The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 2, No 3 (2014)

Humour as resistance: Disaster humour in post-9/11 United States

Aju Basil James


This paper studies the evolution of political humour in media in the United States after 9/11. Previous research has identified patterns in the evolution of jokes on the Internet but a study of patterns of humour in mainstream media remain scarce. This paper looks at late night television shows and cartoon strips in post-9/11 United States, and tries to plot a pattern in their evolution. Television programs such as The Daily Show or cartoon strips such as The Boondocks and Get Your War On have become major sources of political news, especially for the younger section of the population. These media constitute and react to the business of political news in the United States. This paper attempts to explore what political consciousness is constructed through humour in these media. Any pattern that may emerge out of this study is also reflective of humour’s engagement with politics, especially in a time in which irony was declared to be dead. A comparison of humour on these different fora throws some light on how the United States reacted to 9/11 through humour as well as what material, political or psychological forces drive humour on different kinds of media.


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