The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 12, No 1 (2024)

Humour scandals in the Finnish political public sphere in 1990–2020

Juha Herkman,Joonas Koivukoski


Humour is a part of contemporary mediated political struggles. At times, humour itself becomes politicised, turning into public controversies or humour scandals. This study explores how humour scandals have become intertwined with the Finnish political public sphere during the last three decades. Quantitative mapping, based on journalistic articles retrieved from two nationwide media, reveals that between 1990 and 2020, 26 national humour scandals in Finland were reported in the national public sphere for at least five days. The number of scandals increased exponentially, from just two such scandals in the 1990s to 15 in the 2010s. Our qualitative analysis of three humour scandals from different decades demonstrates how humour controversies relate to the changes in political and media environments and moral order. While in the 1990s and early 2000s humour scandals often dealt with clashes between popular TV satires and leading politicians, from the 2010s onwards the topics of humour scandals diversified, including issues related to political campaigning, artistic performances, and racism.


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