This research compares audience ranking of popular Internet jokes and the mechanisms of humor underlying their successfulness. It explores the audience's point of view, in order to shed light on a possible correlation between high rankings and specific mechanisms, as well as different preferences of specific languages. Jokes were chosen as the research object, since they are considered to be “prototypical members of humorous discourse” (Tsakona, 2007:35). The study is based on the pragmatic analysis of 540 occurrences in context, presenting examples in three languages – English, Spanish and Hebrew – extracted from nine popular sites (540 jokes in total). The findings indicate that Internet jokes have some common traits. However, comparison according to popularity ranking has revealed differences in the existence of a clash between human's physical and moral nature (Bergson, 1911), and the use of incongruity resolution mechanisms (Dynel, 2012): popular jokes relied more on the garden-path mechanism and less on the red-lights, while with regard to non-popular jokes, the opposite occurred. Differences were also revealed in the choice of the “butt” of the joke, and in the comparison of the three linguistic cultures: jokes in Hebrew targeted women and minorities to a greater extent; while in English jokes were more prone to target men and refer to sexual relations. In comparison, a preference of verbal humor, as opposed to superiority humor, was noticeable in Spanish, along with the extensive usage of the riddle narrative strategy and the crossroads mechanism.
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V.
- Joke mechanisms
- New media