination (M. Holquist, ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Coleman, S., Anthony, S. & Morrison, D. (2009). Public Trust in the News: A Constructivist Study of the Social Life on the News. Oxford: The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford.

Dentith, S. (2000). Parody: The New Critical Idiom. London: Routledge.

Ermida, I. (2012). ‘News satire in the press: Linguistic construction of humour in spoof news articles’, in Chovanec, J. & Ermida, I. (eds.), Language and Humour in the Media, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 185-210.

Genette, G. (1997). Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Gray, J., Jones J. P., & Thompson, E. (2009). ‘The state of satire, the satire of state’, in Gray, J., Jones, J. P. & Thompson, E. (eds.), Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-network Era. New York: New York University Press, pp. 3-36.

Holt, J. (ed.) (2007). The Daily Show and Philosophy: Moments of Zen in the Art of Fake News. Oxford: Blackwell.

Issers, O. (2014). ‘Mediafeiki: mezhdu pravdoj i mistifikatsiej’ [Media fakes: Between the truth and mystification]. Kommunikativnye issledovanija [Communication Studies] 2, pp. 112-123.

Kuipers G. (2008). ‘The sociology of humour’, in Raskin, V. (ed.), The Primer of Humour Research, Berlin: Mouton de Gryuter, pp. 361-398.

Kotthoff, H. (2002). ‘Irony, quotation and other forms of staged intertextuality: Double or contrastive perspectivation in conversation’, in Graumann, C. F. & Kallmeyer, W. (eds.), Perspective and Perspectivation in Discourse, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 201-233.

Macmillan Dictionary Online (2009-2019). Retrieved from

Norrick, N. R. (1989). ‘Intertextuality in humour’. Humour: International Journal of Humour Research 2 (2), pp. 117-139.

Piégay-Gros, N. (2007). Vvedenie v teoriu intertekstualnosti [Introduction in the theory of intertextuality] (transl. by G. Kosikov, V. Lukasik & B. Narumov). Moscow: LKI Press.

Rubin, V. L., Conroy, N. J., Chen, Y. & Cornwell, S. (2016). ‘Fake news or truth? Using satirical cues to detect potentially misleading news’. Proceedings of NAACL-HLT 2016. San Diego, California, pp. 7-17.

Scollon, R. (2004). ‘Intertextuality across communities of practice’, in Moder, C. L. & Martinovic-Zic A. (eds.), Discourse across Languages and Cultures, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 149-176.

Simpson, P. (2003). On the Discourse of Satire: Towards a Stylistic Model of Satirical Humour. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Tandoc, E. C., Lim, Z. W. & Ling, R. (2018). ‘Defining “fake news”: A typology of scholarly definitions’. Digital Journalism 6 (2), pp. 137-153.

Verma, N., Fleischmann, K. R. & Koltai, K. S. (2017). ‘Human values and trust in scientific journals, the mainstream media and fake news’. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology 54 (1), pp. 426-435.