The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 7, No 2 (2019)

The function of face gestures and head movements in spontaneous humorous communication

Marta Buján


This paper assesses the results of a multimodal analysis of humorous instances found in a collection of 14 interviews from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The interviews have been imported and annotated in ELAN for head movements and face expressions. Only the interviewees’ remarks are studied in order to ensure the analysis of spontaneous speech, avoiding mostly pre-scripted host’s comments and questions. The results demonstrate that there are no gestures consistently and recurrently paired with humour. Therefore, none of the multimodal cues found in the sample can be considered markers of humour. Furthermore, the functions of gestures identified are consistent with the uses reported in previous multimodal studies of humorous and non-humorous communication found in the literature.


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